Monster Photos: IMTM Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony & Reunion – Auburn, IN 2012

Event: 2nd Annual International Monster Truck Museum Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony & Reunion
Venue: International Monster Truck Museum @ The American Heritage Village
Location: Auburn, Indiana
Date: November 3rd, 2012
Photographer: Danny Maass

Hall of Fame Class of 2012: Jim Kramer (BIGFOOT 4×4), Mike Welch (Super Pete/Monster Mash/etc), George Carpenter (Promoter/Safety Director/Official/etc), Pablo Huffaker (King Krunch/Just Show’n Off/Grave Digger/etc), Dennis Anderson (Grave Digger) [Read more…]

Blast From The Past: Anaheim, CA 1989 – “Something Broo-ing”

Welcome back, ladies and gentlemen, to the “Blast from the Past’ blog where I, TMB Videographer Colby Marshall, review classic and especially 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.

Oh boy, oh boy, oh boy!!! Or, I should say OH MY! Look, its Ken Broo! He welcomes us to “The Big A” in Anaheim for USHRA’s 1989 stop (YouTube would be a good place to look if you want to follow along).

Wait, what the holy heck is that thing?!? Its the legendary Orange Blossom Express monster tank train thing. Joining Ken Broo will be Mike Galloway, who is riding shotgun (assistant conductor?) with Allen Gaines. Ken Broo lets loose the most dispassionate “Oh my.” I have ever heard. This was, of course, half a sentence…”Oh my, I am watching my career circle the toilet with this one.” Mike Galloway jumps down and says “HI KEN!” as they embrace. The gaze into each other’s eyes that they share is just long enough to make me VERY uncomfortable. California being a progressive state and what not, I decide to just move on. In the background, Allen Gaines and the greatest hair in the history of the world climb out onto the tracks of OBE. He perches up there like Poe’s Raven or something. “Nevermore will I be taken seriously for building this abomination”. We find out that there will be two brackets of racing…one with Monster Trucks, the other with Monster Tanks. Winners face each other. (Hold on as I flip my sarcasm switch to the on position) OH YAY! Another of THESE battles. Next…wait…no way…OK, I couldn’t make this up. A train passed my house just as OBE pulls away and Ken Broo sends us to a commercial break. It must be a sign that I chose the right event…

Or maybe not.

We come back from commercial as Mike Galloway attempts to explain the complex braking system on the brand-spanking-new AM/PM Rocket. Apparently, the output shaft feeds into this top loader rear end that has a rotor that spins under a caliper…WHAT THE &%$# ARE YOU TALKING ABOUT?!?!? Next, he decides it is time to describe the rear steering system. It turns using an extremely sophisticated toggle switch that is an extremely simple solution to turning the rear tires on these trucks. OK, now my head hurts. A lot. Big truck with big tires crushes small car. All I need to know, Mike.

Ken Broo describes the track next. Now, with the history of events in Anaheim, this is no easy task. Ken decides its time to make a play for the Baseball Tonight staff, and he proceeds to tell us that they start at home plate, race up the foul lines over a set of cars, then turn in center field and go over another set of cars.

Two on, two out in the bottom of the third as Hot Stuff and AM/PM Rocket come to the plate. Debbie Rhoden will take on Jim Ries. Rocket was brand new here, and Debbie Rhoden had fairly recently taken over the Hot Stuff ride. Ken Donat, just off screen, seems to have forgotten his flags this time around. He raises his hands and drops them Pinks-style. Unlike last time we saw him here on the Blast From the Past, he has found a relatively safe spot from which to start the trucks. We are progressing. Debbie Rhoden singles into left field and tears off down the first base line. Jim Ries, having never seen baseball, apparently, heads up the third base line. Rhoden gets all squirly as she trips over the first base bag, and gets it up on two wheels. Ries capitalizes and and heads across the large dirt mound out in, well, center field. Guess I shouldn’t have given ol’ Kenny-boy a hard time about that one, eh? They are about even coming into the final turn, but Ries makes one of the best turns I have ever seen, and takes the win as he crosses the final set.

Wait, wait, wait…looks like I spoke too soon about Ken Broo here. Allow me to bring to you his color commentary contributions to the previous race…

“Oh my goodness.”
“Oh my goodness.”
“Oh man.”
“Oh man.”
“Oh my goodness.”

All of this, of course, is going on under Mike Galloway’s ramblings about the race. I wonder if Ken Broo, when he goes home at night after his current job as a sports talk guy in Ohio, goes into a full body shudder and has nightmares of calling these shows.

Well, we go back to the batter’s box, and Bigfoot 7 is lining up against…AM/PM Rocket? Apparently, “The Wrangler” was supposed to race Foot here, but broke or something. You know the Wrangler as High Voltage, which was apparently new for this show, or so I have heard. Either way, we go straight to the Monster Truck final, as Jim “Chuck Norris” Kramer takes on Jim Ries. Those amazing on-screen graphics tell us that Bigfoot 7 weighs in at a svelte 23,000 pounds. Bigfoot 5 would like to have a word with you, Mr. ESPN Tech Director. They take off, with Kramer taking the early lead. However, unlike Bigfoot 4, numero 7 can’t handle the awesomeness that is Jim Kramer, and begins to smoke badly. Kramer, apparently hindered by that pesky not being able to see through the smoke thing, has trouble with the final turn. Ries, on the other hand, makes another epic turn in Rocket. Ries clears the cars and….OUCH!!! He augers the truck right into the side of one of the dirt hills and folds up the front end. I am fairly sure that didn’t buff out. Looks like Ramen noodles for a month for everyone at Golden State, because that has to be a rather pricey repair. We cut to a shot of a smoking Bigfoot 7 (say no to smoking, kids) as the announcers tell us that Kramer won the race. We will address that misconception shortly. But first, we dust off the old VOICE BASSIFIER AND REVERBERATOR 9000 , because it is time for…


“There’s a lesson. Never give up, even when, ya know, it doesn’t look great.”

There you have it, folks! KEN BROO’S LIFE LESSON OF THE NIGHT!!!

We go the the replay of the last race. Mike Galloway tells us that “Jim Ries made a good jump.” Only if you like $15,000 repair bills, Mike. He then tells us that they have just received word that The Rocket won that race. Keen Broo is incredulous, wondering how that could be if he…but Galloway cuts him off. You see, Mike guesses the finish line must be at the end of the cars. Wow guys, thanks for that information we could have used, oh I dunno, at the beginning of the darn show! Ugh. Lets just go to the bloody tanks…

We have Ernie Brookins in Trak Attack taking on Phil Tonseth in California Gold. Apparently, California Gold was completed at 3PM that same day. Glad to see USHRA booking trucks on speculation. Galloway runs down the list of specs on Trak Attack, including the Lenco Air Shift transmission. Up in Champaign, Illinois, Tim Hall just smiled. Hi, Tim!!! And, like many of Raminator’s contests, this race wasn’t even close. Cali Gold tries to bunt in a home run hitting contest. Brookins just owns him, but not before darn near endo’ing a tank. No easy task. Tons of smoke fills the inside on Trak Attack, as Ernie lifts the body and asks for some Cheetos and a hot dog.

We shows shots of the crush cars next, as Galloway and Broo make the requisite jokes about the first one being Ken Broo’s rental.

Up to bat next are Bigfoot Fastrax and Orange Blossom Express. RBC himself, Bob Chandler, taking on Allen Gaines. Truly a battle of legends in their respective sports. That said, Allen Gaines isn’t participating in his sport, now is he? No, he has a train…with tank tracks. Maybe Ernie Brookins shared some of what he was enjoying in that last race with Allen, and out of his head popped this idea. Only thing that makes sense to me. Well, here we are, many bags of Cheetos later, and the race begins. Any sense of euphoria for Mr. Gaines quickly turns into an absolute terror. It looks like Bobble head night in Anaheim, and he gets tossed around inside. He appears to have no harness and be sitting on top of a recently-sprung Jack-In-The-Box. OH NO!!! OH NO!!! HIS HEAD FLEW OFF!!! THE MAN’S HEAD FLEW OFF!!! Wait, it was just his helmet. Meanwhile, RBC is way out ahead and, despite some trouble on the last turn, takes an easy victory in this race. Mike Galloway chimes in at this point. “I’ve gotta say Allen Gaines is a winner tonight.” Yep, except for the whole losing thing. The ONLY way that Allen Gaines won tonight is if he has stock in Tylenol or something. I have had some pretty abusive hobbies over the years, but that run had to hurt something fierce in the morning. Lets just go to the tank finals, shall we?

Trak Attack and Bigfoot Fastrax are ready to go. Galloway informs us that both are based on Korean War-vintage M55 Retriever chassis designs…woof. Donat drops the arms and off we go! Immediately, the windshield on Trak Attack fogs up. You are such a hippie, Brookins! Chandler takes a sizable lead, but again has trouble with the final turn. This allows Brookins to groove his way across the final set first, and take a far out win. So, that sets up Teak Attack and Bigfoot 7. AM/PM Rocket is obviously done for the night after that wreck. But wait, it appears that Trak Attack is broken, as well. “Broken”, of course, being slang for arrested for possession. Ken Broo makes the brilliant analogy that this is like the Miss America pageant, where the winner can’t fulfill her duties and the first runner-up takes her place. Ken, I know both Jim Kramer and Bob Chandler. And, while they are fantastic guys and great minds, I swear that if either of them ever won Miss America, I would go ahead and immigrate to Tajikistan.

So, we have an all-Bigfoot final round. RBC pinch hitting for Brookins, taking on Kramer, who is pinch running for Ries. Next is the swimsuit competition. Kramer absolutely eats Chandler alive on the start line, as RBC takes a break to count his millions of dollars from inventing a sport. Despite this, Chandler makes a great run of it, catching up with Jim Kramer. Little known fact about Jim Kramer is that he was born in a log cabin that he built with his own two hands. (Thank you to Mrs. Kramer for that one) It is a close race at the line, with Galloway saying he thought Fastrax took it. Jim Kramer throws his hands up, asking a track official who won the race. He knows…

Its Bigfoot 7 taking the win by the slightest of margins. RBC springs forth from out of nowhere to shake Jim Kramer’s hand. Seriously, he just sort of appeared with some Matrix-style move straight on to the left front of 7. Probably the most impressive move of the night. Ken Broo sends us away, informing us that this was a presentation of Bud Sports through the facilities of ESPN…but that is not watch grabs my attention. No, that honor goes to the Roman numerals telling us the year of broadcast…MCMLXXXVIIII?

Oh, Mr. ESPN Tech Director? Your middle school social studies teacher would like to review your Roman numerals answers with you.

Well, off to the TV station for another day of work for yours truly. Until next time, OLD SCHOOL RULES!!!

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!