The Allen Report: Rocky Mountain Raceway Maverik Clash of the Titans 2017

(Coverage By Christopher Allen, Photos By Jim Allen)

Weekend Recap

This time on “The Allen Report”, we hit the road back to Rocky Mountain Raceways in West Valley City, Utah, for the ninth consecutive year. Once again, we arrive to a stacked lineup of twelve well known monster trucks ready to do battle on the oval track’s figure-8 course, a track that has been equally tough on rising stars and experienced veterans alike.

Again this year all four members of 2Xtreme Racing came to take on each other, the competition and the track. Not surprisingly, Jimmy Creten took the controls of his trusty Bounty Hunter, complete with the original rendition of his popular and patriotic American Sniper Chris Kyle body. Dawn Creten was again at the helm of her trusty Scarlet Bandit. Mikeal Christensen came along to drive the prestigious Iron Outlaw truck. The fourth member of the equation, Knucklehead, had a different driver each of the two days, Austin Minton on Saturday and Christian Norman on Sunday.

Team Bigfoot returned to the Raceway after a year off with Larry Swim behind the wheel of Summit Bigfoot #21. But not far behind was the mysterious masked man Vinny Venom, recently crowned the 2017 Toughest Monster Truck Tour series champion, piloting Snake Bite. This version of the truck, hugely popular with the kids at the pre-show pit party, was a mixture of classic and current as the iconic “retro red” paint style remained from its 25th Anniversary tour one year ago, but the bedsides clearly showcased the sport’s recent trend of off road race truck bodies.

Back again was one of the father/daughter teams on the circuit as Darren Migues returned in his Nitro Menace truck with daughter Kaylyn in her usual Jailbird. The twins from Gig Harbor, Washington, were also back with Travis in his orange Trouble Maker and Tyler ready to put his Saturday championship from last year on the line in the sleek looking black Double Trouble. Making the trip up from Lake Havasu, AZ was past World Finals field reporter Mark Schroeder in driving Devastator. Finally, ready to defend his home state turf was Ron “the Dunk” Duncombe continuing his tenth year of driving the Maverik Monster Trakker. When a huge crowd came through the gates of the Raceway and into the pre-show pit party, it appeared that the stars had aligned for an intense, go-or-blow monster truck battle royale.

Qualifying set the pace for the rest of Saturday evening. The first three trucks in line went progressively faster than the monster that went before them until Larry Swim and Bigfoot threw down the challenge to his rivals with a time of 30.71 seconds. And Bigfoot’s old rival showed no fear when racing the clock, as Snake Bite bested Bigfoot by just a few tenths of a second. When qualifications were over, Snake Bite and Bigfoot has qualified first and second, sending them to opposite ends of the bracket.

But Vinny Venom didn’t slow down there. He had no trouble at all in the opening round and caught the Iron Outlaw in the first quarter final while Bigfoot beat Jailbird in the first round and defeated the former World Champion Bounty Hunter in the quarter finals. It wasn’t game over for the Tonganoxie, Kansas, team owner though, as Jimmy Creten had gone fast enough to return as the fastest loser. But from there, Creten’s racing luck ran out for the night as he just couldn’t catch Snake Bite in an incredibly close race. In the other semi, Bigfoot escaped the dark horse Devastator to set up another classic Bigfoot/Snake Bite championship round. But it wasn’t going to be easy as the final race was set for two laps, per tradition of the Raceway.

The final race was one to remember. Both trucks were dead even out of the gate, with Vinny Venom drifting around the turns but Larry Swim never let “the Snake” get too far ahead. In the second to last turn of the race, the masked Snake Bite driver finally pushed it too hard at the exit of the turn, the truck’s back end coming so far around the driver had to lay off the throttle. Larry’s took full advantage, slipping past his old rival in the final turn of the race and never looking back to take the Racing Championship to thunderous response from the spectators.

One year ago, RMR officials introduced the Donut Contest (billed as a “Twister” contest at the time), and its huge popularity with the crowd encourage officials to bring it back for 2017. Sadly, Bigfoot had encountered engine trouble so there would be no double win on Saturday. Additionally, Snake Bite wouldn’t get a chance to as transmission trouble kept him sidelined, too. Trouble Maker was the second truck out and went straight to an incredible height with a score of 9.6 with perfection being 10.

Scarlet Bandit stepped up to challenge the good old boys but missed the lead by a fraction of a point. But there were still several more opportunities for 2Xtreme Racing to take the Donut win. Iron Outlaw and Knucklehead both gave admirable efforts, but the team’s big boss was locked and loaded and Bounty Hunter’s lightning fast rotations, smoke rising from the tires and long spinning duration had the crowd roaring and the judges most impressed with a score of 9.85, taking the Donut Contest win.

As the second and final day of monster competition went on, it wasn’t long before the Racing comp got turned on its ear. Fastest qualifier Bigfoot easily won his first race against rising star Kaylyn Migues and Jailbird, but more mechanical gremlins kicked in and sadly kept him out for the remainder of the night. Despite being a first-timer on this track, Christian Norman quickly proved the doubters and skeptics wrong by marching straight to the finals. Scarlet Bandit showed consistency round after round, the driver’s superb efforts paying off when Dawn Creten found herself across the starting line from Knucklehead, the females in the crowd were firmly in Dawn Creten’s corner. And it must have worked because Dawn Creten took the lead early in the first of the two laps and never looked back, claiming the Racing Championship.

With a triple car stack, a large distance jump and a wheelie bump to play with and two long minutes on the clock, freestyle was certain to be a seriously competitive affair. Motivated by his early racing loss, Jimmy Creten and Bounty Hunter got huge air, put down dizzying donuts, executed several vertical wheelies and several cross threads to shoot into the lead with a score of 36.5. Truck after truck came after him, only to fall short. Only his own wife and the Racing Champion, the last driver in the order, came close at a score of 33.5, but Creten again won the freestyle competition to close the Maverik Clash of the Titans for another year.

We at “The Allen Report” are going to take some time off for now. But when we return, we will do so from Watsonville, California, the hometown of our friends at Living the Dream Racing, home of the popular Time Flys and Wild Flower monster trucks. With that, we send a huge and sincere “Thank you” to Mike Eames, Dan Breach, Ron Craft and all of the Rocky Mountain Raceways staff for giving us such great hospitality and support, thank you for reading, enjoy the photos and cheer on!

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The Allen Report: Monsters & Mud – Tuscon, AZ 2017

(Coverage By Christopher Allen, Photos By Jim Allen)

Weekend Recap

This time on “The Allen Report”, we travel to the Tucson Speedway asphalt oval track. It’s a NASCAR sanctioned home track that sees all kinds of auto racing weekend after weekend. But, on the last weekend of April, the Speedway was taken over by four massive monster trucks ready to duke it out in Wheelie Contest, Donut Contest and all out freestyle. In front of his hometown folk were Rod Wood and McGruff. Former Monster Jam on SPEED color analyst Mark Schroeder brought his wild looking Devastator to the Tucson track. Wrapping up the field and representing 2Xtreme Racing were Russell Steeley in the Iron Outlaw and Austin Minton in Knucklehead, the official monster truck of rock band Five Finger Death Punch.

In the wheelie contest, the slick paved third mile oval made wheelies tricky. Iron Outlaw made admirable efforts, spinning the tires trying to bring the front axle in the air. But Mark Schroeder did an excellent job of pointing his front tires towards the night sky. He easily won over the crowd and as the show was judged by the audience’s applause, took the Wheelie Contest win.

Going into the donut competition, McGruff had sadly broken the locker in the front axle and his performance status for the rest of the night was in danger. Devastator proved that he can do more than just ride a wheelie by turning in fast rotation to stay in the hunt. Russell Steeley proved that he still had what it takes by turning in super fast cyclones to stay alive. But newcomer Austin Minton had the crowd roaring by getting Knucklehead progressively faster and faster in his spin cycles, taking the win and ending Devastator’s chances at an evening’s clean sweep.

The freestyle track consisted of four crush cars, a construction barrier for wheelies and two jumps, one at the turn four end, the other and the turn one end. In the main event of the night, Iron Outlaw got things kicked off very well by hitting the van stack jump just past the start finish line, clearing the cars, inadvertently turning slightly mid wheelie and hit the van stack the wrong way to much applause from the spectators. McGruff was fixed just in time for the freestyle competition and put down a great run, causing a shower of sparks as he dragged his bumper across the front straightaway during one of his slap wheelies. Knucklehead was next on the track and gave the fans jumps, donuts and high speed energy. The final freestyle was Devastator and when Mark Schroeder was through there was no doubt who was the freestyle winner as the crowd cheered long and loud for his impressive performance. However, as far as the drivers were concerned, the fans were the winners on this clear and col night in Tucson.

While the monsters were resting or getting maintenance in the pits, the fans were treated to mud bogging in the infield and several kinds of mainstream car racing on the oval. Most of the races, both heats and features, were fast and entertaining with multiple attempts to take the lead and not many cautions.

Well, next on the agenda for us at “The Allen Report” is a trek to the Stanislaus County Fairgrounds in Turlock, CA, where our friends at WGAS Motorsports have a traditionally great show waiting for us with ATV racing, tuff trucks, Fitz Army freestyle motocross and, of course, monster trucks. On that note, thanks for reading, a sincere thank you to Dave the Track Guy and Tucson Speedway for their great hospitality, enjoy the photos and cheer on!

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The Allen Report: Maricopa County Fair Monster Trucks – Phoenix, AZ 2017

(Coverage By Christopher Allen, Photos By Jim Allen)

Weekend Recap

This time on “The Allen Report”, we make a short trip to the Maricopa County Fair in Phoenix, AZ. It sees all sorts of spectator entertainment over its five days every spring from farm animal auctions to BMX stunt shows and at the Sanderson Ford Arena on Friday and Saturday, the entertainment was supplied by six earth shattering, car smashing monster trucks.

Making the trip from Menifee, CA, were the father/son duo of Rick and Eric Swanson. Rick’s Obsession truck was sporting its brand new Top Notch Tee’s vinyl wrap. Also, Eric’s truck Obsessed showcased a classic 1968 Ford pickup body. The two were hot off their impressive performance from the Monster Jam Double Down Showdown in March. Coming from just down the road in Tucson was Sam Sturges behind the wheel of Unnamed & Untamed. This truck/driver combination was followed by his team mate in the bright red 1963 Split Window Corvette Rat Attack driven by Jacob Ladwig. Hailing from Marana, AZ, came Rod Wood and McGruff the Crime Dog. Finally, coming east from Lake Havasu City, AZ, was Mark Schroeder taking control of Devastator.

The opening show on Friday had Chicago style racing with right hand turns as opposed to the traditional left turns and freestyle. In the opening round of racing, Rat Attack pulled an upset win over Obsessed to advance to the semi-finals. The next race was Devastator vs. Obsession. Even though Devastator won the race, Obsession would still advance as the fastest loser. The championship round was a classic California vs. Arizona civil war between Obsession and Devastator. It was close and a great race, but Devastator took the racing win.

In freestyle, there were multiple construction barriers for wheelies, the race lane jumps and a massive hill at one end of the arena floor. Sadly, Obsessed had broken a steering hose and was out for the night. Unnamed & Untamed attacked the big hill going the other way and made decent attempts at wheelies to get the crowd excited. Rat Attack struggled to achieve wheelstands, but compensated with some terrific cyclones. Finally, Devastator performed great wheelstands again and again to close out the Friday night show.

Over the course of two shows the next day, there were many highlights. Devastator’s chances at a clean sweep were dashed when Sam Sturges beat him in the finals of Chicago style racing. In freestyle, Obsession put together great combos to stay in the hunt. Unnamed & Untamed performed the team’s signature move, slap wheelies. In the all freestyle final show, every truck went all out, taking advantage of its last shot to please the fans. Several trucks jumped the barricades into the arena to start their runs off on a high note. McGruff finished his run with some lightning fast cyclones that had the audience cheering long and loud. But the high point of the weekend for the monsters was the double freestyle with the father and son Swanson. Eric got the best air of the freestyle competition when his father fired up and joined him on the track. The crowd’s roar of approval clearly signified the Swanson boys as the winners.

In other motor race action throughout the weekend, there was smash ‘n bash Democross, a staple of promoter Grand Canyon State Promotions, which is a fascinating mix of off road racing and demolition derby. It is very entertaining with a lot of action. During the evening show on Saturday, there was death defying, trick busting freestyle motocross which had the fans screaming on and on.

Well, we at “The Allen Report” look north towards a massive ten truck field at the Washington State Fair in Puyallup, WA, put together by our friends at WGAS Motorsports. So, thanks for reading, a special thanks to Zack McKinley and all of the GCS Promotions people for having us, enjoy the photos and cheer on!

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The Allen Report: Monster Flip Fest – Pomona, CA 2014

(Coverage By Christopher Allen, Photos By Jim Allen)

Weekend Recap

This time on “The Allen Report”, we headed to the Fairplex in Pomona, California for the Los Angeles County Fair opening “Flip Fest”. Mark Schroeder arrived to pilot Devastator. For fans of Mark’s Felon, I’m happy to report that he’s bringing it back for first quarter next year. Also in the house was Marana, Arizona’s own Rod Wood driving McGruff. The father and daughter team of Kelvin and Rosalee Ramer came to town with Time Flys and Wild Flower. The incredibly talented seventeen year old was extremely popular with the audience. Crowd favorite Jimmy Creten stepped out of his usual Bounty Hunter and into Iron Outlaw, built especially for a huge, never before seen stunt to round out the night. Finally, making its world performance debut was the Knucklehead monster truck driven by rock band Five Finger Death Punch lead guitarist Zoltan Bathory.

To start the night’s insanity, Jim Fitzpatrick of the famous Metal Mulisha lead the charge in sky high, high danger freestyle motocross. When the initial competition ended in a two way tie, “Taco” Bell and Fitzpatrick were given one more jump each to win the crowd over. A huge Backflip Superman gave Fitzpatrick another mark in the win column.

In monster truck freestyle, vertical wheelies and good momentum put McGruff the Crime Dog in the lead early. Zoltan Bathory, despite having driven Knucklehead only once before, put the crowd on its feet with an exciting run. Rosalee Ramer got the fans pumped up with the biggest air of the night to this point followed by a rollover. The Devastator had some wheelies of his own, a big jump and even better speed to give him tens across the board from the judges. Living up to the event’s name, the epic finale showcased Time Flys and Iron Outlaw backflipping in unison just moments after a pair of FMX riders did the same right between them. The ensuing cheers from the capacity crowd were long and loud!

With another great show from WGAS Motorsports in the books, we at “The Allen Report” shall very soon jump on a plane bound for Indianapolis to attend the final and biggest 4 Wheel Jamboree of the season. Well, thank you for reading, a sincere thank you to our friend John Borba and the WGAS crew for their gracious hospitality, enjoy the photos and cheer on!

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Monster Photos: Monster Jam – Phoenix, AZ 2014

Event Information

Event: Monster Jam
Venue: Chase Field
Location: Phoenix, Arizona
Date: January 25th, 2014
Photographer: Jim Allen

Truck Lineup

Bad Habit (Joe Sylvester), Blue Thunder (Dan Evans), Bounty Hunter (Jimmy Creten), Captain USA (Travis Groth), Devastator (Mark Schroeder), Double Trouble (Tyler Groth), El Toro Loco (Lupe Soza), Geter Done (Mitch Tulachka), Grave Digger (Carl Van Horn), Madusa (Debra Miceli), McGruff (Rod Wood), Metal Mulisha (Todd Leduc), New Earth Authority (Norm Miller), The Patriot (Dan Rodoni), RoboMachine (Shane Phreed), Tropical Thunder (Andrew Peckham) [Read more…]

The Allen Report: Monster Jam – Phoenix, AZ 2013

(Coverage By Christopher Allen, Photos By Jim Allen)

Weekend Recap

This time on “The Allen Report”, the biggest field in the history of Monster Jam in the “Valley of the Sun” played their game to a sold-out crowd at Chase Field. The field of 16: Charlie Pauken represented Team Grave Digger. Familiar faces Batman with Norm Miller at the helm and Devastator driven by Mark Schroeder were also in the house. West Coaster Daron Basl drove King Krunch while sharing the seat of team truck Nitro Hornet with former Bigfoot and FELD driver Sky Hartley. Rookie Shane England rounded out the camp in Big Kahuna. Todd Leduc was back driving Metal Mulisha. Scott Buetow came piloting Team Hot Wheels Firestorm. Steven Hill took the wheel of Ground Pounder. Right behind him in the teammate Amsoil Shock Therapy was Dave Radzierez. Damon Bradshaw was present in Monster Energy. Hometown driver Rod Wood was there as always in McGruff. Mitch Tulachka and Shane Phreed returned in Jus’ Geter Done and Robo Machine. Pat Gerber and Shocker appeared and rounding out the field was first year driver J.P. Ruggiero in El Diablo.

From the first green light of the So-Cal style of racing, the monster from the Mulisha compound and the black and green wrecking machine were on a collision course with each other. Just four-tenths of a second separated them in qualifications. From there, the two bulldozed down the opposition. However, as Grave Digger came back to the pits after defeating Monster Energy in the semi-finals, there was smoke pouring from GD’s motor area. Unable to get fixed in time, Monster Energy took Digger’s place at the starting line where Metal Mulisha was there waiting. Halfway home at the “jammer” obstacle, Todd, a former short course off road racer, drifted a little too far out. From there, the win was Monster Energy’s. But the night’s action was far from over.

Nitro Hornet stung the field early with a score of 23. The Oregon native would remain the “hot seat” for a large part of the night. Then came the truck conceived by “the General” Brian Deegan and the other straight from the top secret Hot Wheels test facility. They both scored a 27 with the “coolest” monster truck around having a hair-thin edge of a single bonus point. Then on came the “Bad to the Bone” music. With the crowd roaring and the engine running on only seven cylinders, the 2010 Freestyle World Champion nailed huge air and had incredible speed followed by dizzying three-wheeled cyclones to take the winning score of 31, twenty-seven in regulation and no less than four bonus points for the win.

In other action, Team USA defeated Team Mexico in fast and furious quad war action. In addition, Tom Cunningham won the “off road truck-cross” main. From here, we at “The Allen Report” head out to Firebird Raceway for the last ever two day monster truck marathon on the merciless drag strip in Chandler, AZ. Till then, thank you for reading, enjoy the photos and cheer on!

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