Home Sweet Home...or is it? In any sport there is always a home town or home field advantage and the same can be said for monster trucks. As a fan traveling from state-to-state to see events, I cannot help but feel like a "visiting team" when walking into a strange venue or arena for the first time or anytime really. There is a great sense of familiarity and comfort when I travel to events near my hometown and no event should bring those feelings better than the Kane County Fair event, a mere 6 minutes from my house. But, what should be a great time and situation to look forward to, has been marred by conflict and anger for the past 2 years.
In 2003, the monsters returned to the fairgrounds for the first time in over 5 years but the start of a new trend was hampered by the horrendous severe weather the area received shortly after the start of the event. You can never do anything about the weather, and as you know it never plays favorites with me, but I hoped the following year would bring better luck.
2004 did bring luck...bad luck, and a whole slew of other crap with it. Insane camera restrictions, arrest threats and psychotic security guards all out to ruin a good time and they succeeded. No pictures that I actually could take were ever posted on the site and I still have yet to scan in the only two good shots I have from the event. It was a terrible night in terms of organization and on top of it all the show was weak minus some decent jumps by Bigfoot and Nemesis. Would 2005 FINALLY be the night that my hometown and I would be privileged enough to see a good, complete and enjoyable show?
I took all the necessary steps to ensure I would be allowed to shoot pictures at the show and after going around and around in circles to get cleared for access, upon arriving in the grandstands come to find that the "NO CAMERAS ALLOWED" policy was now out the window! Go figure. Hell, they were even allowing video cameras this year! This is one town I've never been happy to say I'm a part of and still don't have a reason to. Regardless, the sky was clear, the trucks were set and it was time to get things rolling!
Bigfoot #14-- Dave Harkey
This was Harkey's second trip to Kane County and the first time I was able to lay eyes on the beautiful Bigfoot 30th Anniversary body. Harkey dominated the last time he was here and again he is the favorite to win everything.
American Thunder-- Robert Miller
Miller has been at all three events now and with three different looks to his truck. In 2003 it was Web Slinger, 2004 it was American Thunder but with different lettering and now the current version of American Thunder. Miller has been very good at this venue and hopefully will keep the momentum alive for this year.
2Fast2Furious-- Ron Stanwood
Stanwood has bounced around from team to team over the past couple of years and now finds himself in another truck for the Phantom Motorsports team. Stanwood was very strong when I saw him run in 2002 but was unsure what to expect from him this time around.
Cyclone-- Chuck Sisson
If there is a Mr. Perseverance award in monster truck racing, this guy gets it. Sisson and his family lost everything they had in a house fire several months before this show including his Cyclone truck. With the help of Phantom Motorsports, Sisson was still able to compete in events with this temporary truck and has done an exceptional job of adjusting to the circumstances and a new ride.
The track setup was the usual two lanes of cars with no ramps but it was cut down even more this year to just 4 cars per lane. Freestyle would be first on the schedule to beat the cars down for racing later in the program.
American Thunder-- Miller would get the first crack at the fresh cars to try and make an impression on the crowd. Usually it doesn't take too much to get these people excited. If a truck rolled out there and just crawled onto the cars they would cheer. So to them, this run by American Thunder had to look amazing. Miller took six hits total on the track but never was able to muster up much air or anything really decent. Popped a couple little wheel stands and then spun the tires just to try and get up onto the cars. Slow and dragged out run. Score: 2.
2Fast2Furious-- Stanwood brought his monster out next and was ready to top what Miller had done but the truck was having problems staying fired. Took a few tries before it remained running enough to get some jumps in. Definitely better wheel stands than what was shown by American Thunder but still nothing to be impressed by. Stanwood popped the front end straight up on the near set but he could not get the back tires up onto the cars and had to back off and try again. Another slow and struggling run to say the least. Score: 3.
Cyclone-- I have seen Sisson drive twice before in his first super long-wheel based Cyclone truck but both performances were short lived due to damage. The first time he did not do much at all up at Rockford Speedway and then the second time he blew the doors off everyone in Harrisburg, Il a few years ago but the awesome Qualifying pass left the truck crippled. Up and down and now with a new truck I did not know which Sisson I would see this time. Chuck came out firing and was the first guy to really hit the cars at full speed and was the first truck to get some sizeable air under the tires. He went for a slow rolling approach on the next hit but could not get the truck to respond to his liking. A couple more smaller jumps back and forth before unloading the biggest hit of the day so far with a near vertical launch on the far set that really riled up the crowd. Not a bad little run for Sisson in the makeshift Cyclone. Score: 6.
Bigfoot-- The King of the Monster Trucks and the billed main event for this show rolled out next. Dave Harkey in Bigfoot was going to show the competition and the fans why Bigfoot still reigns supreme after 30 years. Harkey blasted out of the pits and went right for the near set and started the run strong with a great leap across the cars. Over to the far set and Harkey shot Bigfoot straight up and down in the air clearing the rear tires past the first car and planting them into the second and walking the truck off the set! Awesome jump and already the people were going insane. Harkey went far, far away from the approach the other three trucks used and instead kept the peddle down for nearly the entire run. He spun Bigfoot around at each end of the track and blast into the cars without missing a step. Harkey gave us what we came to see. An all-out, high speed car-wreckin' run and ended it with a final leap clearing the near set and then saluted the crowd who were on their feat! Score: 10.
All the trucks would get a pass down each lane of cars in preparation for the final event, racing. 2Fast2Furious and American Thunder did not have very good attempts and were #3 and #4 in the bracket. The battle, and I do mean battle because it was actually close, came down to the last pass for Bigfoot and Cyclone. Sisson had the quick time with just over 2 seconds until Harkey rocketed off the line, let off the gas at the cars and then quickly was back on the throttle to fly across the cars and off with a sub-2 second run. It was just a guy with a stopwatch "timing" the runs so take it for what its worth.
Now, this show should not have ran more than an hour at most but someone felt the need to shove a near 20 minute intermission into the mix. Needless to say over 1/2 the crowd left and the sun was pretty much gone by the time they decided to start things back up again. There was some intermission entertainment though...
The cigar-chomping guy in the yellow shirt who was playing the roll of track crew on the night decided to take like 5 or 6 checkered flags and go hand them out to some kids. Bad idea. Kids see free stuff, they will kill you until they have it. Below you see the idiot trying to explain that there are 30 kids and he only has 2 flags left. Yeah....nice plan, sir. Eventually he gave them up and somehow escaped the teeth and fingernails.
RACING ROUND 1
The racing course was pretty simple: Hit the gas quick and get over the four cars before the guy in the other lane. The pictures below are not too great because I forgot to bring decent batteries for my flash so it would not fire in succession for each picture therefore resulting in some very dark shots.
American Thunder vs. 2Fast2Furious-- Miller got a great jump in the far lane and hit the cars about the hardest he had all night. Real nice leap landing on the fourth car and taking the win. Stanwood never got the momentum going and was barely in the air by the time Miller was taking the checkered. Winner: American Thunder.
Cyclone vs. Bigfoot-- What had the potential of being the best race of the night turned into a blowout. It looked like Cyclone threw something out of the drive line right at the start which handed the win to Harkey has he kept it extremely low on the cars and took the easy win. Winner: Bigfoot.
American Thunder vs. Bigfoot-- Harkey was poised to take his second complete sweep of the Kane County show and it did not take much to seal it. The trucks left the start pretty much even but when they hit the cars, Bigfoot went forward and American Thunder really did not go anywhere. Not enough power behind the Chevy and the big blue Ford claims another win. Winner: Bigfoot.
Harkey cut loose with some extra donuts in the slimy dirt to celebrate.
If the fair wanted a cheap mid-week grandstand event that involves a few trucks smashes cars for their already lackluster county fair, then I suppose they have achieved their goals for the past 3 years. If they ever want to put forth a quality monster truck event that will keep people coming back year after year, then they need to move away from the Bigfoot vs. The World philosophy and invest in better production, promotion, organization and especially safety. The grandstand area is not the best place you could imagine to put a monster truck event and definitely needs upgrading in terms of safety and plain ol' common sense before something tragic could happen. Too many people wandering around the place when trucks are running, no protection and untrained track crew all equal a bad situation.
Thanks for reading the coverage, only wish there was more to share.