The Allen Report: Rocky Mountain Raceway Maverik Clash of the Titans 2017

(Coverage By Christopher Allen, Photos By Jim Allen)

Weekend Recap

This time on “The Allen Report”, we hit the road back to Rocky Mountain Raceways in West Valley City, Utah, for the ninth consecutive year. Once again, we arrive to a stacked lineup of twelve well known monster trucks ready to do battle on the oval track’s figure-8 course, a track that has been equally tough on rising stars and experienced veterans alike.

Again this year all four members of 2Xtreme Racing came to take on each other, the competition and the track. Not surprisingly, Jimmy Creten took the controls of his trusty Bounty Hunter, complete with the original rendition of his popular and patriotic American Sniper Chris Kyle body. Dawn Creten was again at the helm of her trusty Scarlet Bandit. Mikeal Christensen came along to drive the prestigious Iron Outlaw truck. The fourth member of the equation, Knucklehead, had a different driver each of the two days, Austin Minton on Saturday and Christian Norman on Sunday.

Team Bigfoot returned to the Raceway after a year off with Larry Swim behind the wheel of Summit Bigfoot #21. But not far behind was the mysterious masked man Vinny Venom, recently crowned the 2017 Toughest Monster Truck Tour series champion, piloting Snake Bite. This version of the truck, hugely popular with the kids at the pre-show pit party, was a mixture of classic and current as the iconic “retro red” paint style remained from its 25th Anniversary tour one year ago, but the bedsides clearly showcased the sport’s recent trend of off road race truck bodies.

Back again was one of the father/daughter teams on the circuit as Darren Migues returned in his Nitro Menace truck with daughter Kaylyn in her usual Jailbird. The twins from Gig Harbor, Washington, were also back with Travis in his orange Trouble Maker and Tyler ready to put his Saturday championship from last year on the line in the sleek looking black Double Trouble. Making the trip up from Lake Havasu, AZ was past World Finals field reporter Mark Schroeder in driving Devastator. Finally, ready to defend his home state turf was Ron “the Dunk” Duncombe continuing his tenth year of driving the Maverik Monster Trakker. When a huge crowd came through the gates of the Raceway and into the pre-show pit party, it appeared that the stars had aligned for an intense, go-or-blow monster truck battle royale.

Qualifying set the pace for the rest of Saturday evening. The first three trucks in line went progressively faster than the monster that went before them until Larry Swim and Bigfoot threw down the challenge to his rivals with a time of 30.71 seconds. And Bigfoot’s old rival showed no fear when racing the clock, as Snake Bite bested Bigfoot by just a few tenths of a second. When qualifications were over, Snake Bite and Bigfoot has qualified first and second, sending them to opposite ends of the bracket.

But Vinny Venom didn’t slow down there. He had no trouble at all in the opening round and caught the Iron Outlaw in the first quarter final while Bigfoot beat Jailbird in the first round and defeated the former World Champion Bounty Hunter in the quarter finals. It wasn’t game over for the Tonganoxie, Kansas, team owner though, as Jimmy Creten had gone fast enough to return as the fastest loser. But from there, Creten’s racing luck ran out for the night as he just couldn’t catch Snake Bite in an incredibly close race. In the other semi, Bigfoot escaped the dark horse Devastator to set up another classic Bigfoot/Snake Bite championship round. But it wasn’t going to be easy as the final race was set for two laps, per tradition of the Raceway.

The final race was one to remember. Both trucks were dead even out of the gate, with Vinny Venom drifting around the turns but Larry Swim never let “the Snake” get too far ahead. In the second to last turn of the race, the masked Snake Bite driver finally pushed it too hard at the exit of the turn, the truck’s back end coming so far around the driver had to lay off the throttle. Larry’s took full advantage, slipping past his old rival in the final turn of the race and never looking back to take the Racing Championship to thunderous response from the spectators.

One year ago, RMR officials introduced the Donut Contest (billed as a “Twister” contest at the time), and its huge popularity with the crowd encourage officials to bring it back for 2017. Sadly, Bigfoot had encountered engine trouble so there would be no double win on Saturday. Additionally, Snake Bite wouldn’t get a chance to as transmission trouble kept him sidelined, too. Trouble Maker was the second truck out and went straight to an incredible height with a score of 9.6 with perfection being 10.

Scarlet Bandit stepped up to challenge the good old boys but missed the lead by a fraction of a point. But there were still several more opportunities for 2Xtreme Racing to take the Donut win. Iron Outlaw and Knucklehead both gave admirable efforts, but the team’s big boss was locked and loaded and Bounty Hunter’s lightning fast rotations, smoke rising from the tires and long spinning duration had the crowd roaring and the judges most impressed with a score of 9.85, taking the Donut Contest win.

As the second and final day of monster competition went on, it wasn’t long before the Racing comp got turned on its ear. Fastest qualifier Bigfoot easily won his first race against rising star Kaylyn Migues and Jailbird, but more mechanical gremlins kicked in and sadly kept him out for the remainder of the night. Despite being a first-timer on this track, Christian Norman quickly proved the doubters and skeptics wrong by marching straight to the finals. Scarlet Bandit showed consistency round after round, the driver’s superb efforts paying off when Dawn Creten found herself across the starting line from Knucklehead, the females in the crowd were firmly in Dawn Creten’s corner. And it must have worked because Dawn Creten took the lead early in the first of the two laps and never looked back, claiming the Racing Championship.

With a triple car stack, a large distance jump and a wheelie bump to play with and two long minutes on the clock, freestyle was certain to be a seriously competitive affair. Motivated by his early racing loss, Jimmy Creten and Bounty Hunter got huge air, put down dizzying donuts, executed several vertical wheelies and several cross threads to shoot into the lead with a score of 36.5. Truck after truck came after him, only to fall short. Only his own wife and the Racing Champion, the last driver in the order, came close at a score of 33.5, but Creten again won the freestyle competition to close the Maverik Clash of the Titans for another year.

We at “The Allen Report” are going to take some time off for now. But when we return, we will do so from Watsonville, California, the hometown of our friends at Living the Dream Racing, home of the popular Time Flys and Wild Flower monster trucks. With that, we send a huge and sincere “Thank you” to Mike Eames, Dan Breach, Ron Craft and all of the Rocky Mountain Raceways staff for giving us such great hospitality and support, thank you for reading, enjoy the photos and cheer on!

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The Allen Report: San Diego County Fair Monster Trucks – Del Mar, CA 2017

(Coverage By Christopher Allen, Photos By Jim Allen)

Weekend Recap

This time on “The Allen Report”, we head to the annual San Diego County Fair in the picturesque town of Del Mar, CA. Our friends at WGAS Motorsports have been entertaining fans at the annual fair for 22 straight years with a vast variety of motorsports entertainment, from tuff truck racing, to UTV racing, to freestyle motocross, and much more. But on the closing days of the fair, the shows held at the Del Mar Arena were headlined by six dirt slinging, high flying, bumper dragging monster trucks in freestyle action.

From just up the road in Menifee, CA were the father and son team of Rick and Eric Swanson. Twenty year old Eric continued to run his 1968 Ford F-100 body on Obsessed while Rick carried on with his Top Notch Tee’s sponsored yellow body. For the first time ever, Jim Creten had all four of his trucks in the house. 2Xtreme drivers Mikeal Christensen, Christian Norman, Austin Minton and Sinjan Gergick all took turns driving Knucklehead and Iron Outlaw. Once more, Dawn Creten took the helm of her usual Scarlet Bandit and Jim Creten lead the charge in his traditional Bounty Hunter, complete with the updated version of his American Sniper Chris Kyle Foundation body.

As with years past, the afternoon shows were exhibition only while the evening shows would utilize the sport’s traditional freestyle scoring system to crown an Overall Day Champion. A tabletop jump, two wheelie bumps, a small roller with a kicker and the customary Del Mar huge hill were all in play. This meant that winning the Overall Day Championship would not come easy for any of the participants.

The first day of monster truck action got things off to a roaring start. Rick Swanson made several admirable attempts at slap wheelies while Mikeal Christensen made some massive leaps off the tabletop. Eric Swanson turned in a high speed, high energy run from start to finish with huge air and Dawn Creten combined consistent huge air and dirt churning cyclones to stay in the hunt for the Overall Day Championship.

But, the crowd favorite and former World Finals Champion was waiting in the wings. Jim Creten dug his truck’s wheelie bar into the dirt, shot for the sky multiple times and continued long after his two minute time expired. In the evening show with scores and a trophy on the line, the 2Xtreme Racing team owner and founder had just enough points altogether to take the Overall Day Championship on the first day of monster action.

As the next few days marched by, the action inside the arena only got progressively hotter. The second day of action saw each driver step up their game and great performances all around, but Jim Creten, even with the strong performances by all of those who went before him, was able to repeat as the Overall Day Champion.

The third day of action saw a special twist to the show format. Eric and Rick Swanson began the spectacular trend of team trucks performing freestyles at the same time. Their respective runs were topped off by Eric putting his truck’s tires on top of those of his father’s vehicle. In the evening show with judges watching, both trucks were scored together as a team and did very well. But Jim and Dawn Creten, ever the competitors, accepted the challenge. When they took to the track, the husband and wife team got frequent huge air and ended their runs with simultaneous, lightning fast cyclones. When the couple’s winning score was handed down by the judges, the capacity crowd roared with approval.

On the fourth and final day of the 102nd annual San Diego County Fair on Independence Day, WGAS officials had a surprise ready for the fans who showed up to the arena for the final time this year. From the opening freestyle onward, the action inside the arena only got more and more exciting. Each truck was almost done with their freestyle time when the next truck in line came roaring into the arena. This process continued on until the father and son Swanson were the only trucks still on the track. As one last thanks to the fans for coming, all the monsters did one noisy parade lap around the perimeter of the arena, bringing the curtain down on another successful year of WGAS monster truck action at the San Diego County Fair.

While the monsters were waiting their turn to take to the track, the crowds were entertained by several different kinds of scaled down race cars with young gals and guys at the wheel. Mini dwarf cars and junior outlaw sprint races showcased future race drivers in the kids behind the wheels. With many battles for position and several races ending in photo finishes, it was clear that these kids have just as big a will to win as the adult racers.

With Del Mar behind us for the year, we don’t get much time to rest as only two weeks later we take a familiar trip at a new time of year. We have followed monsters to the Stanislaus County Fairgrounds in Turlock, CA in both the spring and fall, but this is our first time seeing them during the fair itself in late July. Coverage from there will be coming soon. That said, thank you for reading, a huge, heartfelt thanks to John and Charlene Borba, Chelsea Kessler, Greg and Carol Atherton and all of the WGAS Motorsports family for their warm hospitality, enjoy the photos and cheer on!

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The Allen Report: Monsters & Mud – Tuscon, AZ 2017

(Coverage By Christopher Allen, Photos By Jim Allen)

Weekend Recap

This time on “The Allen Report”, we travel to the Tucson Speedway asphalt oval track. It’s a NASCAR sanctioned home track that sees all kinds of auto racing weekend after weekend. But, on the last weekend of April, the Speedway was taken over by four massive monster trucks ready to duke it out in Wheelie Contest, Donut Contest and all out freestyle. In front of his hometown folk were Rod Wood and McGruff. Former Monster Jam on SPEED color analyst Mark Schroeder brought his wild looking Devastator to the Tucson track. Wrapping up the field and representing 2Xtreme Racing were Russell Steeley in the Iron Outlaw and Austin Minton in Knucklehead, the official monster truck of rock band Five Finger Death Punch.

In the wheelie contest, the slick paved third mile oval made wheelies tricky. Iron Outlaw made admirable efforts, spinning the tires trying to bring the front axle in the air. But Mark Schroeder did an excellent job of pointing his front tires towards the night sky. He easily won over the crowd and as the show was judged by the audience’s applause, took the Wheelie Contest win.

Going into the donut competition, McGruff had sadly broken the locker in the front axle and his performance status for the rest of the night was in danger. Devastator proved that he can do more than just ride a wheelie by turning in fast rotation to stay in the hunt. Russell Steeley proved that he still had what it takes by turning in super fast cyclones to stay alive. But newcomer Austin Minton had the crowd roaring by getting Knucklehead progressively faster and faster in his spin cycles, taking the win and ending Devastator’s chances at an evening’s clean sweep.

The freestyle track consisted of four crush cars, a construction barrier for wheelies and two jumps, one at the turn four end, the other and the turn one end. In the main event of the night, Iron Outlaw got things kicked off very well by hitting the van stack jump just past the start finish line, clearing the cars, inadvertently turning slightly mid wheelie and hit the van stack the wrong way to much applause from the spectators. McGruff was fixed just in time for the freestyle competition and put down a great run, causing a shower of sparks as he dragged his bumper across the front straightaway during one of his slap wheelies. Knucklehead was next on the track and gave the fans jumps, donuts and high speed energy. The final freestyle was Devastator and when Mark Schroeder was through there was no doubt who was the freestyle winner as the crowd cheered long and loud for his impressive performance. However, as far as the drivers were concerned, the fans were the winners on this clear and col night in Tucson.

While the monsters were resting or getting maintenance in the pits, the fans were treated to mud bogging in the infield and several kinds of mainstream car racing on the oval. Most of the races, both heats and features, were fast and entertaining with multiple attempts to take the lead and not many cautions.

Well, next on the agenda for us at “The Allen Report” is a trek to the Stanislaus County Fairgrounds in Turlock, CA, where our friends at WGAS Motorsports have a traditionally great show waiting for us with ATV racing, tuff trucks, Fitz Army freestyle motocross and, of course, monster trucks. On that note, thanks for reading, a sincere thank you to Dave the Track Guy and Tucson Speedway for their great hospitality, enjoy the photos and cheer on!

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The Allen Report: Washington State Spring Fair Monster Trucks – Puyallup, WA 2017

(Coverage By Christopher Allen, Photos By Jim Allen)

Weekend Recap

This time on “The Allen Report”, we travel to the Washington State Spring Fair in Puyallup. It’s a fair that sees all kinds of entertainment from thrill rides to concerts. Adding to the fair’s opening evening entertainment on Friday, WGAS Motorsports brought ten of the best monster trucks to go to war in qualifying, Chicago style racing and the car munching, sky touching insanity of freestyle. This show is a rarity in the sport of monster truck competition as the performance arena had no dirt, the show taking place on the asphalt surface.

Making the trip from Bakersfield, CA, was International Monster Truck Hall of Fame driver Terry Woodcock and his beautiful 35th Anniversary Cyclops. Hometown hero from just up the road in Stanwood, WA, was Dave Smith and the sleek black Maniac. Coming north from Vacaville, CA, was the “Flying Spaniard” Tony Canado himself driving the red Play ‘n For Keeps while friend and Turlock, CA, resident Jeff Souza took the wheel of the police themed Enforcer. Hot off his excellent performance at Monster Jam’s Double-Down Showdown was Eric Swanson and his retro Ford pickup bodied Obsessed. Right behind him was teammate and father Rick Swanson and his Top Notch Tee’s sponsored Obsession.

Completing the field were all four members of the 2Xtreme Racing team. Piloting Knucklehead, the official monster truck of metal band Five Finger Death Punch, was a new driver for 2Xtreme racing Austin Minton. Behind the wheel of Iron Outlaw was Christian Norman, a young driver who has driven this truck three times previously. Per always, former Army medic Dawn Creten took control of Scarlet Bandit. Finally, team leader and founder Jim Creten was at the helm of the Chris Kyle Bounty Hunter. Jim had driven almost three thousand miles from Charlotte, North Carolina to be in Puyallup for this show.

In qualifying, it didn’t take long for the action to unfold as Enforcer nicked the turning tire on his first run and sent him upside down. Jeff was okay and the damage to Enforcer was quite minimal. The past two times Rick Swanson had been here, he won and it appeared that a third win would not be far ahead as he set the new time to beat at 15.04 seconds. But the twenty-one year veteran’s happiness was short lived as former World Champion Jim Creten put together a storming run of 12.19 seconds. Truck after truck went after Jim Creten’s time, but the former Mr. Kansas bodybuilding champion was able to hold off the competition to take the number one spot headed into eliminations.

At the drivers meeting earlier in the day, WGAS officials decided that in spite of ten trucks participating, only those who qualified eighth or faster would race in the bracket. In the opening quarter final heat, Terry Woodcock tried his hardest against the fastest qualifier, but Bounty Hunter easily took the win to advance one step closer to the racing championship. Obsession stayed in the hunt to keep his win streak alive with a win over home state truck Maniac. In the semi-finals, Dawn Creten’s hopes of a husband and wife final were dashed when in the closest finish of the evening she came up only a few inches short to Obsession in the photo finish. Bounty Hunter disposed of team truck Iron Outlaw to meet the two time winner in the finals. The Menifee, CA, driver gave everything he had, but Jim Creten was just too fast, taking the Racing Championship.

With many crush cars in the center of the arena floor and all sorts of room for wheelies and donuts, freestyle was sure to be a heated affair. Scarlet Bandit set the bar for all followers with decent sky wheelies and smoke-causing cyclones. Her efforts didn’t go unnoticed by the judges either, her run being rewarded with a score of 70 out of a possible 100. Terry Woodcock gave a nice effort with cross threads and a nice sky wheelie to much positive response from the big crowd on hand. But Scarlet Bandit’s lead would remain intact until the second half of the field took to the track. Rear steer problems couldn’t stop Enforcer from a high energy run full of cross threads, lightning speed and tire smoking donuts taking the lead with a score of 80. The second to last truck was Enforcer’s teammate. Play ‘n For Keeps had great sky wheelies, big air and went into the spin cycle to put the freestyle championship within his reach with a score of 95. But Jim Creten was a man on a mission, and he drove accordingly. Hi high energy run included bumper dragging slap wheelies, high flying air and smashing flat the crush cars to garner a score of 98 and the double win.

To close this first night of motorsport mayhem at Puyallup, an epic fireworks show shot high into the night sky that had the spectators cheering on and on. Next on the list of shows for us at “The Allen Report” is our third trip to Tucson, AZ, this year for a show at the NASCAR sanctioned Tucson Speedway. More coverage from there on the way. On that note, thank you for reading, a special thanks to John Borba, Chelsea Kessler and the whole WGAS crew for their gracious hospitality, enjoy the photos and cheer on!

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