The Allen Report: Monster Jam – Phoenix, AZ 2012

(Coverage By Christopher Allen, Photos By Jim Allen)

Survival is crucial to success in monster truck racing. If you can’t keep your truck in one piece the whole night, someone else will walk onto the winner’s stage. And this year’s show at the Chase Field Monster Jam was a prime example of that. The show featured both Grave Digger and Son-Uva Digger with Carl Van Horn and Ryan Anderson driving. The “General” himself, Brian Deegan drove the Metal Mulisha for the first time in his career. Former World Finals fastest qualifier Marc McDonald brought El Toro Loco back. Linsey Weenk returned to Phoenix with the Lucas Oil Crusader. Former sprint car driver Taryn Laskey filled in for Nicole Johnson in Tasmanian Devil. The other teams were: Mitch Tulachka and Shane Phreed in Geter Done and Robo Machine. Allen Pezo and Ron Nelson drove Predator and Pouncer. Kelvin Ramer drove Time Flies and former California Kid driver Garrett Ladelle drove Detour. Rounding out the field were Mark Schroeder and Rod Wood driving the Felon and McGruff.

Grave Digger was ready to face the former Bustin’ Loose driver in Pouncer in the semi-finals when he lost oil pressure coming to the start line due to a rollover during introductions and had to be replaced by Felon, whom he had beaten the round before. Mark took advantage of the opportunity and won. In the other half of the semis with Son-Uva Digger taking on Crusader, Ryan spun out coming down the main straightaway of the so-cal style track only to get the win back when the former Canadian hit the jammer obstacle and flipped over. In the finals a broken ring and pinion in the back axle of Felon meant Predator, who had lost to him back in the opening round, had to take his place. In the final, it was neck and neck until the third member of the Anderson equation spun out again, giving Allen Pezo a huge win.

Brain Deegan set the bar early with a lead score of 20 and held the lead most of the night. El Toro Loco took the lead with only the two “Diggers” to go thanks to a score of 23. The man they call “CVH” saved his truck from another rollover, but was unable to fire back up and keep going with time still on the clock. When all was said and done, Ryan Anderson took the win by just one point, extending his perfect record of freestyle wins to five. But in true Anderson fashion, trophy or not, he came back out and unleashed his inner beast, giving the Digger-maniacs in the stands a wicked encore.

Monster Jam at Chase Field gets bigger every year this year’s show is one of the reasons why. For us at “The Allen Report”, Firebird Raceway is next on our schedule in April. Until then, thanks for reading, enjoy the great photos by Jim Allen and cheer on!

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TMB TV: Highlights – Monster X Tour – Chico, CA 2011

Event: Monster X Tour
Venue: Silver Dollar Speedway
Location: Chico, California
Date: April 8th-9th, 2011
Videographer: Colby Marshall

Lineup: California Kid (Garrett Ladelle), Fired Up (TJ Etchison), Rock Star (Bill Payne), Time Flys (Kelvin Ramer), Titan (Donald Epidendio) [Read more…]

TMB TV: Original Series Episode 4.5 – Chico, CA 2011

Event: Monster X Tour
Venue: Silver Dollar Speedway
Location: Chico, California
Date: April 8th-9th, 2011
Host: Ross Z. Bonar
Videographers: Colby Marshall, Kaedon Berry

Lineup: California Kid (Garrett Ladelle), Fired Up (TJ Etchison), Rock Star (Bill Payne), Time Flys (Kelvin Ramer), Titan (Donald Epidendio) [Read more…]

Video of the Week – 04/16/11

Week Ending: April 16th, 2011
Truck(s) Featured: Bigfoot Bad Boy #11 (Larry Swim), California Kid (Garrett Ladelle)
Video Type: Fan Video
Courtesy: www.YouTube.com

Description: A tire breaks lose from Larry Swim’s Bigfoot Bad Boy #11 during the CFP Grand Nationals in Pocatello, Idaho. While Larry would win the race against California Kid, the broken tire would put him out of competition for the night.

Monster Photos: Monster X Tour – Chico, CA 2011

Event: Monster X Tour
Venue: Silver Dollar Speedway
Location: Chico, California
Date: April 8th-9th, 2011
Photographer: Ross Z. Bonar

Lineup: California Kid (Garrett Ladelle), Fired Up (TJ Etchison), Rock Star (Bill Payne), Titan (Donald Epidendio), Time Flys (Kelvin Ramer) [Read more…]

Monster X Tour Rocks Chico’s Silver Dollar Speedway

The Monster X Tour invaded Chico, California this past weekend and TheMonsterBlog.com was on hand for all the action, the tour’s and our first outdoor event of 2011. Some of the biggest names from the West Coast would battle it out in wheelie, racing, and freestyle competitions, including the Monster Truck Mafia’s Rock Star and California Kid, this year’s breakout star Donald Epidendio in Titan and California superstars Time Flys and Fired Up.

Friday night’s action would begin with a with a 2 hit wheelie contest as each truck would hit a 6 car stack then swing around to a slap wheelie bump. It was Garrett Ladelle in California Kid setting the bar with a nice vertical wheelie and slap wheelie to start the competition. After efforts from rookie T.J. Etchison in Fired Up and Kelvin Ramer in Time Flys, Donald Epidendio would come out and raise the bar with a massive vertical sky wheelie on the car stack and though he missed a slap wheelie the first time, an impromptu hit on the van stack would provide the bounce needed for a huge slap wheelie. Finally, Bill Payne would bring his new Rock Star out for its first hit outdoors. Payne jammed the brakes before the car and matted Rock Star, ultimately sending the truck past vertical and onto its roof. Bill would wait for the truck to be flipped back over and deliver a quick freestyle to the fan’s delight, giving Rock Star the wheelie contest win.

Bill Payne in Rock Star wins the Friday wheelie contest with a wild past vertical effort and rollover.

Racing would be tricky as the Monster X Tour crew created a challenging over-under, figure 8 track. In past over-under tracks, the chances of one monster jumping over another were slim to none. This over-under was the exactly the opposite which created some exciting, but tense moments. Each truck would start at the base of each lane, putting one truck right above another much to the delight of the Chico fans. The final round would come down to teammates Garrett Ladelle in California Kid and Bill Payne in Rock Star. Payne would bobble in the final turn, handing the win to Garrett in the Kid who laid down a flawless pass. Garrett was particularly excited about the win as it came on the one year anniversary of the first time he ever drove a monster truck.

Garrett Ladelle celebrates his one year anniversary of his first time driving a monster truck by taking a big racing win.

The final competition of Friday’s show would be freestyle and all drivers let it hang out. Right out of the gate, it was California Kid getting wild and almost sending the truck end over end followed by Kelvin Ramer with some big air in Time Flys. Next out was Donald Epidendio in Titan in one of the best runs TMB has seen in quite some time. Donald launched Titan off of every obstacle, rocked some sick cyclones in the mud, and some great vertical wheelies to the roaring approval of the fans. Knowing he had to go big, Bill Payne only made it three hits into his run before a 3/8’’ bolt let go in the driveline, ending his run short and leaving the freestyle title to Epidendio in Titan.

Donald Epidendio lays down one of the better runs we've seen in a long time to give Titan the Friday night freestyle win.

The weekend finale on Saturday night started out with one of the best collective wheelie contests that TMB has seen in some time. It all came down once again to Titan and Rock Star, as Titan was again vaulted past-vertical into the 5th car of the 6 car set and drove the truck to an insane one wheeled slap wheelie. Payne once again rolled Rock Star over backward and followed up with a quick freestyle after being turned over. In a questionable call, it was Payne in Rock Star getting the win to sweep both wheelie contests on the weekend based on the rollovers and freestyles while Epidendio had the most impressive efforts.

Absolutely jaw-dropping effort from Titan as Epidendio puts it up in a one wheeled slap wheelie.

Racing would see the same two drivers continue to battle it out as Payne and Epidendio won their respective races to meet in the finals. After a close start, Epidendio would bobble in the turn and Payne would make a flawless run to take the victory.

Donald Epidendio had the edge at the start but it was Bill Payne taking the Saturday racing win.

The final competition of the weekend would be freestyle. Teammates TJ Etchison and Kelvin Ramer would both perform nice donuts and wheelies and Garrett Ladelle in California Kid would pose a formidable run before the transmission went out. Again, Donald Epidendio would pilot Titan to a high-energy and big air filled run to the roaring approval of the Chico fans, but it was Payne in Rock Star that would come out with an insane run, ultimately ending in a backwards rollover after pile driving the backside of the over-under jump.

Bill Payne in Rock Star putting together an incredible run Saturday night to win the last competition of the weekend.

A big thanks goes out to Danny Torgerson and the Monster X Tour staff for their hospitality and having the TMB crew on hand for their first outdoor show of the season! Stay tuned for a full photo gallery from TMB’s Ross Z. Bonar this week and don’t miss all the action from the weekend on TMB TV’s Original Series featuring incredible footage from Colby Marshall and Kaedon Berry. Episode 4.5 from Chico will debut on Wednesday, April 27th at 8PM eastern time with all the weekend’s monster truck competitions as well as some extras you won’t want to miss!

Video of the Week – 02/26/11

Week Ending: February 26th, 2011
Truck(s) Featured: California Kid (Garrett Ladelle)
Video Type: Fan Video
Courtesy: www.YouTube.com

Description: A massive sky wheelie from California Kid results in a big wheelie contest victory for Garrett Ladelle in Rio Rancho, New Mexico.

TMB TV: Original Series Episode 4.2 – Bakersfield, CA 2011

Event: Monster X Tour
Venue: Rabobank Arena
Location: Bakersfield, California
Date: January 21st-22nd, 2011
Host: Ross Z. Bonar
Videographers: Kaedon Berry

Lineup: Black Knight (“Hillbilly”), California Kid (Garrett Ladelle), Rock Star (Bill Payne), Summit Bigfoot 16 (Dan Runte), Titan (Donald Epidendio) [Read more…]

Monster Photos: Monster X Tour – Bakersfield, CA 2011

Event: Monster X Tour
Venue: Rabobank Arena
Location: Bakersfield, California
Date: January 21st-22nd, 2011
Photographer: Ross Z. Bonar

Lineup: Black Knight (“Hillbilly”), California Kid (Garrett Ladelle), Rock Star (Bill Payne), Summit Bigfoot #16 (Dan Runte), Titan (Donald Epidendio) [Read more…]

TMB TV: MT Unlimited Episode 2.1 – Fresno, CA 2011

Event: Monster X Tour
Venue: Selland Arena
Location: Fresno, California
Date: January 14th-15th, 2011
Host: Colby Marshall
Videographer: Colby Marshall

Lineup: Black Knight (“Hillbilly”), California Kid (Garrett Ladelle), Play’n 4 Keeps (Tony Canedo), Rock Star (Bill Payne), Summit Bigfoot #16 (Dan Runte), Titan (Donald Epidendio) [Read more…]

TMB Recap: Monster X Tour Rocks Bakersfield

The Monster X Tour rocked the Rabobank Arena this past weekend with three huge shows and TMB was on hand to capture all the action. With a star studded lineup including the always wild Godfather of the new Monster Truck Mafia, Bill Payne and Rock Star, the hard charging Donald Epidendio in Titan, and the legendary Dan Runte in Summit Bigfoot, every competition would be a tooth and nail fight to claim a victory. Friday’s racing bracket was all Donald Epidendio in Titan as he schooled former boss and teammate Bill Payne off the line in the short, straight line drag course for the win. Bill Payne in the all new Rock Star started the weekend strong, earning both the wheelie and freestyle wins with a nice wheelie and high-energy freestyle run to close out round one of Bakersfield.

Bill Payne in Rock Star was the weekend's big winner, sweeping all three wheelie and freestyle contests.

Saturday afternoon’s action began with a huge, past-vertical wheelie from Titan, but was edged out by Bill Payne in Rock Star’s walking wheelie off the car stack. Racing came down to Titan and Rock Star once again, with Epidendio earning the win on the J-style course over Payne, who made an incredible, bicycle save in the corner to keep the brand new body intact. A very strong performance by Epidendio in Titan would again be ousted by a fast paced freestyle from Bill Payne in Rock Star as he stayed perfect in Bakersfield freestyle competition.

 

Donald Epidendio in Titan was strong in every competition, narrowly losing to Rock Star time and again, but Donald did manage to take 2 out of 3 racing competitions.

Saturday evening’s wheelie contest was one of the best overall ever seen by TMB as every truck vaulted vertical. Despite a vertical wheelie and rollover from “Hillbilly” in Black Knight and a massive vertical wheelie by Titan, Bill Payne went on to sweep the weekend’s wheelie contests by catapulting Rock Star vertical and walking the truck off the car stack to the roar of the Bakersfield fans. After a strong weekend but no wins, Runte made it his mission to best the competition in racing and that he did, beating a smooth Garrett Ladelle in California Kid in the final round. To close the weekend, it was Bill Payne in Rock Star sweeping freestyle with two more incredible saves and vertical wheel stands on the beat up car sets.

The competition gave veteran Dan Runte in the beautiful new Summit Bigfoot #16 all he could handle, but he did manage to take the racing finale on Saturday night.

TMB would like to send a special thanks to Danny Torgerson and his crew with the Monster X Tour for putting on three, fantastic shows and having TMB on hand to film Episode 4.2 of the TMB TV Original Series!  Lots of great coverage is coming your way from Bakersfield including a huge photo gallery from TMB’s Ross Z. Bonar along with the aforementioned TMB TV Original Series episode premiering Wednesday, February 16th. You can the same great lineup in action from the previous weekend’s event in Fresno, California on this week’s season premiere of MT Unlimited on Wednesday night at 8PM Eastern. To find out when the Monster X Tour is coming to a city near year, visit them online at www.MonsterXTour.com!

TMB TV Episode 3.8 – Montreal, Quebec

Event:  Monster Spectacular
Venue:  Olympic Stadium
Location:  Montreal, Quebec
Date:  October 23rd, 2010
Host:  Ross Z. Bonar
Videographers:  Colby Marshall, Ross Z. Bonar

Lineup:  Aftershock (Bob Robbins), Avenger (Jim Koehler), Bad Habit (Joe Sylvester), Black Stallion (Mike Vaters), Bounty Hunter (Jimmy Creten), Brutus (Chris Bergeron), California Kid (Garrett Ladelle), Crushstation (Greg Winchenbach), Illuminator (Jay Snyder), Iron Warrior (Trey Meyers), Krazy Train (Roger Cardot), Ms. Bigfoot #11 (Amber Walker), Red Baron (Ben Winslow), Rock Star (Bill Payne) [Read more…]

Monster Truck Radio 11/08/10 – Bill Payne & Garrett Ladelle

Monster Truck Radio With Host Jeff Richards
Date: Monday, November 8th, 2010
Guest #1:  Bill Payne, driver of Rock Star
Guest #2:  Garrett Ladelle, driver of California Kid [Read more…]

Montreal Monster Spectacular – The Doug De Nance Report

(Recap By Doug De Nance) “X marks the spot! While that might be a line out of pirate legends, the legend of monster trucks in Canada, Chris Arel made a new high water mark with a monstrous X in Montreal’s Monster Spectacular show that brought out top media reporters like Ross Bonar of TheMonsterBlog.com to report first hand on this incredible event.

The X in question was in the middle of the most unique monster truck racing course ever seen on this continent. The giant floor of the Olympic Stadium was laid out in a huge dirt oval with an X made of up two distinct school bus jumps criss-crossing through the center. To top it off, the trucks would have to race this challenging course side by side.

And what a slate of trucks there were to take on this incredible track. Fourteen of the top trucks on the planet had been assembled for one night in front of 45,000 fans. Just listen to the names: Bounty Hunter, Avenger, Black Stallion, Miss Bigfoot, Bad Habit, Rock Star, Brutus, Aftershock, plus the newest star in monster trucks, the Chris Arel The Red Baron truck and many more all came with guns a blazin’ and engines roaring.

The night began with all 14 trucks pitted in a wheelie contest, hitting the car stacks on either side of the oval portion of the track. It was such rapid fire action that the Big O looked like a Saturday afternoon traffic jam at the local mall – except every vehicle was a monster truck. Like a three ring circus, there was so much air-born action it was hard to keep track as truck after truck soared vertical. Despite many incredible wheelies, Jay Snyder and Illuminator lit up the judge’s scorecards for the win with a 12 o’clock tail stand on the cars that sent him crashing to the concrete like a giant redwood under the lumberjack’s axe.

Racing was exactly what was predicted by the incredible track – wild and crazy. The tacky clay dirt caused many trucks to hook up extra hard. Bad Habit found that out the hard way in the very first round of bracket racing, tumbling the truck over and tearing the body completely off and sending Trey Myers and Iron Warrior to the quarter finals. The driver of The Red Baron was a masked mystery coming into the race, but the respect was fast coming as he made Aftershock his first kill of the night. Black Stallion had an easy time of his race as Chris Bergeron took Brutus over an unintended obstacle, one of the Super 4 racing cars that had been abandoned on the side of the track.

The wildest and craziest race of the first bracket series saw the wild man from Washington, Bill Payne and Rock Star matched up against the pretty petite Amber Walker in Miss Bigfoot. Payne had said that this was the final night for the original Rock Star truck as he is busy designing a brand new version from the ground up. That should have been the tip off to Amber Walker that Payne would do what he does the very best – destroy everything in his path. The two trucks were bumper to bumper as they launched off the start line and over the first bus stack through the center X of the track. When they came to the first turn something had to give. So Payne gave it a little extra and ran up the rear tire of Miss Bigfoot, sending Payne up onto his back wheelie bar and Amber Walker wobbling from side to side. Somehow she kept the rubber side down but stalled out. Payne managed to get Rock Star back down to earth upright and finished the lap to move on to the quarter finals.

The story of the Red Baron is the stuff of legend from World War I. But a new legacy to that legend was been written during the subsequent rounds of racing by the unknown driver of the new Red Baron truck. Former world champions like Bounty Hunter and Avenger were expected to be able to adapt to the full contact that this new track created. A racing legend like Mike Vaters in Black Stallion would have been a good bet to make to the finals, but lost out to Jimmy Creten. However, it was the Red Baron astounded all who watched the masked driver win again and again to eventually face Bounty Hunter in the final race.

From a truck perspective, it was a draw. Both trucks were Ford Expeditions with 572 cubic inch engines kicking out more than 1800 horsepower. That wasn’t a surprise since Chris Arel had commissioned Jimmy’s 2Extreme Racing Team to design the new Red Baron truck. So the wild card was unknown track record of the driver of the new truck versus the legendarycompetiveness of Jimmy Creten.

Time seemed to slow down to slow motion as the trucks took off from the starting line. Side by side they launched off the bus stack and into the first turn. The only advantage seemed to be the inside lane as it gave the Red Baron a bumper width lead. It was the thinnest of margins but they say racing is a game of inches. The Red Baron only needed an inch to defeat Bounty Hunter for the racing win.

The Red Baron driver kept the mask on to keep the mystery intact as the trucks headed into freestyle. There was even a red plane as an obstacle that looked tailor made for the racing winner. But Joe Sylvester lived up to his trucks name as the Bad Habit driver tore up everything on the track. Sylvester has set the new world record for the monster truck longest jump in September of this year, sailing the Cadillac 208 feet and besting the 202 foot record held by Bigfoot for many years. Well, Sylvester looked like he was trying to beat his own record as he flew through the air off every obstacle he could hit. While the Red Baron and trucks like Black Stallion, Bounty Hunter and Avenger all had spectacular runs; it was Bad Habit making a habit of rocking freestyle – just like he had done at the Monster Spectacular finals in June.

The mystery of the Red Baron was solved at the conclusion of freestyle as the driver wearing the Mexican wrestler mask took to the mic. The southern charm and soothing accent of Ben “Bobo” Winslow didn’t require the driver to be unmasked to be recognized. The former driver from the Sudden Impact team, who had dazzled fans on the Monster Spectacular tour during the summer, had continued to wow the crowd behind the wheel of the new Red Baron. Winslow looks to fly high in his new ride.

As is always the case with Monster Spectacular, Chris Arel treated fans to much more motorsports entertainment, ranging from autocross with Baja styled racers culminating in a champagne soaked trophy presentation to a street style Super 4 series with supped up 4 cylinder customs to a full contact tough truck battle to welcoming back Kamikaze the jet quad and Felix Famlard and his incredible sport bike freestyle team. Perhaps the biggest treat was the introduction of Arel’s newest venture with Vic Theriault, The Legends of the Fighting Arts. Many stars from the fight game, including Jean-Yves Theriault witnessed the kickoff of the program with awards going to such famous fight names as Michel Jette, JF Bergeron, Regis Levesque and Jacques Rougeau. There will be much more to come next year with Legends of the Fight Arts.

It’s always a sad moment when the crowd has left the building in Montreal in October because it means the last Monster Spectacularshow of the year is over. But the good news is that a new season of Monster Spectacular is just around the corner in 2011. Watch for the biggest monster truck show in Canada to rumble into your area soon.”

A huge thanks to Monster Spectacular Tour Announcer Doug De Nance for another great season of keeping TMB posted on all the happenings with the Monster Spectacular tour!

Monster Spectacular – Montreal, Quebec – 10/23/10

Event:  Monster Spectacular
Venue:  Olympic Stadium
Location:  Montreal, Quebec
Date:  October 23rd, 2010
Photographer: Stephanie Cotnoir

Lineup:  Aftershock (Bob Robbins), Avenger (Jim Koehler), Bad Habit (Joe Sylvester), Black Stallion (Mike Vaters), Bounty Hunter (Jimmy Creten), Brutus (Chris Bergeron), California Kid (Garrett Ladelle), Crushstation (Greg Winchenbach), Illuminator (Jay Snyder), Iron Warrior (Trey Meyers), Krazy Train (Roger Cardot), Ms. Bigfoot #11 (Amber Walker), Red Baron (Ben Winslow), Rock Star (Bill Payne) [Read more…]