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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The Allen Report: Monster Truck Show – Del Mar, CA 2015

(Coverage By Christopher Allen, Photos By Jim Allen)

Weekend Recap

This time on “The Allen Report”, we travel back to the San Diego County Fair, a place that, for one hundred years, has delivered on fun rides, great food and exciting entertainment. And on the first, second and third of July, the entertainment was in the Del Mar Arena, where seven ground pounding monster trucks arrived to do battle in wheelie contest the first day, freestyle the second and, on the third day, qualifying in the afternoon and racing in the evening. The husband and wife team of Jim and Dawn Creten came to town, Jim in his sleek new black and yellow Bounty Hunter and Dawn in her traditional Scarlet Bandit. The “Flying Spaniard” Tony Canedo drove his newly purchased Survivor and Roger Stidell, as usual, piloted the trophy truck bodied Destroyer. The father-daughter team of Kelvin and Rosalee Ramer were in the house to defend their southern California home turf, Kelvin in his 1934 Ford Coupe Time Flys and Rosalee in her usual Wild Flower. Finally, Rick Swanson and his crowd-amazing Wrongway Rick arrived.

On the first day, the wheelie competition was heated. Rosalee Ramer showed how far she has come in only three years of competition with almost perfect verticality and great distance. Not to be outdone, her father Kelvin managed to get his monster on its back tires incredibly well, going vertical more than once. But Jim Creten had his wheelies down pat, often coasting mid-wheelie and not wasting any time. A perfect score of thirty saw Jim Creten take the afternoon show win. Only a few hours later, the crowd was back in the arena and so were the monsters. The Wild Flower driver gave admirable efforts, successfully going vertical on a couple occasions. But Jim Creten was unstoppable, shoving his wheelie bar deep into the dirt, not letting off the gas and delivering fantastic distance to get the double victory.

The second day saw high flying freestyle. Rick Swanson proved the namesake of his truck by getting good air, established great flow from one jump to the next, and, as always, finished off his run with some great donuts. Or reverse donuts, depending on which way he was going. Tony Canedo gave honorable attempts in Survivor’s freestyle run, but numerous teething problems hindered the trucks performance, and it showed on the judges’ scorecards. But Jim and Bounty Hunter are former World Champions, and they threw down. Cyclones, big air, great wheelies, you name it, Jim Creten did it. Even though his streak of perfect scores came to an end, it was still high enough to get the double victory.

During first show qualifying on the third and final day, Rosalee Ramer had officials looking at their stopwatches in amazement as she clocked in an incredible 13.40 seconds on the roundy-round course. Even Jim Creten and Bounty Hunter couldn’t overtake the multitalented eighteen year old, just more than one tenth of a second off the fastest time. With an odd numbered field, it was decided that Bounty Hunter would get a bye into the final round where the winner of a standard four truck bracket would face him. With the chance to face the winner from the past two straight days on the line, Rosalee Ramer and Dawn Creten faced off in an all female semi-final. In the first turn, Rosalee rolled hard into the freestyle ramp. Only the truck was damaged in the rollover and Rosalee was A-OK. Spectacular as it was, Dawn Creten won by default and with it the right to face her husband for the championship. The black and yellow Bounty Hunter crossed the finish line first, but WGAS officials concluded that Jim hit the second ramp with only one tire, costing him the race and the clean sweep. The overall Racing victory went to Dawn Creten, in only her third set of shows since April of this year, proving that the unbelievable horsepower extends to all members of Team 2Xtreme.

The crowd was also treated to Mini Dwarf car and Junior Outlaw Sprint car racing preceding each set of monster chaos. Numerous attempts to overtake and several close finishes had the crowd on edge from flag to flag more than once. The lack of repeat winners in either class showcased how competitive motor racing is, no matter the size of car.

And that’s a wrap from us here in Del Mar, as we next head north of Los Angeles to Pomona, where Fourth of July fireworks, backflipping freestyle motocross, even more monster action and a brand new stunt await us. That said, thank you for reading, a sincere thanks to John Borba and WGAS Motorsports for having us, enjoy the photos and cheer on!

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The Allen Report: Extreme Monster Air – Longview, WA 2014

(Coverage By Christopher Allen, Photos By Jim Allen)

Weekend Recap

This time on “The Allen Report”, we go up north to the Cowlitz County Fairgrounds in Longview, Washington to watch six monster trucks do battle in three rounds of freestyle. Promoter and Monster Truck Hall of Famer Mike Welch and his “Freaks of Freestyle” tour brought in Monroe, Washington’s Seth Fisher driving Tow Monster. Also there was veteran Jeff Bainter behind the wheel of Captain USA. Selma, California’s Randy Hoegh had the keys to the brand new, old school built, farming inspired identity Raging Raisin appearing for the very first time. Roger Stidell was in the house with Destroyer. Rounding out the battleground were Tyler Groth in Double Trouble and twin brother Travis Groth piloting Survivor.

The real heroes of the weekend were the “Freaks of Freestyle” track crew. Rain over the past day and a half threatened to make the venue a rodeo arena sized mud pit. But the crew smoothed out the track surface, making both mudslinging cyclones and good traction for sky high jumps equally possible. With two dirt-ramp-to-row-of-tires obstacles to hit and no shortage of room go into the spin, all signs pointed to hot and heavy, fast paced freestyle action.

As usual, the most popular competition in monster trucks today was a heated affair. Seth Fisher managed a few good hits on the tire-row obstacles and some fine donuts even with a broken steering pump. Roger Stidell had the crowd cheering with super-fast cyclones and great jumps in Destroyer before a broken transmission ended his day. Jeff Bainter showed no signs of slowing down with high speed and a jump onto the center landing ramp that brought the crowd to its feet. In the third and final round, Captain USA threw down with superb cyclones, lots of speed and big air. But the crowd cheered loudest of all for the show-ending pair freestyle starring Double Trouble and Survivor. Starting as a game of Follow the Leader, the two gradually went their own ways to entertain the huge crowd. Travis succeeded in bringing Survivor into dizzying donuts while Tyler jumped higher and higher over the tire rows every hit. The crowd went wild, clearly choosing the twins as the co-winners.

Also on the card was a mixture of classic and current filler acts as mud bog drag racing had the crowd making noise as did the burnout contest. We at “The Allen Report” sincerely urge fairground owners to contact Mike Welch to bring this great quality show to their venue. Next on the calendar for us at “The Allen Report” is monster truck figure-8 racing at the Rocky Mountain Raceways in West Valley City, Utah. Until that day, thank you for reading, a heartfelt thanks to all the Freaks of Freestyle staff for their hospitality, please don’t forget to “Like” the Freaks of Freestyle tour on Facebook, enjoy the photos and cheer on!

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