The Allen Report: All Star Monster Truck Tour – Phoenix, AZ 2017 Part 2

(Coverage By Christopher Allen, Photos By Jim Allen)

Weekend Recap

This time on “The Allen Report”, we return to the Arizona State Fairgrounds, where just two weeks earlier a thrill show co-starring a flame throwing jet car and the kid captivating Transaurus took place alongside the monster trucks. All Star Motorsport Productions, promoter of the thrill shows, also came back for this weekend. But unlike the events of earlier in October, this was a tried and true, full on monster truck show with six five ton, high horsepower mechanical beasts having the spotlight all to themselves on the fair’s final weekend for the year.

Throughout each show, the monsters would participate in Best Trick competition, single run obstacle course racing against the clock and no time limit, no holding back freestyle. Points were on the line for each competition and the truck with the highest number of points at the end of the show would be crowned the Overall Event Champion. As the weekend would go by, result trackers would count the number of Overall wins per monster with the competitor who had obtained the most Overall wins receiving the distinction of Arizona State Fair Champion.

Representing the home state was Marana’s El Perro Loco (translation – The Crazy Dog) with Murph McCrorey behind the wheel. Murph is the stepson of team owner Rod Wood and his tendency to drive like a madman in night shows garnered him the nickname “Werewolf”, a moniker he would live up to equally under the sun and after dark over the days this weekend. To make the truck sound as different as possible from McGruff two weeks earlier, the event announcers billed the truck from Ensenada, Baja, Mexico and had spent years dominating the Mexican circuit before crossing into the USA.

The rest of the field consisted of the entire Straight Up Racing team. Team co-founder and leader Bill Payne took the wheel of his trusty Rock Star. Gabe Montoya was ready to attack the track as the pilot of Reverse Racer, where the body is turned around one hundred and eighty degrees to make it look like the truck is always going the wrong way. Next in line was the vicious looking 10,000 Pound Hound to be driven by Nick Jones. Not far behind was Ezra Wilson in the Identity Theft. The fifth and final truck in the stable was the monster hot rod California Kid, controlled by Dallas Glen Rogers.

In the first of three shows on Saturday, Identity Theft got the show off to a splendid start with a one-two punch of great air and a sweet sky wheelie to get a score of 14 of a possible 20 for Best Trick. When El Perro Loco fell short by just one single point despite sick air and a great sky wheelie, the crowd openly voiced their disappointment. But next out was Bill Payne, who has performed as far away as Europe and Asia in years past. Bill followed up a great sky wheelie off the crush car with a wicked slap wheelie from one end of the floor to the other, taking the Best Trick win and Overall points lead.

Identity Theft set the standard for those coming after by completing the course in just under 23 seconds. The very next pass by 10K Pound Hound proved how tough the competition was by edging out his predecessor in the order by less than one tenth of a second. The colossal canine monster held the lead until Rock Star stormed past him on the stopwatch, reaching the finish line a whole two seconds faster with only freestyle to go.

The freestyle track consisted of a jammer stack for air, a wheelie bump and the time trial finish line crush car for wheelies and the obstacle course track second straightaway offering a distance jump ramp on one side and sideways tires for wheelies on the other. Identity Theft took advantage of his final shot for a trophy to get huge air and cross threaded the jump used as the obstacle course halfway point to stay in the hunt. Ten Thousand Pound Hound gave admirable efforts, including decent air. But Rock Star gave more incredible slap wheelies and hit the kicker obstacle the wrong way to get the early afternoon Overall Championship.

As the weekend progressed, the competition got tighter and tighter across the board. The second obstacle course competition of the day was decided by only half a second between winner Rock Star and runner-up Identity Theft. A few hours later in the evening show obstacle course race, Bill Payne finally pushed his truck too hard, breaking a steering line in the final turn of the course, causing his truck to do a complete 360 and rendering him unable to cross the finish line. This DNF would go on to end Rock Star’s perfect streak of Overall Titles, the final Saturday win eventually going to Identity Theft.

In the second to last show of the weekend, El Perro Loco was in the midst of a high intensity freestyle when an awkward landing from a sky wheelie sent him into the only rollover of the weekend. Murph was okay and the crowd roared when it was announced that El Perro had taken the freestyle lead. This, on top of a Best Trick win and runner-up placing in the obstacle course was enough for Murph and The Crazy Dog to finally take an Overall Championship.

In the last Obstacle Course contest of the weekend, Identity Theft just narrowly slipped past Rock Star with less than half a second being the difference. To end the weekend on a high note, Rock Star joined Identity Theft not long into the latter’s freestyle, causing All Star Productions officials to decree the two co-champions. This brought the crowd’s noise level very high, marking the ideal end to both the 2017 Arizona State Fair and the last weekend of monster trucks. Even so, with three sole titles and one shared win across a total of six shows over three days, Rock Star handily took the Arizona State Fair Championship.

At that, the monster truck action season for us at “The Allen Report” has come to a close. But we also begin to finalize plans for our trip to Auburn, Indiana, for one of our favorite annual events, the International Monster Truck Hall of Fame Ceremony. As of this writing, the number of overall display monster vehicles, weekend and full time sponsors and returning past inductees all look high, which is great news for us, as we are just as much fans of the early days of the sport as we are fans of its current state. With that behind us, a special thanks to Bryan Wagner and every member of All Star Productions for allowing us to cover his events, thank you, our readers, for following our show coverage, enjoy the photos and until next year, cheer on!

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The Allen Report: All Star Monster Truck Tour – Phoenix, AZ 2017

(Coverage By Christopher Allen, Photos By Jim Allen)

Weekend Recap

This time on “The Allen Report”, we return to one of our hometown venues, the Arizona State Fairgrounds. Bryan Wagner and his company All Star Productions have put together stadium motorsports events here several times before, but this show was different. Billed as a “thrill show”, three earth shaking monsters would be paired with plenty of great motorsports action. The main event of each show, monster truck single run freestyle, would be decided by fan applause, so every move would count. When a huge crowd piled in for every show, it truly was all or nothing for the drivers.

Representing the home state was McGruff. In the opening performance on Friday night, Rod Wood was the man behind the monster for the first time since shoulder surgery sidelined him a few months ago. Step-son Murph “Werewolf” McCrorey would take the wheel for the remaining shows throughout the weekend. Proudly performing for the Navajo Nation was second generation driver Derek Edd piloting the Fanatic. This truck is a southwestern monster finally coming back to this venue after an extended retirement. Finally, former World Champion Jimmy Creten arrived in Bounty Hunter. With each show featuring a single round of freestyle decided by crowd applause, every last move would count.

All shows got off to a roaring start as the monsters turned in a donut or a few during introductions, wasting no time in hyping up the crowd. In the only show on Friday night, Rod Wood looked like his old self with big air and excellent sky wheelies. Derek Edd fought steering issues, a problem that would plague him on and off throughout the weekend, but still gave the fans a nice performance. But Jimmy Creten wasn’t fazed by the show count in front of him, sending Bounty Hunter high into the night sky and digging up the dirt with his back bumper in beautiful wheelies. When the fate of the first championship of the weekend was on the line, there was no question about it when it came to crowd noise. Bounty Hunter took the first title no bones about it.

The monster action wasn’t over after freestyle, however, as the grand finale showcased all monsters returning to the track at once in a “monster train”, each five ton machine following each other over the obstacles before facing the grandstand to bring the curtain down on another great show.

Over the weekend, all drivers pushed their machines to the limit. Derek Edd and Fanatic turned the steering malfunctions in his favor, often upping the crowd noise with long and cheer-inducing donuts. Murph McCrorey seized every chance he got to bring the front tires in the air, succeeding more often than not. But Jimmy Creten refused to hold back, going progressively harder and harder each show.

Then, on the last show of the weekend Sunday evening, Derek Edd threw caution to the wind, executing a spectacular save and continuing to push his truck over the obstacles, smoke billowing from the engine, until it finally gave out. Still, Derek had done more than enough to earn thunderous applause from the spectators. Then, in the last run, Jimmy Creten finally pushed Bounty Hunter too hard as the truck broke a front and a rear axle, but the former World Champion still soldiered on, refusing to let the truck quit before he was satisfied. With the weekend sweep on the line, the crowd was suddenly the most divided it had been all weekend, so a second and final cheer off was decided upon. And the decision went to Fanatic, ending Bounty Hunter’s perfect win streak.

While the monsters were getting maintenance between runs, the crowd was treated to some fiery and noisy fun courtesy of a jet powered Smart Car, the audience often literally feeling the heat as the car belched flames from its afterburner. Finally, young and old alike were fascinated by the car eating, fire breathing antics of the half tank, half dinosaur known as Transaurus. Even when he’d had his fill for each show, the mechanical beast stopped by the grandstand to wave his metallic claws at the fans before departing.

With that behind us, we at “The Allen Report” set our sights on our final shows of the year, same venue and same town. But this show will be a full-on, true to the bone monster truck show where it’s all up to one single local favorite to fend off an entire multi-truck team. Well then, thanks for reading, a special thanks to Bryan Wagner and the entire All Star Productions team for granting us admittance to the shows and wonderful hospitality, 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: All Star Monster Truck Tour – Phoenix, AZ 2013

(Coverage By Christopher Allen, Photos By Jim Allen)

Weekend Recap

This time on “The Allen Report”, we look back to the end of last year, when a familiar sight returned to the Arizona State Fairgrounds with an interesting twist. Six monster trucks arrived over the first weekend of November. However, both halves of the field would be split into different shows over the weekend. Six shows happened over the three days. Every win was rewarded with points. Shows number one, three and five starred Rod Wood in El Perro Loco, Nasty Boy piloted by Travis Sturges and team owner Sam Sturges back in Unnamed and Untamed. All the other performances showcased Jimmy Lyons in Firedrill, Dawn Creten in control of Iron Outlaw and Darren Migues behind the wheel of Bounty Hunter.

In the first group of shows, Rod Wood had increasingly higher competition. He started his weekend with a clean sweep of wheelie contest, S-track obstacle course racing and freestyle on Friday. His opponents started to catch up when Nasty Boy got a win in wheelies, only to have his right front tire snap off upon landing. Undeterred by the snap of his streak, Rod just started another, winning both obstacle course and freestyle to maintain his lead. But when Sunday arrived, Nasty Boy shed off the pit rust quickly, winning both of the first two competitions before the Crazy Dog finally got his groove back with a 27 point win in freestyle.

Over in the other group, Bounty Hunter continued the game of “anything you can do, I can do” by duplicating Rod Wood’s clean sweep in his group’s first show. That evening, Darren started to do the same with a win in wheelies. But in obstacle course, Bounty Hunter suddenly shut off with the finish line just ahead, giving the win to Iron Outlaw. Darren Migues had everyone on notice in freestyle with an exciting run. But he could only tie with Dawn Creten. In the weekend’s final show, Jimmy Lyons finally found his winning wheelies, even with only rear wheel drive. But Darren Migues won in obstacle course and laid it all out in his final freestyle.

When all the points were tallied up, Rod Wood and El Perro Loco were declared the Arizona State Fair Overall Champions. The weekend also featured some thrilling “tuff truck” action and rides for all with the Boogie Monster.

For us at “the Allen Report”, next up caught a plane to northern Indiana to watch five legends of the monster truck sport receive induction into the International Monster Truck Hall of Fame. You’ll see that next week as we catch up on action from the end of 2013, thank you for reading, a grateful thank-you to All-Star Monster Trucks for hosting these great events, enjoy the photos and cheer on!

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All content copyright 2013.