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: 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 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: Monster Truck Show – Phoenix, AZ 2015

(Coverage By Christopher Allen, Photos By Jim Allen)

Weekend Recap

This time on the Allen Report, we make our way to the Maricopa County Fair, which each year caters to a huge crowd with good food, thrilling rides and
excellent entertainment. On Friday and Sunday of the fair, the big crowd was in the Sanderson Ford Arena for high flying, super fast monster truck action. Tonight’s action would be provided through wheelie contest, roundy-round racing and freestyle. Friday featured Ben “Bobo” Winslow representing Sturges Motorsports in Nasty Boy. Fellow Tucson representatives Rod Wood and McGruff were in the house as well. The father and son team of Rick and Eric Swanson made the trip from California ready to give a show. On Sunday, these four were joined by the other two Sturges monster vehicles, Unnamed & Untamed with “Wildman Sam” Sturges at the controls and good friend Cesar Nunez at the helm of the ’63 Corvette Rat Attack.

On Friday, Nasty Boy and McGruff gave preview freestyle runs to get the crowd pumped up for later action. When the show officially began with wheelie contest, admirable efforts were given by all, but Rod Wood carried a beautiful slap wheelie most of the length of the floor despite little traction to the loudest applause from the crowd.

In side by side racing, officials decreed that not one but two laps would be required to achieve victory. In the heats, Rick Swanson had no trouble against Nasty Boy, punching his ticket to the finals. Son Eric did the same when Rod Wood gave a good race but was just unable to overtake the nineteen year old before the finish line jump. Before the finals, the two runners-up were bound for a third place race. But when mechanical issues prevented McGruff from firing up, the veteran Ben Winslow conserved his truck to make sure he got to the final jump and took third place. In the father and son racing finals, Rick had the lead halfway home but Eric was picking up speed. At the final jump of the bracket, nineteen year old Eric barely pulled out the victory, much to the delight of the audience.

In Freestyle, Nasty Boy soared through the Arizona sky and finally got the wheelies he had been seeking to much positive response from the crowd. Rod Wood was a man on a mission about not being able to race for third place and carried high speed, big air and superb cyclone donuts to put himself in the hunt for the freestyle win. Rick Swanson had had cross thread moves, huge air and great sky wheelies off the construction barriers, attempting to win over the fans. But Eric Swanson shot for the moon, duplicated his father’s sideways moves and put his truck into the spin cycle to the loudest cheers of all to sweep racing and freestyle the first night. With two shows to go on Sunday, the game was far from over.

On the first show Sunday, every driver gave good attempts, but Rod Wood did not rest on his laurels from two nights earlier, taking the second straight wheelie win, going straight up and down and riding it out for most of the arena floor. It wasn’t an easy win though, as Nasty Boy, Rat Attack and Unnamed & Untamed all gave the Tucson native a run for his money.

On to racing, where only one lap, not two, was needed to win. Rick Swanson buried the throttle to the floor to beat Nasty Boy coming to the finish line jump in the first round. He got the biggest air of the weekend, but a slap wheelie sent him into the concrete barriers at the the end of the track, heavily damaging the front differential. When only two trucks remained, Eric Swanson was looking to defend his Racing win streak, but Sam Sturges in Unnamed & Untamed had other ideas. When the checkered flag flew, Eric’s trophy truck monster was was just ahead of his veteran opponent, going two for two in Racing. In freestyle, every driver threw caution to the wind, hoping to get the loudest response from the spectators possible. But once more, the second generation driver Eric Swanson put big air, high speed and dusty cyclones all into the mix to a clapping and cheering crowd, clearly sweeping the Racing and Freestyle again.

In the fair closing show late Sunday, Racing was cut from the program to make room for the filler acts. For freestyle, some of the losing democross cars were made into a seven car jump and two vans were put in place as well to be crushed. In the final wheelie contest, the man behind McGruff picked up where he left off with perfect verticality and superb distance in two of his three tries to sweep wheelies for the weekend. In the final freestyle competition of the Maricopa County Fair, every driver gave it all. Nasty Boy was first to hit the two vans which gave way underneath him, sending him on his side. Driver and former bullfighter Ben Winslow was just fine. Cesar Nunez performed well in the Rat Attack vehicle, hitting every jump with gusto before a blown front tire ended his run early. But the driver behind the wheel of Obsessed was a kid on a mission. Big air over the cars, dirt slinging cyclones and high speed all through the run erased any doubt who the winner was.

The other acts alongside monster trucks were side by side tuff truck racing, which was won by John Davis in vehicle number 1495, an off road style pickup truck. John was actually behind until the final lap, where his opponent started to celebrate his victory one lap too early. And the last man standing democross had the audience both cheering and laughing with intentional spinning out, thunderous contact and vehicles coming down from the jumps on top of opposing cars’ trunks. A timed event, this race went on and on until one car was still running. That car was number 86 with Tim Randall at the wheel.

Well, monster truck fans, we at “The Allen Report” are just getting started with a busy summer and autumn schedule coming up fast and we look forward to keeping you updated from throughout the west coast, among other places. Thank you for reading, a sincere thanks to Zack and Grand Canyon State Promotions for having us, 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: 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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The Allen Report – Monster Truck Show – Phoenix, AZ 2013

(Coverage By Christopher Allen, Photos By Jim Allen)

Weekend Recap

This time on “The Allen Report”, five regional favorites are pushed to the limit in two shows in a single day, the last day of the Maricopa County Fair. It was here, one year ago, where Grand Canyon State Promotions ventured into the world of monster trucks for the very first time. With the big crowd that followed last year, it made sense the monster trucks came back this year. The lineup looked like this: Tucson’s Rod Wood was in McGruff and Ronnie Sturges, as always, piloted Nasty Boy. His brother Travis filled in for their Uncle Sam in Unnamed & Untamed and a friend of the Sturges’ from just across the border in Mexico named Cesar Nunez took the helm of the sleek ’63 Corvette named Rat Attack. Finally, Jack Koberna, as always, drove Tuff-E-Nuff.

The race course of choice was “Minneapolis Style”, with the trucks starting in the middle and working their way around with the third jump representing the finish line. After Nasty Boy put McGruff in the dog pound, Rat Attack took the place of Unnamed against Tuff-E-Nuff after the 1942 Panel Wagon locked up both axles on the way to the starting line. Rat Attack won the right to face Nasty Boy in the first semi final. In the consolation race, McGruff got his groove back and tamed Tuff-E-Nuff to get another shot at the main event where Nasty Boy, having beaten Rat Attack, was there waiting. But history repeated itself when McGruff spun out in the final corner, giving the racing title to Ronnie Sturges. In the exhibition only freestyle, McGruff had some great air and kept the speed up very well. But the highlight came when Rat Attack launched off a starting line jump and followed it up with a slap wheelie before a tuff truck jump sent him on his side, much to the delight of the fans.

The evening show would see only 4 vehicles as Rat Attack’s rollover broke his hub inside the axle and it could not get fixed in time. But Unnamed & Untamed was back in the game with both third members in the axles fixed. In racing, McGruff rolled the dice one more time with Unnamed and won to advance to the finals. Nasty Boy downed Tuff-E-Nuff in the other semi to face Rod Wood for the third time in the same day. But first, the dark cloud finally lifted off of U & U when Travis Sturges drove to victory over New Mexico’s Jack Koberna in the third place race. In the main event, Rod Wood just could not stop the domination of Team Sturges at the Maricopa County Fair. Nasty Boy swept racing. To finish the night, all 4 trucks gave it all in a wild exhibition only freestyle. Jack Koberna, the southwest monster truck legend from New Mexico, threw out some huge air, a near vertical slap wheelie and some dusty donuts, much to the delight of the fans.

The shows also featured some tuff truck racing, freestyle motocross action and hilarious side by side SUV racing on the tuff truck course. For us at “The Allen Report”, we are headed over to Los Angeles next to cover Robby Gordon’s SST race at the venue where stadium off road racing all began, the L.A. Memorial Coliseum. So, thank you for reading, a huge thanks to Grand Canyon State Promotions for their hospitality, enjoy the photos and cheer on!

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The Allen Report: Autism Speaks – Phoenix, AZ 2013

(Coverage By Christopher Allen, Photos By Jim Allen)

Weekend Recap

At the time of this writing, just days remain before the first ever Stadium Super Trucks race at University of Phoenix Stadium. But before that, Team Bigfoot had some special audience members to please: Young people with autism. On World Autism Awareness Day dozens of families gathered in the stadium’s parking lot to watch Bigfoot #20 crush cars to benefit the team’s newest sponsor, Autism Speaks.

Driving duties went to Monster Truck Hall of Famer Jim Kramer. And there was no problem whatsoever with noise. Bigfoot #20 is the worlds first and, thus far, only all electric powered monster truck. So the biggest noise came from the cars themselves as the 66 inch tall tires rolled right over them. The night culminated in the unveiling of Team Bigfoot’s Autism Speaks body, complete with the company’s signature puzzle piece logo. The families must have loved it because they clapped and cheered and took many pictures of the new body.

Now the curtain is about to rise on Robby Gordon’s reboot of stadium off road racing, and more highlights are on the way from us here at “The Allen Report” from just that event. That being said, thank you for reading, thanks so much to University of Phoenix Stadium for hosting this touching event, enjoy the photos and cheer on!

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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!

Photo Gallery

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The Allen Report: Monster Truck Show – Phoenix, AZ 2012

(Coverage By Christopher Allen, Photos By Jim Allen)

Believe it or not, some promoters put together automotive entertainment shows without monster trucks. Arizona’s own Grand Canyon State Promotions has done demo derby shows and freestyle motocross shows, but never monster trucks. That is, until now. On April 15th, the last day of the 2012 Maricopa County Fair, the young promoter ventured into monster trucks. The lineup included: Travis Sturges in 1/2 Pint, brother Ronnie in Nasty Boy and their Uncle Sam in Unnamed & Untamed. There was also Murphy McCorey driving El Perro Loco and New Mexico’s own Jack Koberna in Tuff Enuff.

Both shows saw Chicago style racing. To open the afternoon show, Nasty Boy defeated 1/2 Pint in Round 1. Due to a lack of available fast loser, the 1940 Willys got a bye into the finals. El Perro Loco, who had had a bye run the round before, faced Tuff Enuff for the right to face Nasty Boy in the finals. The 30 year veteran Jack Koberna crossed the line first, but lost due to failing to get both front tires up the ramp on the final jump. In the finale, it was neck and neck until the crazy dog’s tail washed out on him, giving Nasty Boy the win. Freestyle saw great runs from all. Sadly, Tuff Enuff was finished for the weekend only two jumps in due to a blown motor. After several tries at a cheer off, it was Sturges walking away with the win, Sam and Unnamed, that is.

The evening show saw Nasty Boy chain El Perro Loco to advance into the finals again, this time facing teammate 1/2 Pint in a rematch from the afternoon. This time around, Travis put Nasty Boy in the naughty corner with a win to close racing for the weekend. But the night’s action was far from over. Having been plagued by ignition problems all day, Sam still impressed his home state fans with wheelies and fine air. But 1/2 Pint had the biggest air of the day on several of the big jumps on the floor, long wheelies and plenty of speed. All of those moves were more than enough to become the only double winner of the weekend. It was truly an amazing weekend for the home state team; as every member of the team took home at least one trophy. With a nearly full crowd, a good field of competitors and a well built track, the future looks promising for Grand Canyon State Promotions.

Throughout the weekend, there had been an exhibition showcasing tough trucks racing special off road vehicles called tom cars, all supplied by a local Ford dealer. And the Boogie Monster ride truck gave rides to all who wanted one before and after every performance. Next stop for us at “The Allen Report” is Firebird International Raceway where some of the biggest names who play the game will throw down to see which one of them can freestyle best on the unforgiving drag strip. Until then, thank you for reading, thanks to everyone at Grand Canyon State Promotions for their hospitality, enjoy the photos and cheer on!

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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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The Allen Report: Monster Truck Show – Phoenix, AZ 2011

(Coverage By Christopher Allen, Photos By Jim Allen)

One year ago, WGAS Motorsports brought monster trucks back to the Arizona State Fair after a several year absence. And they must have done well because not only did the monsters play to a sold out house each night, but they came back for more just last weekend, November 3rd through 6th with my father Jim and I covering each night from the 4th onward. This year’s four drivers included father and son duo Rick and Eric Swanson driving their signature Obsession and Obsessed machines in front of an Arizona crowd for the very first time. Rounding out the field was Chris Lagana in the Ice Monster and Chris Ryan in Ground Pounder.

On the first night, 16 year old Eric and Obsessed impressed many, including the judges with a score of 27 out of 40. But the runs of his father Rick and Chris Ryan in the Ground Pounder were both so good, they could only tie, each with a score of 34. The next night, every driver took their runs to a whole new level. Obsessed had the fastest donuts of the night and Ice Monster had great air, but Ground Pounder finally found the signature slap wheelies he had been searching for and got a perfect 40 for the win. The final day saw the monsters perform to a sellout crowd. Rick and Obsession pulled off the gloves and went for broke, hitting everything on the track and had plenty of speed. The judges were impressed and gave him a score of 38, but in the end, Ground Pounder edged him out by just one point, giving Chris Ryan the weekend sweep.

In other action, Bob Johnson gave rides to everyone who wanted one in his Hog Wild monster while Jake Blackwell did the same with his 1947 Mack fire monster, the Extinguisher. Also, the term “Home wrecker” was taken to a whole new level with motor home demolition derbies. Next for me is the inaugural International Monster Truck Museum Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony. Then it’s on to 2012 for us at “The Allen Report”. Until then, thank you for reading, a special thanks to John Borba and WGAS Motorsports for their hospitality, enjoy the great photos by Jim Allen and cheer on!

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The Allen Report: Monster Jam – Phoenix, AZ 2011

(Coverage By Christopher Allen, Photos By Jim Allen)

Chase Field in downtown Phoenix once again played host to Monster Jam on Saturday, January 29th and it all kicked off as the most famous on-track rivalry in monster truck racing roared out of the tunnel. The most decorated lineup Phoenix has ever seen included Chad Tingler behind the wheel of Grave Digger, Kreg Christensen returning to Maximum Destruction, Madusa in her Phoenix debut, Norm Miller driving Batman, Alex Blackwell in Captain’s Curse, Todd Leduc in Blue Thunder, the “voice of Monster Jam on SPEED” Mark Schroeder in The Felon, all four members of Team Scream and local favorite Rod Wood driving McGruff. Throughout the night, both Norm Miller and Alex Blackwell were announced as Monster Jam World Finals qualifiers.

The style of course for UTI Racing was Southern California, or, so-cal style. The trucks start by racing each other off a large tabletop before turning away from each other, flying down a straightaway, making a u-turn and racing back the way they came. Max D would take the top spot in qualifying with a time of 25 seconds flat, but it proved useless as he fell to Grave Digger in the quarter finals. Also advancing to the semis were Captain’s Curse, Blue Thunder and Avenger as the fastest loser even after a mid-air collision with Madusa back in Round 1. Grave Digger and Blue Thunder were even through most of the finals, but then the slippery track finally bit Tingler and spun him out in the final turn, giving Todd Leduc his first ever racing victory!

For the third consecutive year, the 30 second bonus time rule was in place. Of the first six of the twelve truck field, Blue Thunder was one of only three drivers who could make it to bonus time with a score of 22. Chris Bergeron in Brutus tried to do a back flip of his own off the side of the tabletop, but the wheelie bar caught the dirt and Brutus went belly-up with a full minute left in the run. Avenger nailed cross threads, big air and did not roll until just moments before his time was up. But after falling short of a racing win, Chad Tingler clearly had blood in his eyes and gave the fans a vintage Grave Digger freestyle, never rolling over and flying long after his time was finished. With a score of 26, Grave Digger saw the Phoenix victory lane for the first time since 2008.

After what happened here in 2011, how can the monsters do better still next year?  They will try and we will be there for all of it. Until next time, check out some of Jim Allen’s great photos from the event and thanks for reading!

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Monster Photos – Monster Jam – Phoenix, AZ 2011

Event: Monster Jam
Venue: Chase Field
Location: Phoenix, Arizona
Date: January 29th, 2011
Photographer: Ross Z. Bonar

Lineup: Avenger (Jim Koehler), Batman (Norm Miller), Blue Thunder (Todd Leduc), Brutus (Chris Bergeron), Captain’s Curse (Alex Blackwell), Grave Digger (Chad Tingler), Madusa (Debra Miceli), Maximum Destruction (Kreg Christensen), McGruff (Rod Wood), Spike (Rich Hilgendorf), The Felon (Mark Schroeder), Wrecking Crew (Steve Koehler) [Read more…]