St. Louis Monster Jam
February 25, 2006
St. Louis was the Gateway to the West for journeymen Lewis & Clark, and for the stars of Monster Jam, was one of the last stops on their way west as well. Destination Las Vegas and the Monster Jam World Finals7 was closing in and the sold out Edward Jones Dome played host to a huge field of monster trucks, including several Vegas 'bound competitors who needed to build momentum and make a statement during this major stop on the road to Sam Boyd Stadium.
Grave Digger--Randy Brown
Maximum Destruction--Tom Meents
Bounty Hunter--Jimmy Creten
Iron Outlaw--Linsey Weenk
Blue Thunder--Tony Farrell
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle--Alex Blackwell
El Toro Loco--Lupe Soza
Bob & Tom--Guy Wood
Professional stuntman Mark Hager was also in St. Louis to perform a record breaking car jump known as the "Sui-Spiral." Hager's launch ramp consisted of a flat bed hauler ramped up a large dirt hill with an angled pipe ramp down the middle of the flat bed. The landing pad was a HUGE 30 car pile on top of a dirt bed. The 2x15 rows of cars took up an enormous amount of space, even in the big dome, and would definitely come into play many times during the night.
Prior to the show, I had the great opportunity and pleasure to present Randy Brown, Tom Meents and Linsey Weenk each with their 2005 WMTRL Top Ten plaques. Meents finished in 10th place, Brown in 5th and Weenk in 9th. The World Monster Truck Racing League has crowned a champion every year since 2004 and is growing in popularity and notoriety every week. You can learn about the series and follow the standings all year on WMTRL.com!
The six hours of pre-show wait time was up and the trucks were lined up in the tunnel ready to shoot out for intros!
Blue Thunder and Bounty Hunter got special entrance videos and roared onto the track and parked up on the big car-van-bus-van-car stack.
Grave Digger and Maximum Destruction blasted out of the tunnel back-to-back and went into a mini freestyle as they chased each other around the racing lanes. Brown nearly rolled Digger while making one turn, but saved it and parked the truck as Meents skidded his truck to a stop right next to Digger.
For the second year in a row, the track was a Chicago-style course, not a traditional (and logical) St. Louis-style. The dirt was tacky to start the night off and would be for most of qualifying. Elapsed times got quicker and the turns became faster as the dirt loosened through the corners. Tom Meents and Alex Blackwell were the first two guys out and used the fresh track to their advantage. Meents picked up the #1 spot with a 21.47 second run, but the top 4 trucks were only separated by a half-second margin! Some Qualifying shots:
Racing Round 1
Maximum Destruction vs. Eradicator-- Meents faced off against Andy Slifko in Eradicator who was the slowest qualifier and unfortunately did not improve on his performance in this round. However, Meents did, and shaved another tenth of a second off his quick qualifying time and routed Eradicator. Meents crossed the finish while Slifko was still lining up his final jump. Winner: Maximum Destruction.
Bob & Tom vs. Grave Digger-- Wood is a St. Louis favorite and had very good luck during the start of 2006 with the Bob & Tom truck, while Brown had an up and down first few months. Brown needed to get back to the winning ways but had a very tough first round match. Brown drilled the light and left Wood sleeping and had him covered by two trucks lengths into the first turn. Wood stayed smooth in the corner and gained a full truck length at the half way point of the race. Brown still had the lead as they entered the final turn, but Wood pulled an incredible quick corner and roared toward the final set crooked and with smoke shooting out from underneath. They hit the cars together and crossed the line in a wild photo finish! Of course with my terrible seat angle, I don't have a finish line shot, but Wood pulled off the huge comeback victory and nipped Brown at the line by less than a tire! Winner: Bob & Tom.
The engine in Bob & Tom was hurt and was only running on 5 cylinders which caused the slow takeoff but had built up enough power by the end of the run to allow Wood to make his comeback.
Bounty Hunter vs. Iron Outlaw-- The teammates qualified nearly dead even and would have to do battle in the first round, rather than the Finals. Linsey Weenk's incredible 5-event, 20-round win streak had come to an end back in Phoenix at the hands of Jason Childress in Batman and we saw that Weenk was indeed human after all. He may have fallen off the top of the mountain a little, but was still a huge threat to beat anyone and win any event. In the other lane, a guy that doesn't need a review of his credentials in racing, but I will point out that in 2005, Creten did not get to race this event due to damage suffered in Qualifying. He had to sit and watch Meents take the racing win over Dennis Anderson. In 2004, Creten made it to Finals, but lost twice to Tom Meents that night. And the history continues as Creten and Weenk were also the Final race ever at the Pontiac Silverdome back in January where Creten clipped a turning pole and handed the win to Weenk. Phew! Got all that? Ok, let's see what we can add to all this.
Both guys were nearly even off the line, but it was Creten with a slight lead over the first set with some big air. Weenk tried to speed through the turns but was over-driving them and going to wide. Creten stayed slow and smooth and out ahead of Weenk through two turns. The final turn was the same result as Creten hugged the turning poles and powered to the finish a half-truck ahead of Weenk. Great race! Creten set the fastest time of the night so far with a 20.41 second pass. Winner: Bounty Hunter.
Ninja Turtle vs. Blue Thunder-- Blackwell did not have a great Qualifying run and seemed very timid on the big track. He had not raced in St. Louis before and some inexperience definitely shown through. Tony Farrell did Qualify well and was looking too make up for a very poor 2006 including a total flop at the final Pontiac event and also to rebound from a miserable 2005 St. Louis event that was a mirror image of Pontiac. Lost in Round 1 and broke two jumps into Freestyle. Farrell took out his aggression on the lonely Turtle and stomped Blackwell into the ground. Problems again for Turtle while Farrell never eased up and put down a very smooth pass, beating Turtle by 5 truck lengths. Winner: Blue Thunder.
El Toro Loco vs. BYE-- El Toro was scheduled to face Devastator, but problems after Qualifying left Mark Schroeder's truck crippled in the pits. Devastator busted the U-joint and the rear steering en route to a #4 Qualifying time and unfortunately would be stuck on the sidelines for racing. Lupe Soza received a Bye Run. Soza took the straightaway's very fast, but did not attack the corners, which was a big mistake. Its was a free pass, he should've pushed the truck to the absolute limit to be ready for future competition. Winner: El Toro Loco.
Racing Round 2
Maximum Destruction vs. Iron Outlaw-- Weenk got back into racing as the Fast Loser, but was paired up against perhaps the only guy he never beat on his 20-round win streak...Tom Meents. Weenk needed to turn his mini losing funk around and could make a big statement with a win. Weenk put a hole shot on Meents and crossed the center stripe a 1/4 truck ahead as they went for the first turn. Weenk went in way too fast and rocked Iron Outlaw up two wheels! He brought it back down but lost a ton of time to Meents. But, Meents did not hit the second set of cars correctly and was all kinds of out of shape on the landing and did not set up for the final turn well. Weenk used Meents' bobble to close the gap. Meents made a solid turn, but was lucky he had the huge lead because Weenk put down the best turn of the night and narrowed the gap down to 3 truck lengths at the finish line. Meents nosed the front end into the ground very hard on the landing and smoke began pouring from the engine. Fluid shot out onto the engine and then caught fire once the truck rolled into the pits! The small fire was put out but damage was done to the orbital steering system and would need a major repair before the next round. Winner: Maximum Destruction.
Bob & Tom vs. El Toro Loco-- The engine in Guy Wood's truck was still on its last life with only 5 of the 8 cylinders kickin'. He would only be at full speed for half the race and his only shot at winning was hoping El Toro wasn't too far ahead at that point. Off the line it was no surprise that Soza left Wood way behind and had a good lead into the first turn. Both trucks ran smooth through the corner and here we go again! Wood closed the gap down to less than a truck length across the second set and had great momentum for the final turn. Wood whipped around the first two poles well, but clipped the third pole with the left front tire! He continued to charge to the finish and ended up beating El Toro to the finish by two truck lengths! Another incredible comeback win, but was taken away due to the penalty. Lupe got lucky for the second time tonight. First, he didn't have to race Devastator and now gets a gift win after wasting his Bye run earlier. Winner: El Toro Loco.
Blue Thunder vs. Bounty Hunter-- The two big Fords collided to determine the last truck headed to the Semi-Finals. Both have been very fast and very quick in the corners and we were in for a heck of a race. Creten yanked the front wheels into the air off the line with a tremendous start and had Farrell beat by a 1/4 truck length immediately. Farrell did not back down and blasted through his first turn and took the lead away from Creten! Farrell now had the 1/4 truck lead this time by. Creten nailed another quick, tight turn to stay close and charged for the last jump. Meanwhile, Farrell's hard charge into the final turn put Blue Thunder up on two wheels, but Farrell never let out of the throttle! He powered Blue Thunder all the way through the second half of the turn at full speed on only the right side tires! He touched the left front back down right as he hit the final ramp and barely, barely fell to Bounty Hunter at the finish. Incredible job of driving in the corner and one hell of a race. Winner: Bounty Hunter.
Maximum Destruction vs. Blue Thunder-- After Farrell's incredible effort in Round 2, he remained quick enough to move on as a Fast Loser, but would be stuck up against Tom Meents. Farrell tore out of the hole and crossed the middle of the track a 1/4 truck ahead of Meents. Farrell carried a ton of speed into the first turn and shot out towards the second set still in the lead. Meents did not take the first turn smooth or fast and barely cleared his set of cars. Max D did not look to be at full power and maybe the fire had something to do with that! Farrell nearly rode the final turn again on two wheels and blasted around the final pole and sailed to a huge win! Max D struggled to finish the race almost 5 truck lengths behind. Winner: Blue Thunder.
Bounty Hunter vs. El Toro Loco-- Soza has relied on pure luck to make it this far and was going to need all of that luck and more to get past Bounty Hunter. Creten has knocked out Weenk and Farrell and was ready to add the crazy bull to the list. Creten blasted out of the hole with a wheel stand but immediately let out of the gas to prevent launching off the ramp crooked. Soza stayed even with Bounty Hunter over the first set but began to fall behind through the first turn. They crossed the stripe after the second set and Creten had a 3-truck length lead. Creten let out of the throttle and took the last turn much slower than he should have while Soza blistered his final turn and they were neck and neck to the finish! Creten out muscled Soza on the jump and held off El Toro by a truck length! Creten's slow turn was smooth and legal, but nearly bit him in the end. Winner: Bounty Hunter.
Blue Thunder vs. Bounty Hunter-- ...and they would fight it out again! They've been the fastest and most consistent racers all night and if their wild first match up wasn't enough, they got the chance to do it once more. Farrell had the faster time in the semi-finals and would have lane choice, but did not play any mind games and left Creten and himself in the lanes they've run all night. Farrell jumped all over Creten out of the hole and had a truck length lead over the first set. Creten's start was not smooth and he again had to let out of the gas. But, Farrell's advantage went south as he had a horrible second turn and Creten took over and now had a 2-truck length lead at half track. Creten did not take any chances in the turn this time and remained fast around the poles and put Bounty Hunter on full tilt to the finish. Farrell blasted Blue Thunder out of the final turn but it was not enough! Jimmy Creten held onto a truck and a half length lead and flew by Blue Thunder for the victory! St. Louis Racing Winner: Bounty Hunter!
Mark Hager Sui-Spiral
Professional Hollywood stuntman Mark Hager came to St. Louis to try for a record setting jump known as the "Sui-Spiral!" Hager would attempt to launch his car off the ramp and complete three 360-degree spirals in the air before crashing down onto the 30-car landing pad. Hager had to actually start outside in the street to reach the needed 55 miles per hour speed.
Hager sped through the tunnel of the Edward Jones Dome, blasted onto the floor, up the ramp and...BANG!! Three huge fireballs exploded as Hager's car flew right through them, twisting around 1 and a 1/2 times before slamming incredibly hard wheels first onto the end of the car pile! The force of the landing launched the car over again before finally coming to a stop. Absolutely nuts!
Hager emerged from the car unscathed and even though he did not get his 3 full spirals, it was still an awesome jump to watch!
The first half of the show ends with a bang! The 2006 St. Louis Monster Jam continues on the next page with all the wild Freestyle action!