The Allen Report: Budweiser Monster Truck Fall Nationals – Turlock, CA 2016

(Coverage By Christopher Allen, Photos By Jim Allen)

Weekend Recap

This time on “The Allen Report”, we make a long trek to Turlock, California for the second time in 2016, and third time overall. Upon our arrival, we headed to the Budweiser Monster Truck Fall Nationals at the Stanislaus County Fairgrounds, presented by our friends at WGAS Motorsports as their last show of the season. Six high flying, ground pounding monster trucks came to the fairgrounds to slug it out in the car munching madness of freestyle.

From just a few hours away in Vacaville, CA was the team of Tony Canedo. Teammate and friend Jeff Souza drove team truck Enforcer while “The Flying Spaniard” Tony himself, as always, got behind the wheel of his bright red Play’n for Keeps. Rosalee Ramer took a weekend off from studying at Georgia Tech to take the wheel of her Wild Flower monster truck. Her father, Kelvin Ramer, took to the track in his trusty 1934 Ford Coupe he calls Time Flys. Finally, husband and wife Jimmy and Dawn Creten arrived, ready to invade the fairgrounds and defeat the competition. Once more, Dawn was behind the wheel of Scarlet Bandit, with the words “You can’t catch me!” displayed with pride on the tailgate. Jimmy Creten was piloting his usual American Sniper Bounty Hunter. With professional judges ready and a perfect score of 100 on the line, every move would count and consistency was crucial.

During the driver’s meeting earlier in the day, a random draw was held to determine freestyle order, a rare moment for WGAS Motorsports. Much to the dismay of the Grand Champion from the spring event last May, Jimmy Creten, he was out first. But in true Bounty Hunter fashion, the former World Champion came out with a storming run. One of Bounty Hunter’s first moves was a sky wheelie on top of a pair of pink-painted vans which crushed them down flat, but he also performed some beautiful slap wheelies, big air and even a rare triple combination of moves across the motorsports arena floor to set the standard for those still to come. With a score of 95, it wasn’t going to be easy for the remaining monsters to clear the bar set by Jimmy Creten.

Tony Canedo hit the tuff truck jumps and nailed slap wheelies for an admirable effort and score of 87. Time Flys continued the wheelie assault and hit the van stack with power. Jeff Souza and Enforcer smashed the crush cars and reached for the sky in another great freestyle. The last run of the afternoon went to the 2016 Monster Jam Rookie of the Year, Rosalee Ramer and Wild Flower. The young lady set to compete on the Monster Jam FS1 West points championship next year had a fantastic run going with huge air and a spectacular slap wheelie when she got a little too close to the arena boundaries and she had to be shut off by the event officials. Upon restart, Wild Flower was in great shape to continue on, but then a steering line blew and the run ended then and there. None of the competitors that had gone after Bounty Hunter achieved a higher score and Creten was the afternoon champion, but it wasn’t game over yet for his rivals, as there was still one more show to go that evening.

In the evening show, all drivers gave great freestyle efforts as they tried to top each other in a different order from the afternoon. Big air was accomplished, donuts were spun and what was left of the crush cars were smashed down even further. In a rare moment, Jimmy Creten was beaten in the evening show by Kelvin Ramer and Time Flys. Both had put together incredible efforts to impress the professional judges and when the scores were handed down, Bounty Hunter had fallen short of Time Flys by one single point. But the honest competition over two shows and very decent crowds both times had assured a very good season ending weekend for the WGAS Motorsports crew.

But the big monsters weren’t alone at the Stanislaus County Fairgrounds. Jeff Souza’s son Hunter brought his Wrecking Machine mini-monster to give a good show and, in the evening, brought the crowd to its feet with a sky wheelie that was a little too steep, ending in a backwards rollover. Hunter was just fine and the spectators loved it anyway. Also, there were two rounds a show of two different classes of tuff truck racing, creating four rounds of tuff truck racing altogether. Fastest time in both sessions was the winner. The competition was a heated affair, with drivers of both classes pushing hard to take the winner’s plaque.

On that note, we at “The Allen Report” are in the middle of preparation for the 6th Annual International Monster Truck Museum Hall of Fame Ceremony & Reunion in Auburn, Indiana. On the eve of Friday, November 11th, there will be a meet n’ greet with both past and incoming inductees as well as other classic monster truck owners and drivers. In the late morning of November 12th, there will be a history discussion with the inductees followed that evening by an inductee autograph session, a hearty meal and the Hall of Fame ceremony itself. We hope to see you there.

Well, thank you all for reading. We especially want to extend our gracious thank-yous to John Borba, his daughter Chelsea Kessler and the whole WGAS Crew for having us this weekend and past all this past year, don’t forget to follow us on Facebook and Instagram under the name “Monster Truckin’ with Jim and Chris”, enjoy the photos and cheer on!

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The Allen Report: Kaboom Monster Trucks – Pomona, CA 2016

(Coverage By Christopher Allen, Photos By Jim Allen)

Weekend Recap

This time on “The Allen Report”, we make our way to Pomona, California, a town rich in motorsport history as the home of one of the first professional drag strips and that of the official NHRA museum. But on this day, five giant monster trucks took to the Pomona Fairplex to do battle in head to head racing and motor home munching, high flying freestyle.

Jimmy Creten came to town in his slick looking Yellow Stripe Bounty Hunter with East Coast regular Matt Cody behind the wheel of the pickup Iron Outlaw. Rod Wood, piloting McGruff, made the trip from just outside Tucson, Arizona. Rounding out the field was Vacaville, California’s Tony “Flying Spaniard” Canedo driving Play ‘n 4 Keeps with teammate Jeff Souza in tow, who took the wheel of Enforcer. This is a name that garnered legendary status throughout the West Coast under ownership of Terminator’s Gary Schott in the ‘90s before being retired. However, the name was brought back into the public eye at this venue two years ago as the third member of Tony’s trio of monsters.

WGAS officials constructed an interesting double-semi-oval race course. Both trucks would race down off the giant tabletop in the middle of the floor in opposite directions. Next the monsters would go around a hairpin turn before putting the heel to the steel and jumping past each other over the finish line ramp. With the odd number of monster vehicles in the field, reigning champion Bounty Hunter got a bye to the finals where he would await the winner of a standard four truck bracket.

To open racing, Jeff Souza and Enforcer upended McGruff and Iron Outlaw beat Play ‘n 4 Keeps to advance to the semi-finals. With the right to face Bounty Hunter on the line, both trucks ran a great race, but it was Iron Outlaw who took the win. The championship race was one for the history books. The finish was so close, officials could not agree on who to call as the winner. So it was decided to rerun the championship race. With the title still undecided as the green flags waved again, both drivers pushed even harder, but this time, the race was more decisive, with Bounty Hunter narrowly taking the win and retaining his championship. But freestyle was still to come.

Upset about his racing loss, Jeff Souza went out first. With a good run going, his rear axle got away from him coming down from the big hill and blew the rear tire. McGruff put himself in the hunt with great slap wheelies, smashing one of the two motor homes and having consistent good speed. Play‘n 4 Keeps destroyed the other motor home, carried beautiful wheelies and even performed some dusty donuts to the delight of the crowd. Even a bent champagne couldn’t keep the veteran from having a great run. But Bounty Hunter could not be stopped. Driver Jimmy Creten gave the judges everything they were looking for and so much more. Right as his run ended, the other trucks that were still mechanically good came back on the floor. For the finale, all the monsters came down the side of the big hill and went right into cyclones. That was the cue for the preliminary pyrotechnics. This set the stage for the fireworks, a longstanding tradition at the KaBoom! event. Once more, the display from smiley faces, to all sorts of color combinations, to the usual red, white and blue, the Fourth of July tradition of fireworks had the fans cheering the whole time.

In other action, Chachi “The Rocketman” Valencia loaded himself into a cannon and shot himself one hundred and sixty-three feet through the air and landed perfectly in his safety net. As you can expect, the crowd was going nuts. Another KaBoom! tradition continued with four of the top freestyle motocross riders in the nation delivering a wide variety of death defying tricks, the most notable of which were backflip variations.

Well, we at “The Allen Report” are turning our attention to the month of August and the biggest monster truck event in the state of Utah, the 20th Anniversary Maverik Clash of the Titans. This year is slated to be the biggest of them all with no less than 16 trucks on the card for figure 8 racing, wheelie contest and freestyle. Well monster truck fans, thanks for reading, a sincere thank-you to Chelsea Kessler and all the WGAS officials for another great time on Independence Day, enjoy the photos and cheer on!

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The Allen Report: Budweiser Monster Truck Spring Nationals – Turlock, CA 2016

(Coverage By Christopher Allen, Photos By Jim Allen)

Weekend Recap

“The Allen Report” is back and we return to the Stanislaus County Fairgrounds in Turlock, California, this time in the month of May for the popular Budweiser Monster Truck Spring Nationals. Turlock is a relaxed, peaceful town where the biggest disturbance is normally the frequent freight train. However, there was some additional noise in the air on Friday and Saturday night where seven high flying, car smashing monster trucks arrived to do battle in bus munching, donut spinning freestyle.

Making the trip from Tonganoxie, Kansas were Jimmy Creten and Bounty Hunter. Popular hometown driver Russell Steeley stepped up to drive team truck Iron Outlaw for the final time so he could give his pulling truck his sole attention in the near future. From just down the road in Menifee, California, were the father/son duo of Rick and Eric Swanson. Former Monster Jam Young Guns Shootout competitor Eric was behind the wheel of his pickup bodied Obsessed and Rick continued his 20th anniversary of professional monster trucking in his breathtaking Obsession, complete with a film strip featuring just a fraction of his numerous TV and commercial appearances running down either side. Rounding out the field was Tony Canedo, who brought all three of his trucks, ready to give a good show to the crowd. David Tucker would take the wheel of Survivor and Jeff Souza would pilot Enforcer while Tony himself stuck to his usual Play ‘N for Keeps.

With two buses to crush, a van stack at the arena entry, two great spaces for getting into the spin cycle and several tuff truck jumps to get the monsters off the ground, there was no room for error and every freestyle point would count. As the huge crowd filed in for the pre-show autograph session and the show on Friday night, the drivers could feel the pressure.

First truck out was Jeff Souza and Enforcer who immediately got huge air over the bus stack. Obsession with Rick Swanson at the wheel came out next, got good air and great donuts. The third truck in the order was Survivor, and the iconic Pacific Northwest name under new ownership put together a great run, clearing the tuff truck jumps and doing a nosedive over the bus that saw driver David Tucker just barely bring it back down onto all fours. Next in line was Iron Outlaw, who cleared the entire bus stack completely, kept the speed up the whole run and did some lightning fast cyclones as Russ Steeley finished up his second to last ever run in a monster truck. His effort rewarded him with a score of 86 with 100 being perfection. Truck after truck came after him but it wasn’t until the last truck in line and former World Champion hit the floor. Jimmy Creten matched Russell jump for jump, but carried several great wheelies across the fairgrounds floor to take the lead and the Friday night victory.

The second and final night of monster truck competition saw a big crowd and bigger efforts by every monster pilot in the field. However, the end of the night came a little too soon for the first truck out Enforcer. Coming down from the van stack awkwardly, the 1990s West Coast monster legend in its new form blew the left front tire. Jeff Souza wasn’t hurt, however, and that was the closest to a major incident the whole night. In his last ever appearance behind the wheel of a monster vehicle, hometown hitter Russell Steeley gave huge air over the bus, and an admirable wheelie attempt to put him back in the lead with the championship in sight. The young rising star Eric Swanson pushed his machine to its limit, clearing the bus stack both ways and turning in his family’s usual great donuts to get the crowd screaming. Last out was the only driver who could earn back to back titles. Jimmy Creten gave everything the fans wanted; big air, wheelies and donuts. It was not an unrewarded attempt either as the second perfect score in as many nights garnered Bounty Hunter the double victory. Both the 2Xtreme drivers were interviewed for the crowd and were thankful to the fans for showing up to support them.

In other race action, Jeff Souza’s son Hunter, Lee Plato’s son Shane and Corbin Shockey practiced for the big leagues with the Wrecking Machine, Skull Krusher and Monster Buddy mini monsters, respectively. Also there was one at a time, vehicle against timed tuff truck racing which saw the crowd cheering the reckless drivers and booing the cautious ones. One of the tuff truck participants was former Mike Welch Motorsports driver Sammy Baca out of Modesto, CA. Finally, the future of racing was on full display as kids drove Junior Outlaw Sprint and Mini Dwarf racecars on a tight oval around the bus stack with very little room to overtake. This made the racing exciting for all in attendance. During opening ceremonies for both shows, a moment of silence was held for longtime WGAS announcer Lloyd Massey who tragically passed away just days before the Monster Jam World Finals this year.

Okay, now we at “The Allen Report” look to make a return to Longview, Washington, to support Mike Welch Freaks of Freestyle and we do so hoping for better weather this time. In the meantime, thank you for reading, a special thank you to Chelsea Kessler and the entire WGAS crew for having us, enjoy the photos, don’t forget to follow us in real time under the name “Monster Truckin’ with Jim and Chris” on Facebook and Instagram, and cheer on!

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The Allen Report: Monster Truck Show – Perris, CA 2015

(Coverage By Christopher Allen, Photos By Jim Allen)

Weekend Recap

This time on “The Allen Report”, we make our way to Perris, CA, a quiet town which, for fifty-one weeks a year is a quiet, relaxing SoCal town. But on this weekend, WGAS Motorsports brought eight of the best monster trucks in the region to Perris Auto Speedway to open the Southern California fair. Former World Champion Jim Creten and Bounty Hunter lead the charge with wife and teammate Dawn Creten right behind in her typical Scarlet Bandit. Defending the home state turf was Kelvin Ramer in his 1934 Ford Coupe Time Flys. Wild Flower was in the house as well, but with Rosalee Ramer busy attending Georgia Tech, the driver’s seat was occupied by Kelvin’s friend Jeff Souza. Tony Canedo brought his fan favorite Play N’ 4 Keeps to the Speedway, with Roger Stidell in Destroyer right behind. Tony pulled double duty this weekend, also driving Survivor while friend John Northcutt took to the cockpit of Tony’s third truck, Enforcer. When a capacity crowd piled in for the freestyle action, taking place on the front straight-a-way of the Perris Auto Speedway, all signs pointed to a real battle for the championship.

In the afternoon competition, Survivor and Enforcer got the crowd pumped up with nice runs featuring good air and honorable attempts at slap wheelies. Jeff Souza and Wild Flower got big air over the painted tire obstacle and carried high speed throughout the run to take the lead. Dawn Creten, not to be outdone, soared through the bright blue sky and followed it up with some dusty cyclones at either end of the front straight to put herself in the hunt for the win. Kelvin Ramer immediately announced his presence and did several nice slap wheelies and great combos to take the lead with only one truck to go. But Bounty Hunter proved unstoppable, shooting for the moon, doing lightning fast donuts and appearing to never lift off the throttle had the crowd roaring, clearly acknowledging the Tonganoxie, Kansas, native as the champion for the afternoon show.

Just a few hours passed before it was show time all over again. Destroyer had a good run going before sparks started showering from his front brake rotor, prompting officials to shut him down. It wasn’t an easy finale for Survivor, too. Midway through his run, the driver tried to pull a slap wheelie when the steering line broke and he too had to be pulled off the track. Jeff Souza seriously stepped up from the first show with huge air and dizzying cyclones to have the crowd on his side, at least for the moment. Dawn Creten had a high speed run with great air to again tie for the lead for the time being. Then, Time Flys got some great air and complimented it with an incredible save to get the crowd fired up. But just like the afternoon, Jim Creten was a man on a mission with incredible slap wheelies, huge air and super fast cyclones until the left rear ring gear snapped. Not wanting to make things worse, Jim Creten called it quits, but not before he had put together a fantastic freestyle run that had the crowd cheering on and on, obviously cementing himself as the double winner.

In other motorsport action, the sellout crowd was treated to mini dwarf car and junior outlaw sprint racing, where hairpin turns and close walls on either side had the racing very competitive. Also, Jake Blackwell gave rides in his Extinguisher ride truck deep into the night. So, we at “The Allen Report” are now headed to one of the last shows of the year for WGAS Motorsports, the Monster Truck Fall Nationals at the Stanislaus County Fairgrounds in Turlock, CA. We look forward to giving you more coverage from there. In the meantime, thank you for reading, a sincere thank-you to John Borba all the WGAS Motorsports crew for hosting us, enjoy the photos and cheer on!

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