St. Louis Freestyle
Usually the track gets cluttered up nicely before freestyle with
fresh stuff for the trucks and more waiting in the wings once the course has been smashed
down. But this time, the track was going to be slim pickings and innovation would be key
to a good run. The car sets were double stack; far set with fresh new cars, the near set
would be shortened and then stacked. A single fresh car was put over in the far corner for
possibly wheelies but other than that, everything remained the same. The addition of a
car-van-car pyramid instead of those Quad hills would've been a plus. Blame ProQuads.
*There are LOTS of high quality pictures on this page as well as some animations. Therefore, may take some time to load on low-speed connections.*
Wild Hair-- A curtain call usually isn't made at the beginning of the program but that's what Witte was forced to do. Remember, Witte promised to keep it all in one piece and put it in the hauler, could he really do it? And could he end his career on top? Witte went for the biggest thing out there, the bus pyramid, right from the start and didn't hit it lightly either. He leaped Wild Hair all the way to the top, just skimming the roof of the bus with the rear tires and nosed the truck off the other side. He stabbed the throttle and slapped up a perfect wheelie, carrying it down the front stretch. Now that's how you start a freestyle! Witte went right back for the stack again and nailed another big jump into the nose dive and yanked up another wheelie! Jason headed to the far side set of cars and popped up a huge sky wheelie and walked the truck all the way over the set, bounced the front end up right into yet another slap wheelie. Witte cut a tight turn to set up for the single car but the tacky dirt bit back and Wild Hair did a complete 180 on two wheels but Witte made a great save to bring it back down. He passed up the single car and went back to what was working on the bus pyramid. Another good jump over it but no follow-up slap wheelie this time. Decent jump over the far set of cars again as Witte's time was winding down in the run. He went for a finishing move and charged the bus pyramid from the side! The truck went straight up and down sitting on the back bumper with the front just hanging in the air. The front finally came down as Witte hit the gas a bit to really wedge himself into the stack and end the run. Fantastic opening run from Wild Hair and certainly no shame in going out in that way. Crowd loved it and I was standing and applauding right along side a huge group of Wild Hair fans in the next section over. Way to go, Jason! Score: 7.
Devastator-- Mark Schroeder rolled out the Devastator to attack the track next. Infamous on the Monster Jam circuit for his Atlanta 2004 Freestyle, Schroeder has slipped a bit of late in his performances and needs to use this huge platform to put himself right back in the picture. Schroeder burst out of the pits and went for the near set of cars but didn't get much lift off the jump as the throttle timing was a bit off. He went for the single car and hit a good wheel stand but the bounce for the slap wheelie didn't work. Onto the far set and this time Schroeder got the front up in the air and rode the rear tires across the set like Wild Hair did. On the landing, Schroeder dropped the front end and then hit the gas, pulling up a great slap wheelie and rode it out all the way to the end of the dirt. Schroeder worked at keeping the momentum up through the run but once to the jumps did not pull off anything too amazing. Mark took two more hits on the cars and wrapped up the run. Good speed throughout but nothing besides the rolling slap wheelie stood out. Score: 4.
Destroyer-- The next 'D' out of the gate would be Air Man Dan in the Destroyer. Evans has really improved his program for 2005 and has delivered in every opportunity given to him. Evans tore onto the track and went after the far set of cars with a good opening jump then went right for the bus pyramid and took a good pass over it but couldn't match Wild Hair's air so far. Evans circled to the far set again and really hit it hard this time, sending Destroyer off to the side in the air but Dan regained control and then some! He slammed the front end down in an awkward position and yanked up an incredible slap wheelie bouncing from tire to tire on the rear end and ripped the tailgate off the back! Evans held on and brought Destroyer back down to the ground as the crowd exploded with applause. He swung the Chevy around and took another hit on that set and then cruised over the bus pyramid very slowly to set up a reverse jump! I did not imagine he'd line up the bus for the reverser but before I could think twice, Evans put the peddle down and Destroyer went tail up into the air and then sailed over the bus with the front end just catching the top of the bus. Crowd was un-glued by this point and would erupt again as Evans went back around to the same side of the bus but going forwards this time and blasted over the stack, hit the ground hard, and slapped up another wheelie and bounced to a halt down in the corner. Great run from Destroyer that gave him the lead in the crowd scores just barely over Wild Hair. Evans pretty much matched everything Witte did and throwing in that reverse jump certainly helped in putting him over the top. Still, very close to choose a better run of the two in my perspective. Score: 7.5
Scarlet Bandit-- Dawn Creten would make here way onto the track next with a hard act to follow after Destroyer but don't count the fem fatal out yet. Dawn went for the near stack first and cleared them easily but not too much height in the jump. She headed to the far stack and got more air on both ends of the scale. One un-touched item on the track was the Hot Wheels High Jump and Dawn was ready to take it on! Would we see another Houston style wreck? Or Success? She mashed the gas and shot the pink Expedition into the air and cleared most of the dirt ramp way before bouncing to a landing and a big cheer from the crowd. The bus pyramid was next but she didn't really attack as she needed to for a follow-up to her long jump. A real nice leap over the far set of cars and then the truck just coasted to a stop. Sparks were shooting up from underneath what would be the hood area and the source was the batteries. The wires were shot and so was her run. Score: 3.
Hot Wheels-- Guy Wood has always freestyled well in his home town dome and with a new ride and a free ticket to do absolutely whatever he wants with it, Wood unleashed may be incredible. The biggest hit over the near cars kicked off his run and Wood looked to build off it but was having troubles already keeping speed up and managing the new controls. A small jump over the far set before turning around and taking on the set again with a nice jump. But on the landing the truck died out and came to a rest on top of a quad hill. Mechanical failure would give Guy Wood the early exit and not a re-debut show he was hoping for. Score: 2.
Blue Thunder-- Farrell had a wild run in racing but it resulted in a loss. Now he can goes as wild as he sees fit in order to knock down Destroyer. Farrell shot out of the pits and sky'd huge air over the near set of cars to open the run. He kept up a lot of speed to the far side of the track and launched off the far set with another massive air jump but on the landing the rear tire-rod went bye-bye as has been so common on this truck and the run was done. No pic of that jump either as again another freakin' vendor getting in the my way. Score: 1.
Bounty Hunter-- After a few lackluster runs, freestyle would get turned up a notch as one of the most recent consistent freestylers on the circuit, Jimmy Creten would hit the track next in his repaired and ready to run Bounty Hunter. You know Creten wanted the racing victory but he can certainly be a guy to snatch the freestyle win as well. Creten started the run with a strong hit in the bus pyramid, totally clearing the rear tires over the bus. He continued to go for the big air and mashed the gas over the High Jump just barely making it across the gap. Creten nailed a good rolling wheelie over the far set of cars and came around to do the same on the near set. Creten was keeping the momentum up and making a good groove around the course. He exploded over the bus pyramid for a second time with some great air, biggest over it so far. Back to the High Jump and this time he really aired it out and had no trouble clearing the ramps. A final hit on the bus pyramid that sent Bounty Hunter a bit crooked in the air and the off balance got worse on the landing as the truck rocked way up on the right side but Creten stuck his foot in it and brought the Ford back down. Great run and easily snatches the lead. Score: 9.
El Toro Loco-- The other truck that sat out racing, El Toro Loco would rumble onto the track next but it wasn't the only thing coming out on the track. Track crews brought in a fresh camper to be crushed! That thing has Soza's name all over it, ready to gore! And as if there was any doubt what he would hit, Lupe charged out of the pits and went right for the trailer. He launched off the single car in front of it and cleared the front end all the way over while the back of the truck smashed up and through the top of the camper. He walked the big bull all the way over and back to the track and landed so hard that the left rear tire blew off the rim and created an ear splitting BANG! Never had I heard a tire pop so loud in my life and the noise was a exclamation point on the jump. Soza whipped Loco around and went after the trailer from the other side, totally annihilating what was left of it and ripped the front clip off the truck. Lupe was able to keep the truck going but it was not at full strength as he took on the bus pyramid but struggled to get over it. The bull pulled to the right and Lupe kept his foot in it and popped a wheel stand over the crush cars from their trucks and then parked it right there on the hills. Short run but definitely the most destruction so far which the crowd and sadly the judges ate up and gave Loco way too high of a score. Score: 5.
Maximum Destruction-- The racing winner was out next looking to make it a clean sweep on the night. Meents rode down the back stretch of the track waiving to the crowd before opening his run and blasting off the near set with the biggest air on those cars of the night. He headed right to the High Jump and blasted off the ramp with a ridiculous amount of air under the truck. Over to the bus pyramid next and Meents just doesn't know what slow down means and made the bus look invisible as he never touched anything after the initial hit on the car, HUGE air over the stack. Meents got innovative next and showed he wasn't afraid of the awkward and steep quad jump hills. He made a full run down the back stretch hills getting bigger air off each jump down the line ending with a massive leap off the final hill and taking a rough landing, nearly rolling the truck over but made a great save to get control. He attacked the rest of the trailer mess and then went for another leap off the High Jump. The landing looked okay but the wear on that axles gave way and the right rear wheel fell off! As if the crowd wasn't jacked enough, they went totally insane at this point cheering Meents on and he wasn't about to disappoint. He went back over the quad jumps as best he could with three wheels, then across the far set of cars, over the high jump landing ramp, took out one of the flag stands and had the crowd eating out of his hand at this point. I could not hear myself think, the noise was incredible. He just wouldn't quit and took Max D over the bus stack from the back side, ripping the hood off in the process. He tried to cut some donuts but the tack dirt wouldn't have it and with three wheels there was no stability and over the truck went! Max D barrel rolled all the way over and back onto it's three wheels to finally...finally end the run. The name says it all: Maximum Destruction, and that's what this run was. Voted the best freestyle of the season by USHRA and it certainly was worthy of the vote. Score: 10. Meents refired the truck after sucking up the crowd applause and dragged the truck over to the near wall by us where it sat the rest of the night.
Grave Digger-- As if there was any doubt who was left. The one man wrecking crew brought the black & green legend onto the floor to cap freestyle and did he ever have the bar set high in front of him. Anderson started slower with a small jump over the far set and tried to start building momentum as he went for the bus pyramid but didn't get much air at all over it. He headed to the far set again and this time absolutely BLASTED over it and the truck turn sideways in the air and looked to be in for a sick landing. Digger smashed down on the left side tires, dug into the dirt and Anderson smashed the gas to pull the truck back up on all 4s. He went right out of the save and clipped the bus pyramid with a tiny jump trying to regain some composure. The High Jump was his next target as Anderson went as deep into the turn as he could before launching off the ramp with the biggest air of the night on it. The hood of the truck went sailing off during the jump and the fans erupted for that moment. The brake rotors were lighting up as he climbed on the binders to go for what was left of the trailer and scattered junk everywhere as he burst through it. Anderson flirted with disaster again with another out of shape hit on the far set of cars but landed just fine. The brakes again lit up as sparks really started to fly. Anderson passed up all the jumps and came down to the near corner with the sparks flying. He hit a crooked jump off the high jump but avoided any bad landings and headed into the far corner and this time the whole truck lit up in sparks! Totally insane, never seen something like that before either. The crowd was eating it up as Anderson kept on going. He went for the bus again but still couldn't get much air over it. Into the near corner again and the sparks were now totally out of control and shooting into the cab of Digger. Track crew had seen enough and shut the truck off before the sparks potentially injured Anderson. Freakin' crazy! Brakes had to be disintegrated by the end of this run. Besides the sparks and one jump, not all that much excitement to it. Score: 6.
After the conclusion of the show, Doug and his group headed off while Dane and I wandered back to the pits to see some of the aftermath. Wild Hair crew was busy tiring down the truck while Jason was up at autographs. Unable to see him for the last time, I left a note with his crew and bid the team good-bye. Brian Manson and the Bounty Hunter team were also quickly flying into action tearing down both Team CSK trucks. Thanks to Manson for his coordination with myself and Creten with the WMTRL presentation.
Digger looked no worse for ware after that fireworks display only minus the aforementioned front clip. Anderson was still with the truck and slowly heading up to autographs after limping a little bit. Mark Schroeder's crew was well ahead in taking care of Devastator with help from Robby Haught.
Another St. Louis Monster Jam is in the books and it sure had it's high's and lows all to make a pretty solid show. It lacked a real good racing portion but the freestyle performances from namely Wild Hair, Destroyer, Bounty Hunter and Maximum Destruction really picked up the slack. This show was taped for speed and will be great to watch again this fall.
Thanks to Dane Loch, Ryan Seddon, Jason Witte, Brian Manson, Jimmy Creten, Tom Meents, Dennis Anderson, Matt Steele, Ken Hudgens and several people backstage from CCE that helped with our access, I very much appreciate it. Thanks to you for stopping by again and we'll see you next year in St. Louis!