(Coverage By Christopher Allen, Photos By Jim Allen)
This time on “The Allen Report”, we travel north to Longview, Washington, a town with all sorts of automotive repair shops and beautiful scenery. It was into this great scenario for motorsport that International Monster Truck Hall of Famer Mike Welch brought his Freaks of Freestyle show to the Cowlitz County Fairgrounds. Four giant monster trucks would go take each other on in freestyle that was more intended for loud applause than high scores.
From Tucson, Arizona were all three amigos in the Sam Sturges contingent. Once more, Sam Sturges himself drove the 1942 Dodge Panel Wagon Unnamed & Untamed and recently married Kendra Duggar took the helm of the 1963 Split Window Corvette Rat Attack. To complete the trio, Jason Hall, a former driver of numerous monsters built by Mike himself, stepped into the seat of the 1942 Willys Nasty Boy. Rounding out the field was Yakima, Washington’s Jeff Bainter and Captain USA. Jeff brought a surprise with him for the huge crowds that would turn up at the fairgrounds. Jeff had restored the World’s Largest Jeep, the legendary Hot Stuff and slightly revamped it into a ride truck. The vehicle had done some birthday parties and other occasions but this was the first appearance back in the motorsport spotlight. Jason Hall gave rides to all who desired before and after the shows, between them and during intermission. With a dirt-ramp-to-tires obstacle and several concrete blocks with steep dirt ramps on either side complimented by lots of room for wheelies and donuts, there was plenty of room for the monster trucks to play.
The real people deserving attention were the Freaks of Freestyle track maintenance crew. Heavy rain just hours before show-time prompted officials to replenish the messed up mud pits and to dry the main floor best they could. The track was ready for action just as the public filed in. We at “The Allen Report” gladly tip our hats to the track crew for their hard work and refusal to let the elements overpower them.
To open the monster action, Jason Hall and Nasty Boy made an admirable attempt at a slap wheelie and came around for another try. With the front axle about halfway up, the left rear planetary suddenly locked up, bringing his run to a premature end. Between shows, the Sturges team was able to fix the damage and Nasty Boy would return for the evening. Undeterred by the breakage, Sam Sturges went even harder and performed a beautiful slap wheelie to the applause of the spectators. Rat Attack reached for the sky over all the jumps multiple times and even performed some donuts. Jeff Bainter and Captain USA jumped high multiple times and tried to match the Sturges stable in the wheelies department multiple times and gave an all around great performance.
With the show back on again after intermission, Captain USA came right back out and gave big air and even a rare sky wheelie to get the audience pumped up. Rat Attack came back out and kicked up some muddy donuts. As driver Kendra Duggar came back past the pit area, that was Sam Sturges’ cue. He came out onto the fairground floor right behind his teammate and they did a spectacular pair freestyle to end the matinee show.
When another fantastic crowd filled the grandstands for the evening show, the pressure to perform was on, but the drivers were ready. Right out of the gate, Rat Attack picked up right where she left off, doing great cyclones and pumping the crowd for what was to come. Sam Sturges again went for the team’s signature slap wheelies, giving a great show. With the planetary all fixed, Jason Hall took to the floor out for revenge and he clearly won the day against the track, finding the wheelies he wanted several times. Captain USA continued to sky it for the Longview crowd and they were thankful, clapping and cheering as the Pacific Northwest legend drove back to the pits.
In the final runs of the evening, the monsters went all out on the fairground floor. Kendra and Rat Attack only furthered her cyclone assault and even let get a couple big tires get a little muddy at the finish line end of the mud pits. Nasty Boy nailed some slap wheelies and got good air to finish on a high note. Unnamed and Untamed performed well one last time as driver and team leader Sam Sturges looked towards the sky once more and got some good air to seal the deal. As Jeff Bainter freestyled the track, Jeff knew he had only one more chance to please the fans. So, the multi-decade veteran of monster trucks cross-threaded the mud pits to put the crowd on their feet one more time.
In other action, a trio of local favorite racers called the Wolfpack, piloting mega trucks took to the floor and tried to duplicate the action supplied by the monsters. They jumped over the concrete blocks, went up the dirt ramps and one truck even rolled over twice in the same show. Also, fans were treated to a different kind of burnout. Only one car appeared, but the ensuing burnout resulted in thick pink smoke. Fans were also treated to numerous classes of thick, oozy, side by side mud bog racing. Finally, History Channel star and stuntman Dr. Danger teamed up with another Mike Welch alum Sammy “The Rocka” Baca to bring the iconic Wall of Steel stunt. Both times the stunt was executed beautifully.
Finally, the intermission in both shows ended with the doctor appearing to “blow up” some persons and lighting them on fire. The fans were advised to “not try this at home as these performers were professionals with special safety gear”. Both times this highly dangerous stunt was done successfully, safely and no one was injured.
Well, we at “The Allen Report” now turn our attention towards the majestic, peaceful and 30 degrees cooler Del Mar, California, where our friends at WGAS Motorsports put on an exceptional show every year. Well, thank you for reading, a sincere thank you goes out to Mike Welch and the Freaks of Freestyle crew for a great show and a great time, enjoy the photos, and cheer on!