The Allen Report: Freaks of Freestyle – Longview, WA 2016

(Coverage By Christopher Allen, Photos By Jim Allen)

Weekend Recap

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!

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The Allen Report: Monster Trucks & FMX – Phoenix, AZ 2015

(Coverage By Christopher Allen, Photos By Jim Allen)

Weekend Recap

This time on “The Allen Report”, we go to the Arizona State Fairgrounds, a venue that has pretty much seen it all for the past one-hundred and thirty years, from the pre-war capital of motor racing in the city of Phoenix to a premier rodeo venue. And, of course, the Sanderson Ford Arena has seen no shortage of monster truck action, as it did over the fair closing weekend Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Six gear grinding, ground pounding monster trucks arrived to do battle in six shows throughout the weekend. The shows consisted of wheelie contest and freestyle over Friday and Saturday before the High Jump and freestyle competitions on Sunday.

The shows featured Lake Havasu City, Arizona’s Mark Schroeder and his Felon truck. From just a few hours south of Phoenix was Rod Wood and his McGruff monster, ready to take a bite out of the competition. There also was Mexico’s Cesar Nunez driving the sleek 1963 split window Corvette Rat Attack. There also was the California based father and son team of Rick and Eric Swanson. Rick, as usual, piloted his bright yellow trophy truck Obsession and twenty year old Eric took the helm of his blue pickup truck bodied Obsessed. Rounding out the field was Tucson’s Sam Sturges in his 1942 Dodge Panel Wagon Unnamed & Untamed.

The heads-up competition only got hotter as the weekend went on. In wheelie contest on Friday evening, all trucks gave great efforts, each driver pushing his truck to the limit to get the best wheelie possible. Things quickly boiled down to a showdown between McGruff and Rat Attack, both going vertical with regularity, often to good response from the huge crowd. In freestyle, the two wheelie bumps, a set of crush cars and a huge center ramp were all fair game to win over the audience. Both Rat Attack and McGruff got huge air over the center ramp while Felon worked his signature wheelies and did some cyclones that truly were dirt slinging to end the opening show on Friday.

On Saturday, the veteran Sam Sturges and Unnamed & Untamed got off to a fast start in the wheelie contest, going straight up and down to push way ahead of father and son Swanson. But in doing so, Unnamed broke an axle. The California team caught up quickly in freestyle, however, as both Rick and Eric smashed the crush cars and soared over the arena floor thanks to the big ramp in the middle, plus some great cross thread moves, all attempting to win over the fans. Because of Sam Sturges’ breakage, Cesar Nunez in Rat Attack stepped up to take his place. Not resting on his laurels from the first two shows, the corvette monster had an excellent power wheelie while the Obsession trucks struggled to do the same. But when it came to freestyle, Rick and Eric did not back down, getting increasingly big air into the night sky and crushing the cars multiple times to thunderous applause from the capacity crowd.

In the third show of the weekend midway through Saturday, McGruff was in a class all his own, breaking away from the competition. He did so with a great forty-five degree angle wheelie and changing things up with a terrific sky wheelie off the crush cars. And the fans ate it up. In freestyle, the end of Felon’s weekend came a little premature when the motor broke and the damage was not repairable. This left a shootout between Rat Attack and McGruff. But ignition problems plagued Rat Attack from the very start, giving the best run to the Tucson native behind the wheel of McGruff.

On the final day of the fair, show organizers changed things up for the crowd by having McGruff take the place of Obsessed. This led to a battle in wheelie contest for the ages. Both the Tucson representatives in McGruff and Unnamed & Untamed stood straight up and down with no clear winner between the two.

In the final show of the weekend, the High Jump competition had the crowd cheering on and the drivers continued to push their machines. Each monster got two jumps each to outperform the others. No official winner was announced to the enormous number of spectators in the stands, but Obsessed and Rat Attack clearly went the highest of all. In the fair closing freestyle, both Rat Attack and Unnamed & Untamed went for broke with superb slap wheelies, but McGruff put together an exciting run that had the fans cheering practically from start to finish by smashing the crush cars, and great sky wheelies to wrap things up for the monsters at the fair for 2015.

In other action, four daredevil freestyle motocross riders including a member of the famous Metal Mulisha wowed both the young and young at heart alike with spectacular tricks high above the arena floor. Well, we at “The Allen Report” are almost ready to catch a plane to Auburn, Indiana, home of the fifth Annual International Monster Truck Museum Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony & Reunion, where four legendary monster truck personalities will become enshrined into the Hall of Fame. Thank you for reading, a sincere thanks to Zack McKinley and Grand Canyon State Promotions for having us, enjoy the photos and cheer on!

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The Allen Report: Monster Truck Show – Phoenix, AZ 2015

(Coverage By Christopher Allen, Photos By Jim Allen)

Weekend Recap

This time on the Allen Report, we make our way to the Maricopa County Fair, which each year caters to a huge crowd with good food, thrilling rides and
excellent entertainment. On Friday and Sunday of the fair, the big crowd was in the Sanderson Ford Arena for high flying, super fast monster truck action. Tonight’s action would be provided through wheelie contest, roundy-round racing and freestyle. Friday featured Ben “Bobo” Winslow representing Sturges Motorsports in Nasty Boy. Fellow Tucson representatives Rod Wood and McGruff were in the house as well. The father and son team of Rick and Eric Swanson made the trip from California ready to give a show. On Sunday, these four were joined by the other two Sturges monster vehicles, Unnamed & Untamed with “Wildman Sam” Sturges at the controls and good friend Cesar Nunez at the helm of the ’63 Corvette Rat Attack.

On Friday, Nasty Boy and McGruff gave preview freestyle runs to get the crowd pumped up for later action. When the show officially began with wheelie contest, admirable efforts were given by all, but Rod Wood carried a beautiful slap wheelie most of the length of the floor despite little traction to the loudest applause from the crowd.

In side by side racing, officials decreed that not one but two laps would be required to achieve victory. In the heats, Rick Swanson had no trouble against Nasty Boy, punching his ticket to the finals. Son Eric did the same when Rod Wood gave a good race but was just unable to overtake the nineteen year old before the finish line jump. Before the finals, the two runners-up were bound for a third place race. But when mechanical issues prevented McGruff from firing up, the veteran Ben Winslow conserved his truck to make sure he got to the final jump and took third place. In the father and son racing finals, Rick had the lead halfway home but Eric was picking up speed. At the final jump of the bracket, nineteen year old Eric barely pulled out the victory, much to the delight of the audience.

In Freestyle, Nasty Boy soared through the Arizona sky and finally got the wheelies he had been seeking to much positive response from the crowd. Rod Wood was a man on a mission about not being able to race for third place and carried high speed, big air and superb cyclone donuts to put himself in the hunt for the freestyle win. Rick Swanson had had cross thread moves, huge air and great sky wheelies off the construction barriers, attempting to win over the fans. But Eric Swanson shot for the moon, duplicated his father’s sideways moves and put his truck into the spin cycle to the loudest cheers of all to sweep racing and freestyle the first night. With two shows to go on Sunday, the game was far from over.

On the first show Sunday, every driver gave good attempts, but Rod Wood did not rest on his laurels from two nights earlier, taking the second straight wheelie win, going straight up and down and riding it out for most of the arena floor. It wasn’t an easy win though, as Nasty Boy, Rat Attack and Unnamed & Untamed all gave the Tucson native a run for his money.

On to racing, where only one lap, not two, was needed to win. Rick Swanson buried the throttle to the floor to beat Nasty Boy coming to the finish line jump in the first round. He got the biggest air of the weekend, but a slap wheelie sent him into the concrete barriers at the the end of the track, heavily damaging the front differential. When only two trucks remained, Eric Swanson was looking to defend his Racing win streak, but Sam Sturges in Unnamed & Untamed had other ideas. When the checkered flag flew, Eric’s trophy truck monster was was just ahead of his veteran opponent, going two for two in Racing. In freestyle, every driver threw caution to the wind, hoping to get the loudest response from the spectators possible. But once more, the second generation driver Eric Swanson put big air, high speed and dusty cyclones all into the mix to a clapping and cheering crowd, clearly sweeping the Racing and Freestyle again.

In the fair closing show late Sunday, Racing was cut from the program to make room for the filler acts. For freestyle, some of the losing democross cars were made into a seven car jump and two vans were put in place as well to be crushed. In the final wheelie contest, the man behind McGruff picked up where he left off with perfect verticality and superb distance in two of his three tries to sweep wheelies for the weekend. In the final freestyle competition of the Maricopa County Fair, every driver gave it all. Nasty Boy was first to hit the two vans which gave way underneath him, sending him on his side. Driver and former bullfighter Ben Winslow was just fine. Cesar Nunez performed well in the Rat Attack vehicle, hitting every jump with gusto before a blown front tire ended his run early. But the driver behind the wheel of Obsessed was a kid on a mission. Big air over the cars, dirt slinging cyclones and high speed all through the run erased any doubt who the winner was.

The other acts alongside monster trucks were side by side tuff truck racing, which was won by John Davis in vehicle number 1495, an off road style pickup truck. John was actually behind until the final lap, where his opponent started to celebrate his victory one lap too early. And the last man standing democross had the audience both cheering and laughing with intentional spinning out, thunderous contact and vehicles coming down from the jumps on top of opposing cars’ trunks. A timed event, this race went on and on until one car was still running. That car was number 86 with Tim Randall at the wheel.

Well, monster truck fans, we at “The Allen Report” are just getting started with a busy summer and autumn schedule coming up fast and we look forward to keeping you updated from throughout the west coast, among other places. Thank you for reading, a sincere thanks to Zack and Grand Canyon State Promotions for having us, enjoy the photos and cheer on!

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Monster Photos: No Limits Monster Truck Winter Nationals – Monroe, LA 2015

Event Information

Event: No Limits Monster Truck Winter Nationals
Venue: Monroe Civic Center
Location: Monroe, Louisiana
Date: January 9th-10th, 2015
Photographer: Matthew Ison (Check out Matthew Ison Photography on Facebook)

Truck Lineup

Ghost Ryder (Larry Quick), Heartbreaker (Shannon Quick), Nasty Boy (Ben Winslow), Rat Attack (Ben Winslow), Unnamed & Untamed (Sam Sturges), Wicked Sickness (Mark Andrew) [Read more…]

The Allen Report – Monster Truck Show – Phoenix, AZ 2013

(Coverage By Christopher Allen, Photos By Jim Allen)

Weekend Recap

This time on “The Allen Report”, five regional favorites are pushed to the limit in two shows in a single day, the last day of the Maricopa County Fair. It was here, one year ago, where Grand Canyon State Promotions ventured into the world of monster trucks for the very first time. With the big crowd that followed last year, it made sense the monster trucks came back this year. The lineup looked like this: Tucson’s Rod Wood was in McGruff and Ronnie Sturges, as always, piloted Nasty Boy. His brother Travis filled in for their Uncle Sam in Unnamed & Untamed and a friend of the Sturges’ from just across the border in Mexico named Cesar Nunez took the helm of the sleek ’63 Corvette named Rat Attack. Finally, Jack Koberna, as always, drove Tuff-E-Nuff.

The race course of choice was “Minneapolis Style”, with the trucks starting in the middle and working their way around with the third jump representing the finish line. After Nasty Boy put McGruff in the dog pound, Rat Attack took the place of Unnamed against Tuff-E-Nuff after the 1942 Panel Wagon locked up both axles on the way to the starting line. Rat Attack won the right to face Nasty Boy in the first semi final. In the consolation race, McGruff got his groove back and tamed Tuff-E-Nuff to get another shot at the main event where Nasty Boy, having beaten Rat Attack, was there waiting. But history repeated itself when McGruff spun out in the final corner, giving the racing title to Ronnie Sturges. In the exhibition only freestyle, McGruff had some great air and kept the speed up very well. But the highlight came when Rat Attack launched off a starting line jump and followed it up with a slap wheelie before a tuff truck jump sent him on his side, much to the delight of the fans.

The evening show would see only 4 vehicles as Rat Attack’s rollover broke his hub inside the axle and it could not get fixed in time. But Unnamed & Untamed was back in the game with both third members in the axles fixed. In racing, McGruff rolled the dice one more time with Unnamed and won to advance to the finals. Nasty Boy downed Tuff-E-Nuff in the other semi to face Rod Wood for the third time in the same day. But first, the dark cloud finally lifted off of U & U when Travis Sturges drove to victory over New Mexico’s Jack Koberna in the third place race. In the main event, Rod Wood just could not stop the domination of Team Sturges at the Maricopa County Fair. Nasty Boy swept racing. To finish the night, all 4 trucks gave it all in a wild exhibition only freestyle. Jack Koberna, the southwest monster truck legend from New Mexico, threw out some huge air, a near vertical slap wheelie and some dusty donuts, much to the delight of the fans.

The shows also featured some tuff truck racing, freestyle motocross action and hilarious side by side SUV racing on the tuff truck course. For us at “The Allen Report”, we are headed over to Los Angeles next to cover Robby Gordon’s SST race at the venue where stadium off road racing all began, the L.A. Memorial Coliseum. So, thank you for reading, a huge thanks to Grand Canyon State Promotions for their hospitality, enjoy the photos and cheer on!

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