Blast From The Past: Minneapolis, MN 1988

Hello Monster Bloggers!   Welcome to the very first edition of the “Blast from the Past” feature article. I, TMB Videographer Colby Marshall, will be reviewing classic and not-so-classic shows from the glory days of monster truck competition. I’ll be doing this in a light-hearted, playfully sarcastic manner so don’t take offense, and let’s all sit back, have a few laughs and remember the way things used to be. Quite often in this article series, I plan on reviewing the lesser-known and lesser-celebrated events – why, you ask?  More material!

The first event I am going to cover is no exception. Welcome to the fantastipotomus (cough cough) that was the Minneapolis USHRA event in 1988! (YouTube would be a good place to look if you want to follow along) In addition to the monster trucks, this event featured pulling and mud racing. This being THE MONSTER BLOG, I will only be focusing on the monsters. As I start watching…oh no…no…it can’t be! LARRY HUFFMAN AND MARGO KING CALLING THE ACTION?!? For the love of all that is sacred, this is gonna be interesting.

We are immediately reminded that the winner of this particular event will be facing the Virginia Beach Beast in some kind of existential battle of good and evil…or something. My first thought is that the year before called and said, “You know, guys. We tried this. A LOT! And it really wasn’t that exciting.” Yet, here we are quite a bit past this “attraction” running its course. Margo and Larry play this up as one of the very first times this has happened (if you ignore the 745 other times before) and that it is some kind of major challenge. Whatever. On to the first race.

Oh, look, its Heartbeat. Wait a minute. It has a different driver. Who is the “Brent” Engleman guy? Must be Brett’s cousin. Kinda looks like Brett, so it must simply be a case of family resemblance, because USHRA broadcasts in the 1980’s would NEVER misspell a name, would they? He is lining up against Fred “Don’t call me Bob Chandler” Shafer in the 1988 Chevy-bodied Bearfoot. They will race down the pulling track, make an outside turn and hit six cars. The finish line is about thirty feet past the cars.

It always seemed weird to me that in a huge dome stadium, they would use a track that would fit in some hockey arenas. Was minimalist art in vogue in 1988? Maybe Ken Donat was considering a monastic lifestyle or something. Speaking of Ken Donat, he waves a flag and runs for his life. Fred jumps out to a gigantic lead as they make the turn. A bunch of awkward camera cuts later, and your winner is…Brent Engleman?!? How the heck did that happen? I wish I could tell you, but the production work was AWFUL for this first run. Even the Brett Engleman look-alike has no clue who won. He looks all confused until someone standing at trackside decides its time to tell him he was the victor. Brent pumps his fist in a glory not seen since Tiger Woods…oh nevermind. Heartbeat moves on.

The little pony that could, Black Stallion, is out next. Mr. Vaters will be taking on Jeff Bainter in Hot Stuff. Its for sale as I type this. Not much to report here. Hot Stuff wins by ten seconds on a twenty second course. You know, this young Vaters kid might turn into something some day. But this ain’t that day.

All hail the beauty that is Samson 1. My goodness, what an absolutely stunning vehicle! Don Maples as usual. Suddenly, a bird goes rocketing across the floor, and two stones are dead. This can mean only one thing. Bigfoot 4 levitates into place on the line, this time taking Rich Hooser along for the nirvana-like experience. Of course, this was two years before MC Hammer learned the hard way that 4, in fact, can touch this. No doubt in this one as Foot 4 completes the course 14 times before Samson 1 hits the turn. Bigfoot 4 moves on, but not before building a snowman out of rain.

Kodiak and Mark Bendler stroll to the starting blocks next to take on another of the most amazing looking vehicles ever built. Its pulling icon Diehl Wilson and Virginia Giant. Run, Donat, RUN! Wilson grabs a three-truck lead, but struggles with the turn. Kodiak makes up most of the ground, but not enough. This was a good race, but Virginia Giant moves on. Maybe there is something weird about that left-side turn. Might explain what happened to Fred, but we will never know because the director was having a seizure of some kind during that first race.

Sound the trumpets! Its time for round number two of the Monster trucks! Brent Engleman pulls back up to the line in the stolen Heartbeat truck. He lines up against the world’s largest jeep, Hot Stuff. The Ken Donat self-preservation run of doom signals the beginning of this contest. They are even, but Hot Stuff grabs a slight lead just before the turn. Brent proves that he is more talented than his identical twin cousin Brett by mastering the horrid left lane turn and retakes the lead. Both trucks race towards the cars in what is turning into a fantastic race. Its close! OH &%#$!!! Hot Stuff breaks pretty much everything in the front end! That looks expensive. We are told that Heartbeat won at the line, and while we don’t see it, I am sure that another fist pump of satisfaction was had. In a related story, I turn on the VOICE BASSIFIER AND REVERBERATOR 9000 to announce that it is time for…


“Where is Big Tow when you need him?”

and that was your MARGO KINGISM OF THE NIGHT! Back to the races.

Virginia Giant struts its blinged out self to the line as Foot 4 teleports itself from the pits to the starting box. Donat runs for his life again and the competition commences. Diehl Wilson leads at the turn as Bigfoot 4 takes time out to solve that pesky scientific issue about cold nuclear fusion. Virginia Giant spins on the ball bearing-covered teflon ice that is the floor of the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome. Bigfoot 4 wins, but you already knew that.

We come back from a long-forgotten commercial for the final round, but not before a special bonus MARGO KINGISM OF THE NIGHT!

“Now, there aren’t many things that intimidate Monster Trucks, but Monster Tanks do!”

A two for one deal on THE MARGO KINGISM OF THE NIGHT, and now you all owe me.

Bigfoot 4 remains in the pits, but wishes a second version of itself into existence for the final round race against the man of 1000 faces, Brent “I am fairly certain that is a typo” Engleman. Foot 4 takes a lead going into the turn, but spins out so that it can set an ant on fire with a magnifying glass. Indoors. This leaves things wide open for Brent, who inexplicably stops to take a phone call from cousin Brett’s lawyer. 4 slams a revolving door and calmly finishes the course for the easy win. The crack production team misses the Bigfoot celebration donut while holding on a shot of the far lane cars while waiting for Heartbeat to finally hit them. YAY for lack of desire!

And now it is time for the most epic battle since the Austria-Ottoman Wars of 1529 (thank you, Google) as Bigfoot 4 takes on the Virginia Beach Beast. Aaaaaannnnnd Foot 4 wins by three truck lengths. The left front tire of 4 comes off the ground 10 inches, thus saving a small puppy that wandered onto the track. This doesn’t stop Larry Huffman from screaming that the truck “ALMOST GOES OVER!!!” Right, Larry.

We will be right back with the driver…I’ll be watching Alf.

Fun event that was typical of USHRA at the time. Seemed like they were in a rut of doing as little as possible in track design. It is still more interesting to me that straight line track #496 of the season over in that other tour.

That’s all, folks! I hope you had as much fun reading this as I did writing it. Until next time…OLD SCHOOL RULES!

TMB TV: ActionTracks Episode 1.7 – Auburn, IN

Event: 4×4 Off Road Truck Show Challenge
Venue:  American Heritage Village
Location:  Auburn, Indiana
Date:  October 16th, 2010
Host:  Chris Parrish
Videographer:  Chris Parrish

Lineup: Iron Reaper Tank (Rick Romanini), Live Wire (Rick Romanini), Nitecrawler Tank (Andy Hoffman), Predator (Allen Pezo), Shotgun Harry (Jeff Cook), Uncle Slam (Rick Romanini) [Read more…]

Wow Moments: The Silverdome Lives

The 2010 season marked the return for one of the most prestigious venues in the history of monster trucks: The Pontiac Silverdome. TMB was fortunate enough to be part of both the inaugural event (Domination in the Dome) and this November’s “Monster Truck Fall Shootout”. Between the two shows, names including Bigfoot, Excaliber, and Virginia Giant made their return to the hallowed building to once again do battle.  Other story lines, including the return of Eric Tack to pilot Bigfoot 11 for the show and the rebirth of the “Michigan Ice Monster” added nostalgic flavor and got my wheels turning as to how the legacy of the Silverdome could be further amplified.

The Pontiac Silverdome 11/13/10

Would a promoter in today’s monster truck world be able to successfully market an old-school style monster truck show in the Silverdome, including a full on truck and tractor pull and mud bog, alongside a full on “Battle of the Monster Trucks” between some of the old school trucks that are being plucked from fence rows and revived today? Would the average fan in Detroit who is used to the fast paced and high flying nature of today’s monsters be interested in paying to attend a show that showcases the roots of monster trucks?  After seeing the immense success of Jeff Cook’s 4×4 Off Road Truck Show Challenge in Auburn, Indiana this past October, I think the answer is yes. What do you think? If you were given the opportunity to promote a show in the legendary Pontiac Silverdome, what style event would you promote and why?

TMB TV: MT Unlimited Episode 1.4 – Auburn, IN

Event: 4×4 Off Road Truck Show Challenge
Venue:  American Heritage Village
Location:  Auburn, Indiana
Date:  October 16, 2010
Host:  Colby Marshall
Videographer:  Colby Marshall

Lineup:  Iron Reaper Tank (Rick Romanini), Live Wire (Rick Romanini), Nitecrawler Tank (Andy Hoffman), Predator (Allen Pezo), Shotgun Harry (Jeff Cook), Uncle Slam (Rick Romanini) [Read more…]

4×4 Off Road Truck Show Challenge – Auburn, IN – 10/16/10

Event:  4×4 Off Road Truck Show Challenge
Venue:  American Heritage Village
Location:  Auburn, Indiana
Date:  October 16th, 2010
Photographer:  Laura Parrish

Lineup: Iron Reaper Tank (Rick Romanini), Live Wire (Rick Romanini), Nitecrawler Tank (Andy Hoffman), Predator (Allen Pezo), Shotgun Harry (Jeff Cook), Uncle Slam (Rick Romanini) [Read more…]

4×4 Off Road Truck Show Challenge – Auburn, IN – 10/16/10

Event:  4×4 Off Road Truck Show Challenge
Venue:  American Heritage Village
Location:  Auburn, Indiana
Date:  October 16th, 2010
Photographer:  Paul M. Harry

Lineup:  Iron Reaper Tank (Rick Romanini), Live Wire (Rick Romanini), Nitecrawler Tank (Andy Hoffman), Predator (Allen Pezo), Shotgun Harry (Jeff Cook), Uncle Slam (Rick Romanini) [Read more…]

4×4 Off Road Truck Show Challenge – Auburn, IN – 10/16/10

Event: 4×4 Off Road Truck Show Challenge
Venue: American Heritage Village
Location: Auburn, Indiana
Date: October 16th, 2010
Photographer: Michael Harry

Lineup: Iron Reaper Tank (Rick Romanini), Live Wire (Rick Romanini), Nitecrawler Tank (Andy Hoffman), Predator (Allen Pezo), Shotgun Harry (Jeff Cook), Uncle Slam (Rick Romanini) [Read more…]

Inaugural 4×4 Off Road Truck Show Challenge A Huge Success

The first ever Gas Guzzy 4×4 Off Road Truck Show Challenge was held to the delight of a massive crowd at the American Heritage Village in Auburn, Indiana. This event was the first of its kind as it celebrated the early history of monster trucks with nostalgia style car crushing, monster tank machines and even monster trucks floating across a 12 acre pond. In addition, a huge turnout of mud bog and obstacle course competitors were on hand to keep the action going all day long, along with a great assembly of beautiful show’n’shine machines.

The stars of the event were the “old school” monsters as monster truck veteran Allen Pezo brought out his newly restored original Predator truck, event organizer Jeff Cook had the newly completed nostalgia truck Shotgun Harry on hand and Andy Hoffman from just down the road in Huntington showed up with his Nitecrawler tank. Rick Romanini out of Michigan was a huge part of the event, showing up with a collection of old school machines including the original Duraliner Giant, now called Uncle Slam; the original Polar Bear which had been named Live Wire; the original Star Trax Tank now called the Iron Reaper; and the only mud truck that managed to defeat the deep bog all day, Johnny Law.

The nostalgia car crushing was incredibly popular with the fans, the monster tanks got them on their feet and cheering as Andy Hoffman blasted the mud bog in Nitecrawler and the highlight of the day was the 12 acre pond float where Predator, Shotgun Harry and and an old school style Chevrolet driven by Jeremy Hosmin all successfully floated from one end of the pond to the other.

The event was a blast from the past and the fans on hand were delighted by seeing how monster trucks got started – for some, it was reliving moments they had seen in person many years before and for others who were too young to remember or even not yet born, it was a chance to experience the glory days of monster trucks. Everyone walked away already anticipating the next event as it is sure that there will be other monster truck people dusting off old chassis and beginning to restore them just so they can be a part of the fun next year.

This Inaugural 4×4 Off Road Truck Show Challenge was an important test for promoter Jeff Cook and his Gas Guzzy Events & Marketing as after its huge success, now they can begin to slowly expand the concept and hope to bring a taste of nostalgia monster truckin’ to fans in more places each year. staff was out in force for the event as Ross Z. Bonar co-hosted the event with Jeff Perrin of Perrin Motorsports while Colby Marshall, Kaedon Berry and Chris Parrish filmed for episodes of TMB TV’s MT Unlimited and ActionTracks. Superphotographer Paul M. Harry captured all the action for a huge photo gallery. It was great to have nearly all of the TMB staff in one place again this year and it was a reminder of how lucky we are to have not only a very talented group but more importantly, a great group of people in our little family.

Stay tuned for coverage from this great event here on the site and on our Facebook page. A huge thanks to Jeff Cook and all his friends/family with Gas Guzzy Events for a historic event and to Allen Pezo, Andy Hoffman, and Rick Romanini for their great respect of monster truck history in keeping these old school machines alive.

Fans do us a favor and go check out and bookmark and also and stay tuned for all the developments they have in growing this nostalgia event.

Video of the Week – 10/16/10

Week Ending:  October 16th, 2010
Truck(s) Featured:  Predator (Allen Pezo), Shotgun Harry (Jeff Cook), Uncle Slam (Rick Romanini), Live Wire (Rick Romanini), Iron Reaper (Rick Romanini), Nitecrawler (Andy Hoffman)
Video Type:  Promoter Highlight Video

Description:  Video highlights from the incredible Inaugural 4×4 Off Road Truck Show Challenge presented by Gas Guzzy Events. The event was held at the American Heritage Village in Auburn, Indiana and featured old school monster truck action, mud bogs and obstacle course racing.

First Ever 4×4 Off Road Truck Show Challenge This Weekend

Old school monster truck fans, get ready as the event you’ve been waiting for since the late 1980’s is coming to Auburn, Indiana Saturday, October 16th!! The first ever 4×4 Off Road Truck Show Challenge will be held at the American Heritage Village featuring “old school” monster trucks, mud bogs, show’n’shine, obstacle course racing and much more!!

This is one of the first throwback, nostalgia style monster truck events to ever be held and will feature old school monster trucks including Jeff Cook’s Shotgun Harry, Allen Pezo’s original Predator, Ron & Shelly Kujat’s Aces High and more! In addition to the old school trucks, monster tanks will be featured as well including Andy Hoffman’s Nitecrawler.

As if old school car crushing wasn’t enough, the Shotgun Harry and Predator trucks will attempt to float across a pond, something that hasn’t been seen in decades!! This one of a kind event is not to be missed by any true monster truck fan and the TMB crew will be out in force to cover it all, head on over to to get more information and tickets to one of the fall’s biggest events