CFP Winter Nationals
Cape Girardeau, MO

In 2003, I paid my first visit to Cape Girardeau and it was my first time seeing a Checkered Flag Productions show live. My reaction to that weekend was "I have got to go back!" Last year I saw a lot of trucks for the very first time and this year would be one of firsts again. More new trucks, a new race course and a whole new experience! I attended both day's events last year along with the Gateway R/C Demo Team but this year the show format was too packed to fit in the R/Cs in so I headed to the Saturday night event by myself. Well, not quite. I had some baggage in the form of my friend Jackie who wanted to come along for her first complete monster truck show after seeing three different Rockford Speedway events. She was just having too much fun wearing and sporting her all-access wristband as well. Thank you Mr. Ed Beckley for allowing our access to the show. As CFP says "Let's go Racing!"

Truck/Driver Lineup:

Unnamed&Untamed--Sam Sturgess
. One of the two Sturgess race trucks and neither I have seen before. The Unnamed&Untamed name has been in monster trucks for a very long time and its about time I get to see it in action.

Nasty Boy--Ronnie Sturgess
. The second Sturgess truck, driven by Sam's son Ronnie. I saw a video clip of this truck doing some wicked slap wheelies and was looking forward to a great performance from Nasty Boy.

Nemesis--Bob Shae
. The new, awesome looking Nemesis scheme debuted last year in Cape Girardeau and since then, Shae has added some more new stuff to the truck to make it even more competitive. Bigfoot and Beast both fell victim to Nemesis last year, who's on the hit list this year?

Carolina Crusher--Michael Harper
. Do I even need to say anything about Harper? Out of control, to the limit and balls to the wall style is what Harper is all about. Harper went berzerk when I saw him in Springfield Missouri and I was looking for more of the same in Cape Girardeau.

Maximum T.O.R.C--Corey Neff
. Corey (pronounced as CRAY) was runner-up for 2003 MTRA rookie of the year and even though I only saw him run once, I knew he was going to be a force to watch out for. With the power of Maximum TORC and the skill of Neff, his sophomore year could be a dominating one.

Holman's Beast--Bobby Holman
. A CFP legend and easily one of most over looked and under rated monster trucks and drivers in the world. Beast has destroyed every opponent put before him be it Bigfoot, Grave Digger, Goldberg or Bearfoot and the list goes on. Will Holman add 5 more names to that list in Cape?

The night's action kicked off with tractor pulling, yes, tractor pulling has returned to monster truck events. Usual pulling tracks are 300ft long but because the Show-Me-Center is certainly not 300ft long, the tractors ran diagonally across the floor using every inch of space possible. No one tractor really stood out and on the short track, all of them got a full pull.

Monster Truck Qualifying

The race course for the monster trucks was a short, but tricky at times, track consisting of a roller type hill off the start then a slightly bigger hill on the finish line. The track was about 50 feet long meaning the races would be fast and tight. Each truck would get a qualifying pass out of each lane and taking their best time of the two. Because the runs were so quick, I had really no clue on who was faster than who but Ed Beckley was right on the times and it was Holman's Beast taking the number 1 spot with a sub-2 second run. Holman was putting some serious power down as he pulled wheelies off the line each time. The keys to fast times and that would be keys in racing were to get off the line quick and to not nose into the second hill. Hitting that second hill with the front end too hard would send the truck sky high and lose valuable momentum across the finish line.

In between the rounds of monster trucks, amateur and pro Quad riders hit the track. Lots off good racing including some rough hits and crashes but everyone came away unscaved. One of the heats was won by a 17year old girl which was over big time with the sold out crowd.

Monster Truck Racing Round 1

Carolina Crusher vs. Maximum T.O.R.C--

Two young gun leadfoots would meet right off the bat. There didn't seem to be a favorable lane in my opinion so there weren't going to be any excuses for driver error. Harper was on kill and drilled the flag drop and had a distinct lead off the line and over the first hill. Neff wasn't going to let him just slip by and tried to catch him even on the short course and nearly caught him on the last jump but Harper's hole shot made the difference. Winner: Carolina Crusher. I could tell already that the races were going to be closer than even I had imagined.

Beast vs. Nemesis--

Holman ripped another wheel standing launch over the first hill but got crossed up in between the hills. Shae stuck right with Beast and was closing in at the second hill but Holman's lead off the line was again the deciding factor. Strong run by both trucks. Winner: Beast.

Nasty Boy vs. Unnamed&Untamed--

This race was delayed from the first round and put at the start of the Round 2 racing segment as in the Qualifying round, Unnamed&Untamed's trasmission went out and crews from every team thrashed on the truck getting it changed in just under 30 minutes. Excellent team work. But would the tranny hold up for racing? Ronnie in Nasty Boy bolted off the line first and had a distinct lead over the first hill. He kept the speed up and blasted over the final jump well ahead of Sam in the other lane. Winner: Nasty Boy.

Round 2

Beast vs. Maximum TORC--

The Sturgess trucks had to face each other and now the two Team Beast trucks must as well. Holman pulled another wheelie off the line but it hurt him right away as the truck hooked to the left and he had to fight it to get back on track. Neff was just behind at the light but kept it fast and straight over the jumps, staying even with Beast. They hit the final hill together and got some great air as they crossed the finished side bye side. I had no clue who won and initially if I remember correct, Maximum TORC was called the winner. But the crowd did not like that too much in some areas and that caught the attention of Ed Beckley. He got the opinion of the people sitting on each side of the finish line and they both said the race was a tie! I wasn't sure like I said so I didn't care too much but upon seeing this picture, Neff got screwed. Winner: Undecided.

Carolina Crusher vs. Nemesis--

After the first round, Harper told me that his transmission was starting to go away and he had lost 1st gear. Like that was going to stop him. Shae stuck with Holman in Round 1 but Harper was not going to be a pushover. Harper drilled the light and flew over the first jump in no time and landed perfectly in between before the second jump and cruised over the final hill to the win. Nemesis was left behind at the line and was a good 1/2 truck back at the finish. Winner: Carolina Crusher.

After that race, 3rd gear was starting to head for the dumps on Crusher's transmission but Harper was going to run it til it died. This where there was more Quad action and where Michael decided to catch up on some sleep.

Race for 4th-5th Place

Unnamed&Untamed vs. Nemesis--

Good to have these extra races to give the fans more. Nemesis has had two pretty good runs while Sturgess fell just short to the strong running Nasty Boy. Sturgess pulled a wheelie of his own off the line while Shae's Nemesis never moved. Breakage on Nemesis means Unnamed&Untamed picks up the gift win. Winner: U&U.


Nasty Boy vs. Carolina Crusher--

Nasty Boy looked very good in Round 1 and Crusher had been dominate so far. The flag dropped and again problems in the right lane as Nasty Boy never moved.  Harper blasted down the track, transmission just hanging on, and into the finals. Winner: Carolina Crusher.

Maximum TORC vs. Beast, take 2--

The trucks would be in the same lanes for this re-race but would the results be the same? Off the line Holman pulls yet another wheelstand launch but this time he kept it straight over the hill. Neff stuck right with Beast on the other side and poured it on to the finish and they flew across the line with some great air and the trucks were door to door yet again! Beast looked to me to have snuck ahead at the end and thats the way it was called. Winner: Beast.

Monster Truck Finals!

Beast vs. Carolina Crusher--

The two trucks/drivers who will be the top contenders fighting it out for the Winter Nationals points title and the pair of trucks you knew you wanted to see in the Finals. Harper was down to 2nd gear only while Beast still seemed locked on after his defeat of TORC. The tension was high as they staged to the line. RPM's went up and the flag dropped. Holman ripped his biggest wheelie launch yet, carrying it over the first hill and into the flat. Harper was dead on the flag as well and powered over the first hill keeping even with Beast. Crusher took a bit of a bad bounce allowing Beast to get just ahead as they flew across the line. A very fast race! Winner: Beast.

Monster Truck Freestyle

Enough with just playing on the hills, it was time to mash some metal! A car-van-van-car pyramid was setup in the left corner at the end of the track for the trucks to have fun with. Besides that, they could use the hills as well to try and get some air. Donuts would not be allowed as on Friday night Harper sent some dirt flying way too far. Nemesis would not freestyle due to breakage.

Nasty Boy-- Ronnie Sturgess got the first crack at the fresh cars but didn't capitalize too much on his advantage. Sturgess took a rather conservative first hit, I thought, and didn't get the truck to stand up anywhere near vertical. Sturgess mashed the vans down and swung back for another hit on them. This time he hit the stack with a bit more speed and got the front up a little bit higher. Sturgess brought Nasty Boy back for his last jump and attacked the cars very aggressively grabbing some good air. A good opening run but it was going to take a bit more to be freestyle champ in Cape. Score: 4.

Unnamed&Untamed-- "Psycho" Sam was up next and had to show Ronnie just how you stand a truck up. Sturgess popped the truck up perfect on the cars and walked it all the way across with an awesome rolling wheelstand. Sturgess brought it back for a second shot at the cars and pulled another excellent rolling wheelie. On Sturgess's final jump he approached the cars with a lot more speed than before and wasn't able to get the truck to stand up and roll across. Just more of a low jump across the stack. Two sweet wheelstands though. Score: 5.

Maximum TORC-- Neff was strong in racing and his freestyle performance here last year was top notch. Neff blasted out of his pit spot and started by getting some good air off the right lane hills then came to the forefront and lined up the pyramid. Neff cleared over the cars with an alright jump but on the landing popped up a sweet slap wheelie and carried the truck way down the track. Neff roared around the track and took on the hills again before coming to the stack. Neff shot over the cars with a great jump but couldn't get the wheelie to come up. He swung TORC around quickly and went for the cars and this time got some great air, bouncing up into another slap wheelie and carried it further down the track than before. Neff pulled to the middle and saluted the crowd after that great run. Score: 8.

Carolina Crusher-- I first must apologize to you and to Michael Harper as I screwed up the pictures of his run. I was unsure if the film was advancing correctly in the camera, so I opened it up, exposing all the shot film of his run only to find that it was working properly all along. I closed it back up and managed to get a few shots of the last part of his run. Harper showed no mercy to the cars or to his transmission and pushed Crusher to the limit on each and every jump getting some awesome vertical air and distance, clearing the stack just about everytime. You could tell he wanted to rip off some donuts but no no :-( Harper inprovised and mixed up his run by hitting the cars in reverse twice which the crowd got a big kick out of. Harper parked it ontop of the stack and saluted to the crowd. Awesome run that I wish I had more pictures of. After that freestyle performance, the tranny was done for. Score: 10.

BEAST-- The final truck to take to the track was Bobby Holman in Beast. Holman wasted no time in making himself noticed and roared at the stack of wrecks and launched a huge near vertical jump, cleared all the vehicles with the front end in the air the whole time. The back tires barely grazed the last car on the way down. The crowd went nuts after one jump but Holman wasn't finished. He roared the truck back for another hit and GET BACK! A massive 90degree vertical launch, clearing all the cars and then some. The bed panels were smashed in on the side after slamming into the ground. I was hoping Holman would do more but he ended his run after the two jumps. The crowd gave him the freestyle win based on those big jumps but I'm going to have to disagree. Yeah, the jumps were awesome but just two hits and calling it good won't win it in my books. Score: 7.

As the show let out, Jackie just wasn't going to leave without getting a picture of her by a truck. Beast was in an opportune place so why not?

The other Sturgess truck, the ride truck Boogie Monster, was busy giving rides to a long line of people waiting. Ed Beckley asked Jackie if she'd ever rode in one and when she said no, that was all Ed needed to drag us over to the line and throw us on the truck! It was a pretty good ride which we both enjoyed.

After the ride, Jackie and I headed over to where Carolina Crusher was parked and met up with Rich Inman who was busy takin' the tires off. He was getting some parts for his new truck from Harper so he was trying to work some of the bill off hahaha. Harper wandered back from signing autographs and he was kind enough to let Jackie hop up into the cockpit for a picture. But then he tells me to "go get on the roof!" I looked at him like he was insane but said sure! So I carefully maneuvered my way up the side of the truck, stood ontop of the engine and crawled up onto the roof. I about fell off a few times as my shoes were slick, covered in tranny fluid from the floor. Mike took my camera and clicked off a great picture for us.

The Cape Girardeau show was great and I enjoyed getting my first look at a different style of racing format. HUGE thanks to Ed Beckley for allowing Jackie and I into the event and for our passes. As well as for trusting me enough to let me roam the floor pretty much where ever I wanted to get the best pictures possible. Thanks to Rich Inman and Michael Harper as well and thanks to you for stopping by once again.