(Coverage By Christopher Allen, Photos By Jim Allen)
This time on “The Allen Report”, we make our way to West Valley City, Utah, a state full of motorsport history as some of the biggest names in speed have gathered at the legendary Bonneville Salt Flats to be the fastest man on wheels. However, on the second weekend of August, Rocky Mountain Raceways holds its traditional Maverik Clash of the Titans monster truck figure-8 race event, this year for the historic twentieth consecutive year. To commemorate the event, a record sixteen monster trucks were invited, the most ever at this event.
Leading the charge were all four members of Jimmy Creten’s 2Xtreme Racing. Jimmy himself drove the American Sniper Bounty Hunter while wife and teammate Dawn, as usual, took the steering wheel of Scarlet Bandit. Tim “Mullet” Missentzis piloted the pickup Iron Outlaw. And the lead guitarist of metal band Five Finger Death Punch himself, Zoltan Bathory from Hungary brought his insane looking 3D-bodied Knucklehead to compete. From just up the road in South Willard, Utah was Kreg Christensen in his hot rod hybrid Wicked on Sunday. On Saturday, Kreg’s stepson Paul Jensen drove Wicked before stepping into the radical trophy truck bodied monster in its first public outing, Kamikaze on Sunday. Twins Travis and Tyler Groth arrived to do battle; Travis in his orange Trouble Maker and Tyler in the bright green Double Trouble.
Another set of twins was in the house this weekend as Aaron Basl filled in for David Smith in King Krunch while brother Daron, as usual, took the helm of the reborn El Matador after several years of the Nitro Hornet identity. Darren Migues (pronounced Me-guess) had both trucks in tow. Darren himself hopped in the driver’s seat of Nitro Menace while his daughter Kaylyn continued her blossoming monster truck career in Jailbird. From West Jordan, Utah was Ron “the Dunc” Duncombe in the Maverik Monster Trakker. Returning to the Raceway for the third straight year were Doug Charles and Wild Thang. Rounding out the field was southwestern monster truck legend Jimmy Lyons stepping in for Rod Wood to drive McGruff and Lake Havasu, Arizona’s Mark Schroeder in the cockpit of Felon.
On Saturday qualifying to open the weekend, Bounty Hunter set the pace as the first truck out at a time of 30.97 seconds. None of the trucks that followed him could go faster and Jimmy Creten got off to a strong start as the number one qualifier. In the opening round of eliminations, Scarlet Bandit and Iron Outlaw both crossed the finish line first in their respective heat races to face each other in the quarter finals. On the opposite side of the bracket, the brothers Groth both won their first round races, but would have to race against each other in the third heat of the second round. In the final opening round race, Kaylyn Migues was unable to defeat the more experienced Mark Schroeder, but garnered a good ovation from the crowd nonetheless. Bounty Hunter would out-race Maverik Monster Trakker and Iron Outlaw over the next two rounds, earning his spot in the championship race. Double Trouble did the same by defeating his own brother in the quarters and Felon in the semis to meet the former World Champion in the two lap finals. The championship round was one for the history books. Jimmy Creten got the jump off the line and had a clear cut lead going into the second half of the race. With only one corner to go, Tyler Groth whipped his truck around the turn and past an unsuspecting Jim Creten to take the Racing title.
To close the Saturday night show, a donut contest was held for the very first time after many years of wheelies, billed as a “Twister” competition. Despite being down about five hundred horsepower, Jimmy Lyons gave an admirable effort and low scores couldn’t keep the noise from the spectators down. Former Australian Monster Finals competitor Paul Jensen quickly shed the rust by turning the half Studebaker, half Camaro monster Wicked into the spin cycle and being rewarded with a good score of 8.75, with 10.0 being perfection. The very next truck out was Aaron Basl and King Krunch. His run had the crowd picking up noise as he picked up speed and cleared the bar set by Wicked with a hard to beat score of 9.35. Truck after truck came after him, but it wasn’t until the Racing champion came out when the legendary Texas monster was beaten. Tyler Groth spun Double Trouble so fast he was bicycling on two wheels before laying off the throttle to bring it down on the rubber side. The crowd was roaring and the professional judges were impressed too, giving the Gig Harbor, Washington driver the Saturday Twister win and the clean sweep.
On Sunday, a big crowd filed in for the pre show pit party and into the stands for the final night of the twentieth anniversary of the event. Scarlet Bandit was the first truck out for qualifying and she put together a very nice run, punching in a time of 31.94 seconds. By the halfway point of qualifications, Trouble Maker held the lead with a time of 31.35 seconds. But Jim Creten, the ninth of sixteen drivers out, set a new standard of 30.39, bettering his time from Saturday. That time took the lead and held it to the end. In the third heat of the first round of eliminations, Zoltan and Knucklehead won against a struggling Aaron Basl and King Krunch. In the first race of the second round, Bounty Hunter faced off against former teammate driver Kreg Christensen and Wicked. The superstar in both America and Australia put up a good fight right up until the third of the four corners, where the truck did a complete 270, ensuring that Bounty Hunter was one step closer to getting another shot at the racing win. Reigning racing champion Double Trouble was out to defend his crown and got off to a great start, dispensing of Monster Trakker and Wild Thang to reach the semi finals. But his twin Travis was there waiting. Travis gave it everything he had, pushing Trouble Maker to the limit, but Tyler could not be stopped, punching his ticket to the two lap finals for the second straight night. After beating teammate Iron Outlaw in the semi-finals, Jim Creten got the rematch he wanted. This time, the 21 year veteran of the sport could not be stopped, sliding Bounty Hunter around the turns beautifully and standing on the loud pedal down the straightaways. Tyler Groth raced as hard as he could but the power of Bounty Hunter was too much, as the Tonganoxie, Kansas native took the racing championship that had eluded him the night before, fair and square. With two minute freestyle next in line to end the event, the battle was far from over.
The track construction crew had put together a great track with a wheelie bump at one end, a ramp for big air at the other and a double van stack off the back straightaway, all fitting considering the magnitude and prestige of this year’s event.
To open freestyle, Darren Migues and Nitro Menace got off to a great start, hitting all the obstacles with gusto, doing great donuts and not stopping until his brake rotors were glowing and shooting sparks. Kamikaze, for a brand new truck with a driver who had spent a few years out of the sport, did a very good job by hitting the cars the wrong way, doing some donuts and overall getting the crowd excited. Maverik Monster Trakker nailed several slap wheelies, had great speed and consistently got good air, never breaking down and driving out under its own power, officially ending the bad luck streak that has plagued this driver and team for so many years here. His efforts did not go unnoticed, either, as the truck sponsored by the local Maverik convenience store franchise took the lead with a score of 28.5. A couple trucks later was Felon, who used several slap wheelies, lightning fast cyclones and big air to take the lead with a score of 35.5.
The very next truck was Wicked, and Kreg Christensen stood on the throttle most of the run, matching the former Monster Jam on SPEED announcer jump for jump and for velocity. The judges gave him a score of 34.75. The third to last truck out was Trouble Maker, who bent the champagne early in his run, but kept going for as long as he could, hitting numerous obstacles while the left front wheel was still attached. He finished his time, ensuring a score, just as the tire came off. Trouble Maker was towed out onto the grass and out of the way to make room for the remaining monsters. His score reflected his efforts, taking the lead at 35.5. Sadly, Iron Outlaw and Double Trouble received no score for failing to finish their two minute time. But Jimmy Creten and the Chris Kyle Bounty Hunter would settle for nothing less than the double victory. Huge wheelies, getting into the spin cycle and big air multiple times had the crowd roaring and the judges most impressed, giving Creten the freestyle championship to end the historic weekend at Rocky Mountain Raceways.
In other racing action, the Raceway featured Super Stock and fan favorite Pro Truck Racing, the latter similar to NASCAR’s Camping World Truck series, to compliment the monster action. Next, we at “The Allen Report” turn south towards the Tucson Speedway, where four western favorites arrive to tear up the front straightaway. More coverage coming from that event later. Well, thanks for reading, a special thank you to Dan Breach and all the Rocky Mountain Raceway staff for their generous hospitality, enjoy the photos and cheer on!