July 22nd, 2003
Less than a week removed from the rain soaked Kane County Fair, I was off to try and redeem myself and shoot some pictures that would actually turn out at the Paul Shafer Motorsports show in Grayslake. Plus, no better way to escape the work-week hassles than hit the road for some local county fair monster trucks. Last year I'll never forget as I was attacked by a bear...foot that is. This time I decided to play it safe and stick to the grandstands. Steve Maver had tagged along with me last year but he could not attend this time. Instead, Eric Stern arrived at the show so me and him picked a spot and got ready for some high flying action from the 6-truck field.
The Mummy--Bill Wirth
Boogey Van--Brian Townsend
Monster Patrol--Dave Harwood
Ozz Monster--Brian Harwood
One quick note on Brian Townsend--this is his first event back after taking nearly 3 years off from the sport of monster trucks. The last and only other time I saw Brian drive was right before he took that time off at the first Valparaiso event. Brian's run there is probably most remembered for this:
Brian flopped Boogey Van on its side in
Freestyle back in 2000 and I was anxious to see what would happen this time around.
The arena for the monsters here is way too tiny as motocross takes up the big track. All the monsters had to work with was a set of 4 cars. The show would be divided up into a Wheelie Contest and then Freestyle. Each truck would be allowed 4 hits (rediculous) for the Wheelie Contest and the trucks would go 3 vs. 3 with the crowd picking the winners and then the final two battling. In Freestyle it would be all 6 against each other but even that didn't turn out the way it was suppose to.
**Note: you will see signatures and parts of signatures on some of these pictures. They were signed by the drivers a month later in Valparaiso.**
Bearfoot-- Richard Patterson would get the first crack at the fresh cars. Fresh they did not stay. After his intial hit, the cars were toast and not much of a wheelstand out of Bearfoot to go with it either. Patterson hit the cars from the other direction and got a much better jump but still no where near vertical. Patterson hit the cars two more times but never got anymore big air.
Ozz Monster-- Harwood had two things working against him already. 1. With the two bigger motors damaged from races earlier in the year, Ozz Monster was only running a 460ci 1100hp engine. 2. The cars were about 2 feet high. But Brian wasn't about to let either of those factors stop him as he roared the Ozz Monster onto the track and hit the cars nice and hard getting air under all four tires and almost cleared the cars. Harwood used alot of speed on his next jump and easily cleared the four cars with some crazy sideways air. Harwood hit the cars from that side again and popped a nice wheelstand. One more jump and he was finished. Good run for Ozz Monster.
The Mummy-- Bill Wirth tore onto the track and wasted no time attacking the cars and putting Mummy into the air with a nice jump. Wirth was not one to use the brakes in this run and whipped Mummy around and got another good jump off the other side. Wirth seemed to be building momentum and it showed on his next jump as he really aired out the truck getting some great air and sticking the front end way up. Wirth turned around to go the other way and pulled a mirror image of his last jump. At this time I ran out of film but Wirth decided he hadn't had enough and blasted over the cars for a 5th time getting some crazy air and nearly hitting the trucks parked at the other end. The first Wheelie Contest winner: The Mummy.
Frankenstein-- Paul Shafer kicked off the second half of the Wheelie Contest and started with a great first wheelstand on what was left of the cars. Shafer's third jump didn't garner much air but back on the other side Shafer stood Frankenstein up nicely again. The right side of the cars were not being friendly to Shafer and he never got a good jump off them. Probably not the run Shafer was looking for.
Monster Patrol-- It has been many of years since I've seen Monster Patrol #2 in action. It is one of the few front engined trucks left running on the circuit but with Dave Harwood behind the wheel, it doesn't matter where the engine is or who he's up against. Harwood started on the left side of the cars and quickly got some crowd reaction with a great wheelstand, slamming down to the ground very hard. Harwood hit the cars from the right side but didn't get as vertical, just more distance. Possibly the best wheelstand of the day...Harwood rolled up to the cars and just stomped on Monster Patrol for all it had and stood the truck near completely vertical and carried all four tires in the air over the entire set. Incredible jump! Harwood followed up with another excellent wheelstand and easily was the crowd pick so far.
Boogey Van-- Brian Townsend quickly made it known that he had no rust from taking 3 years off. He rocketed Boogey Van onto the track and at the cars with a very hard hit and cleared all four cars like they weren't even there (which depending on how you look at it....yeah haha). Townsend seemed to like that side of the cars as he took his next two jumps from that right side and cleared the cars on every jump, something none of the other trucks did and I think that is what really got the crowd behind him. Townsend's final jump was on the left side and he let the big van fly! Huge leap over all the cars again and he got the nose way up as well. Perfect leap. He hit the ground hard and nearley slapped a wheelie up as well. If I were the judge on the best Wheelie, yeah Monster Patrol would take it, but the crowd was won over by the big leaps of Boogey Van and Brian Townsend takes the second Wheelie Contest win.
Wheelie Contest Finals
The Mummy-- Maybe after seeing how the crowd reacted to the long jumps of Boogey Van, Bill Wirth changed his game plan. From the wheelstands in the first round, Wirth was going for big distance this time around and achieved that very well. Each truck would get two jumps and Wirth took one from each side of the cars and cleared all four on his final jump. Wirth was still able to keep the truck a good height in the air as well. Two great jumps.
Boogey Van-- Brian Townsend had all the momentum going into the finals and he carried it over perfectly. I totally blew the shot on his first jump but he aired it out like no other and cleared the cars easily with a ton of air and slammed to the ground hard. Townsend's final jump was on the left side and he got a huge running start and put the big van in orbit with a crazy launch over the cars and cleared half the shutdown area and stopping within inches of the other trucks. HUGE jump and the crowd went bonkers. Wheelie Contest winner: Boogey Van.
For freestyle, well, there wasn't much out there obviously. There was the remains of the four cars plus that little extra car sitting on the side for Draco to munch on at the end of the show. But would the trucks get adventurous? We'll see...
Bearfoot-- Patterson needed something big to start off Freestyle and thats exactly what he did. He lumbered Bearfoot to the far left side of the track and lined up the cars from a ways back. He hit the gas and absoluetly launched Bearfoot over the four cars and beyond! Bounced once and stopped the truck right in his pit area. 1 massive jump and that was it....why? The truck his so hard that the shocks bent and that was it.
Frankenstein-- Paul Shafer brought Frankenstein out next, circled past the cars, and pulled back to the pits. I don't remember what Paul said was wrong with the truck, may have been the blower belt or oil pressure. Either way, no run from Frankenstein.
Ozz Monster-- With the first two trucks bombing out quickly, Brian Harwood had to do something to put some life back into the crowd and Freestyle. He started strong with a nice leap over the cars from the left puttin' the big skull up in the air. Harwood then got creative and turned down the other side of the cars where that little extra one was sitting. Harwood attacked the lil Geo a bit awkward but got a nice jump off it and a big applause. Harwood went after the cars a couple more times and wrapped up the run.
Monster Patrol-- Now it was the other Harwood's turn as Dave rolled out Monster Patrol for Freestyle. Harwood continued the big air from the Wheelie Contest as he started with a nice long jump from the right side. Harwood lined Monster Patrol up from the other side and stuck the front way up in the air with another huge wheelstand and cleared the cars easily. Harwood slammed the heavy front down pulled up a slap wheelie! Stupid speaker pole! Harwood laid down another nice long jump on the cars and turned back for another hit from the left. Great wheelstand again and slapped up another short wheelie! Of course I had accidentally flicked the camera off! Two excellent performances by Dave Harwood in Monster Patrol.
The Mummy-- Bill Wirth had a Wheelie Contest loss to avenge in Freestyle. Wirth started with a beautiful jump from the left side getting good height and great distance with a ton of speed. Wirth took it easy on his next jump and just floated over the cars from the right side but he had something else planned next. Wirth lined up for the extra car on the side and hit it with a ton of force and aired out The Mummy with some huge air and distance and slammed down to the ground very hard. Wirth took another nice jump over the cars to finish up his run. Great air from The Mummy all night.
Boogey Van-- ...And then there was one. Brian Townsend has already made an impact on his first night back and the only person he has left to top is himself and why not go for it?! Townsend roared out of the pits, cut a quick turn down at the left end, never even hesitated and slammed into the cars with another massively (is that even a word? well it is now) insane jump. Townsend hit the ground hard and bounced up a huge slap wheelie to top it off! He rode the wheelie out as far as he could before having to stomp on the brakes. Townsend wasted no time in following up that jump and launched Boogey Van over the cars further than he had all night, nearly hitting the cement barriers at the end. This guy is on fire! Crowd is goin' nuts and I'm trying to hold the camera still from the bleachers shaking. Townsend had his mind set on the slap wheelie as he approached the cars again from the left side. He cleared the front tires over the cars and slapped up wheelie number two and carried it across the track again! Townsend flew over the cars from the right one more time and lined up from the other side again. He pumped the crowd up before the jump as everyone wanted yet another wheelie out of Boogey Van. Townsend charged for the cars and carried the front end over them just enough and dropped the front down hard again and we're goin' up! The biggest wheelie yet out of the Boogey Van as Townsend had the van straight up and down on the rear tires before riding it out and into the pits. Crazy run even with that small of an area. With the clean sweep of the night: Brian Townsend and Boogey Van. Welcome back Brian!!
Brian Townsend was on kill in Grayslake and I can't wait to see more out of him in the future. I didn't have to wait long as just a month later in Valpo he tore the place up again, that coverage will be forthcoming here on MidwestMonsters. With the limited facilites of the Lake County Fair, the monster trucks have to work hard to put on an entertaining show and even with some trucks having problems, others picked up the slack and the show was a big success. I talked with a family that attended the show several weeks later and they loved it as well and couldn't wait for them to come back. Grayslake is not far from my house in Chicago so it is an easy mid-week getaway for some monsters. Always keep your eyes peeled for these hidden county fair shows coming to towns around you. Thanks for reading and continue to come back for the best and most in-depth monster truck event coverage around! Jason Twite.