(Coverage By Christopher Allen, Photos By Jim Allen)
This time on “The Allen Report”, we travel to West Valley City, Utah, just outside Salt Lake. It’s a city with an extensive sports résumé from the 2002 Winter Olympic Games, to minor league baseball, to major league hockey and basketball. But on this weekend, the All Star Monster Truck Tour arrived in the Maverik Center with six car crushing, high flying monster trucks. All the way from Lafayette, Indiana was Aaron Cain piloting the world’s largest ATV, Quad Chaos. Right behind was teammate Jerry Beck behind the wheel of the world’s only flying dump truck, the Dodge bodied Dirt Crew. During the pit parties, there were some construction toys behind Dirt Crew for the kids to play with. Tucson, Arizona’s own Unnamed & Untamed was in the house, driven by Sam Sturges, as was Nasty Boy with Derek Ritter at the controls. Defending the Utah home turf was West Jordan’s Ron Duncombe and the Maverik Monster Trakker. Finally, Kreg Christensen from South Willard took time off from the Australian monster truck circuit to bring his radical looking part Studebaker, part Camaro monster known as Wicked to the arena.
Wheelie contest, single pass obstacle course racing and freestyle were the weekend’s competitions for the monsters. With points on the line for every discipline to determine an overall champion in each show, every round counted and consistency would win.
On Friday evening, things got off to a wild start when Nasty Boy, the first truck out in wheelie contest, went far beyond vertical and rolled onto its side. The driver was okay, but making only one of a maximum of two attempts meant his score wouldn’t be much, only 10 out of a possible 20. Unnamed & Untamed, a monster set up very well for wheelies, gave an admirable attempt off both the step up obstacle and the crush cars to take the lead with a score of 13. The very next truck was Dirt Crew and he gave an excellent run, pointing the dump truck’s nose towards the ceiling of the Maverik Center. The judges rewarded him with a score of 14. Jerry Beck was able to hold off both of the last two competitors to take the wheelie contest win and take the points lead.
In obstacle course, the imperfect figure 8 style track proved tricky for even the experienced drivers, as Sam Sturges turned in a lap in just under 22 seconds. Looking to better his chances at the overall championship, Jerry Beck threw down a very good pass to take the new fastest time at 18.54. But the twenty four year veteran of the sport, Kreg Christensen went even faster, clocking in a time of 16.37. The last truck in the order, Quad Chaos, couldn’t do better and Wicked stormed into the overall championship lead with only freestyle to go.
In the main event, Monster Trakker went out first as electrical problems kept Nasty Boy off the floor and out of the competition. Ron Duncombe’s efforts, including a decent sky wheelie and good air off the step up garnered him a score of 25 of a possible 40. Dirt Crew was fourth in line of the six trucks and put together an all-around exciting run. The professional judges gave him a score of 28 with only Wicked and teammate Quad Chaos left to go. But Kreg Christensen was a man on a mission, getting huge air off the FMX mountain, nailing a reverser over the crush cars and rarely letting off the loud pedal to get the crowd roaring. The judges rewarded his run with a 35 point score. Quad Chaos just couldn’t match the international superstar and Wicked took the freestyle and overall event championships to start the weekend.
In the first of two shows on Saturday, Sam Sturges improved greatly from the first show, pointing U&U’s nose at the roof of the arena. His efforts did not go unnoticed by the judges as his score was 14, leaving only a six point window in which Sam could be overtaken. Wicked and Dirt Crew both gave everything they had, but could only tie for second. Sam Sturges won the wheelie contest, making it two different winners in as many wheelie competitions.
Full of confidence after getting his first win of the weekend, Sam did not let up in the obstacle course, finishing his lap in a time of 20.91. Wicked was the fourth truck out in the ladder and slowed down a little from the first show with an elapsed time of 18.32, but it was still good enough to take the top spot on the grid. Next up was Quad Chaos, who fell short of the number one spot by just six-tenths of a second. The last truck in line, Dirt Crew, was a full second off the high watermark, giving back to back obstacle course wins to Kreg Christensen.
On to freestyle, where Ron Duncombe’s weekend came to a premature end when a hard landing off the FMX mountain blew out the rear shocks on both sides. Despite the damage, Ron’s score was still very good at 30, just ten points shy of perfection. Starting the second half of the field was the two time obstacle course winner, who soared through the afternoon sky off the FMX ramp, again hit the cars in reverse and stood on the throttle again and again to receive a score of 35. The last two monsters just couldn’t clear the bar and Wicked got back to back overall championships. With only the evening show to go, there was one more shot for the other drivers to stop the clean sweep from the twenty four year veteran.
When the biggest crowd all weekend piled into the Maverik Center for the last show, the stakes were high, and the drivers didn’t disappoint. Jerry Beck and Dirt Crew gave a spectacular wheelie contest run and got a score of 17 to boot, leaving the window of opportunity very small. Two time overall champion Wicked came the closest at 15, but it wasn’t enough to stop Dirt Crew from becoming the multi-time wheelie contest winner for the weekend.
During obstacle course racing, things got wild with the first two trucks in line. Unnamed & Untamed got up on two wheels but saved it. The lack of time on the board due to a DNF wasn’t enough to silence the crowd. Nasty Boy, even fighting electrical issues between shows also bicycled for a moment before saving it, all this before driver Derek Ritter had even staged for his run.
This gave the fans an even bigger reason to cheer. When Wicked took to the track, the time he had to beat, 19.39, had been laid down one run earlier by Dirt Crew. Kreg was up to the challenge, and he stepped up. The hybrid hot rod turned in a time that was faster than his nearest competitor by almost three seconds at 16.5. This meant that the overall championship clean sweep was within reach and the same feat for obstacle course had been done.
On to the crowd favorite freestyle, where Unnamed & Untamed got off to a fast start with wheelies and even donuts to get a score of 27. Quad Chaos went for one last shot to take a win with big air and clearing the crush cars. A score of 34 meant there was still room left for the two winningest trucks that had still to run. Both Dirt Crew and Wicked had incredible runs that had the crowd cheering on and on. In a strange turn of events, both trucks tied with scores of 35. But Wicked had more points coming into the cheer off, so the former Dragon Slayer owner and past Maximum Destruction driver already had the overall championship swept for the weekend. And when the crowd erupted in Kreg’s favor during the freestyle deciding cheer off, it was clear that the weekend sweep of the crowd favorite competition belonged to Wicked as well, closing out the weekend.
During a winning interview, Kreg revealed to an enthusiastic audience that the year 2017 marked his twenty-fifth year in the business and, with it, the return of the Dragon Slayer monster Hummer. Other action saw highly competitive Pro Arena Truck racing, a longstanding tradition at the Maverik Center. The racing was tight and fast with three different winners in as many races. Also, freestyle motocross rider Paul “Smitty” Smith gave the fans a wide variety of gravity defying, death cheating tricks, culminating in backflip variations.
Well, we now turn our attention to the biggest monster truck event in the world, the Monster Jam World Finals. The next edition of “The Allen Report” is currently slated to come to you from the Maricopa County Fair in our hometown of Phoenix. For up to the minute, instant updates from our travels, be sure to follow us on Facebook and Instagram under “Monster Truckin’ with Jim and Chris“. On that note, thank you for reading, a sincere thank-you to Bryan Wagner and the entire All Star Monster Truck Tour staff for their generous hospitality, enjoy the photos and cheer on!