Need I say more?
Honestly, no, there isn't a reason to say more than that. You and I both know by now that when you enter Valparaiso you step foot into the path of monsters...LOTS of monsters! From the groundbreaking 13 truck show in 2000 to the wild mud madness of Valpo3, everytime the monsters are in Valpo, you're in for a memorable night of monster truck racing! Let's meet this year's field of monsters that will try and conquer Valpo!
Boogey Van--Brian Townsend
Monster Patrol--Kirk Dabney
Blessed Hellride--Bennett Clark
The Mummy--Bill Wirth
Chicago Outlaw--Rick Busca
Valparaiso is the biggest show Paul
Shafer Motorsports puts together and promotes, therefore he's brought together nearly his
entire fleet of monster trucks to see who is the dominate team player. But there is an
outlier, well, make that an Outlaw! Rick Busca with Chicago Outlaw flat out beat up on
everybody put in his way during the 2003 winter season and expanded to some larger shows
during the summer. He raced here last year on an exact same track layout, I look for the
Outlaw to come away turning heads once again. But I cannot mention turning heads without
Brian Townsend in Boogey Van. He returned to the drivers seat back in Grayslake and took
top honors. He has also raced here before but was ousted by Scarlet Bandit in round one
and then rolled the truck in freestyle. I was looking for a standout night from him as
The track layout was a definite drivers track. The J-drag started with a small jump off the line and then about a 50 foot run to the turn. The turn was more like two in one as the trucks would have to manuever around three barrels. As soon as they were straightened out another hill met them as they headed down the stretch. Then it was the final set of 4 cars on the way to the finish.
I must make mention that I was not by myself for this event as my Dad tagged along being it'd be the last time we could go together for awhile. Plus, Steve Maver of MavsMonsters.com was in attendence as well as Andrew Pellegrine from Monster Truckin' who has done his own coverage on this, his first trip to Valpo, be sure to check it out. We all got to the show with about 5 minutes to spare (man, I've been behind lately) but didn't miss any action.
All the trucks got a qualifying attempt to feel out the track but with this being the 3rd and final show of the weekend, you'd think they would have it down packed by now. Monster Patrol and Bearfoot were the smoothest by far and Bearfoot was indeed the quickest. Chicago Outlaw was smooth also but with no rear steer, the turn was a struggle.
Racing "Round 1"
Just like the previous two shows in August, there wasn't a structured bracket and it was kind of random pairings and got even crazier with breakage and a little extra addition at the last minute that you'll see later.
Chicago Outlaw vs. Monster Patrol-- As the flag dropped, Outlaw got the slight lead over the first hill and used that hidden power to charge towards the turn still with a small lead over Monster Patrol. But technology took over in the turn as Dabney used the rear steer perfectly while Busca had to go way wide to maneuver with the front wheels only. Dabney had a huge lead out of the turn and cruised it easy down the stretch to the win. Winner: Monster Patrol.
Blessed Hellride vs. Frankenstein-- Battle of the wings but it wouldn't be the first. Bennett in Blessed Hellride took a quick lead with a strong jump over the first hill while Frankenstein stayed low heading to the turn. Shafer whipped the longer wheelbased Frankenstein around beautifully while Clark made a very good turn as well. They charged the next hill hard and Clark got a big jump off it and nearly landed at the next jump! Meanwhile Shafer was on the ground making power and passed up Blessed Hellride right at the cars to take the win. Great race. Winner: Frankenstein.
Boogey Van vs. The Mummy-- I totally blew the starting line shot on this one, sorry. Townsend left Wirth by two truck lengths off the line and over the first hill and was strong into the turn. But Wirth played catch up in a hurry and was within a truck length as they spun out of the turn and toward the second jump. Townsend put the peddle down in the big minivan and leaped over the jump and charged hard to the finish clearing the cars with The Mummy falling just short. Winner: Boogey Van.
Bearfoot vs. OzzMonster-- Two of the quickest trucks in Qualifying somehow get matched up in round one, but it should be a great race. A pretty even launch by both trucks but OzzMonster cleared the first hurdle and settle quick while Patterson got some bigger air and was bouncing a bit heading to the turn. Harwood swung the big skull around the barrels perfectly and was hard on the gas very quickly. Patterson in Bearfoot stuck right with him as he made an excellent turn as well towards the second hill. Harwood leaped over the hill and when he hit the ground OzzMonster was gone! Big top end speed from Harwood on his flight to victory. Winner: OzzMonster.
Monster Patrol vs...MONSTER PATROL!!!-- No that is NOT a typo. For the first time ever, at least that I've heard of, two Monster Patrols matched up side-by-side as Dave Harwood rumbled the eldest Monster Patrol out of the pits to lineup against Kurt Dabney in his Monster Patrol. I saw Dave drive this truck in Grayslake and was more than impressed with his skills as well as with the truck for still being very competitive. What shocked me with this is that I saw Dave before the show and he had what looked to be a broken right wrist or hand as it was in a cast. Battle of the winged trucks again and this time it was Dabney getting the hole shot and took a significant lead down the first stretch to the turn. Dabney seemed in control out of the turn when Harwood made his presence felt and pulled the turn quicker than anyone had so far and snatched the lead away from Dabney! They again hit the second hill together but Harwood in Monster Patrol#2 landed perfectly and blasted to the cars snatching the win away from Dabney in a wild race. Winner: Monster Patrol (well duh).
There was a handful of modified tuff trucks in attendance to battle on a nifty but very rough S-course. Robert Hand in Whatever and Rory Cambell in his new Ford Ranger truck were the two big name trucks. They were ok to watch, I don't mind tuff trucks. Paul Shafer also tried to implement mud racing back into his programs. He had a huge mud pit setup down the center of the track and I was hoping for some really good modified vehicles. Nope! Just a bunch of locals who got to go through the pit one too many times and it got VERY boring. Shafer decided to run his own Chevy Silverado street truck through the pit but totally forgot to put the truck in 4WD so he was promptly stuck!! There's your former world mud racing champ for ya! ouch! A Hummer H2 had to pull him out. Nothing else remotely noteworthy with the fillers so its back to the monsters!
Monster Patrol vs. Boogey Van-- Harwood's Monster Patrol beat Dabney's Monster Patrol so Harwood moved on to face Townsend in Boogey Van. Niether truck showed mercy off the line and rocketed over the hill and charged to the barrels. Townsend dove into the turn first and looked to be in total control but the back end got away from him as he tried to straighten out of the turn. Meanwhile, Harwood was picture perfect on this run and after Townsend stumbled he cruised it to the finish with another win. Winner: Monster Patrol. BUT! Trouble arose after this race and mechanical problems would sit Monster Patrol out for the rest of the night making it two-for-two on Monster Patrols sent to the trailer today.
Frankenstein vs. OzzMonster-- Both of these trucks and drivers made perfect runs in Round one and are back in their same lanes. No hole shot either way and they both get over the first hill easily and blast into the turn with no clear leader. Around the barrels they go and its still dead even but Frankenstein starts to inch ahead as they hit the second hill. It was a power race to the finish with both trucks hitting the ramp full speed and getting some crazy amounts of air and distance, sailing way down the track with Frankenstein nearly taking out a fence and OzzMonster coming very close to slamming a big dirt hill. An outstanding race that saw Frankenstein take the win only because of the power factor. OzzMonster had the smallest motor in the field and it was the deciding margin in this race. Watch the video of this race in the Valpo Video Theatre! Winner: Frankenstein.
Blessed Hellride vs. The Mummy-- Yes, both of these trucks have already lost but with truck breakage and truck additions, these two will battle instead. Wirth got the hole shot in the far lane and jumped the first hill smoothly while Clark nose dived it a bit and had to hustle to catch Wirth into the turn. A rediculously perfect turn from Bill Wirth put Bennett even farther behind but don't count the crafty vetern out yet! Bennett blasted towards the second jump and got some crazy air over the hill pulling him even with The Mummy. But the rough landing on the jump bounced the truck slightly off course and Wirth regained the lead as they hit the cars and sailed to the win. Great race! Winner: The Mummy.
All the trucks that were left running or not in the finals would now be turned loose on the track for some freestyle action. That would not include either Monster Patrol nor Blessed Hellride as Bennett coudld not get the truck to fire up for some reason. Extras on the track were a car-van-car pyramid right up infront of the crowd which I thought was cool but a bit on the unsafe side. Also a shell of a '57 Chevy was used but Chicago Outlaw flattened that thing by barely touching it. Also, there was an added extra hill for big air and wheelies.
Chicago Outlaw/Boogey Van-- Rick Busca and Brian Townsend roared their monsters onto the truck for some tandom freestyle. Townsend has been developing the slap wheelie and went right to work on one off the extra hill. He shot the big van way up in the air and landed very hard and tried to pull a wheelie up but didn't quite get it all the way. Meanwhile, Busca was headed to the cars and thundered down on the backsides of them with a crushing hit. Both the drivers circled back and raced down each lane trying for some air off the ramps. Townsend let loose another huge jump on the hill and slammed to the ground and yanked up a great wheelie and carried it pretty well. Busca in Chicago Outlaw attacked the other set of cars with a good jump. Townsend took his own hit on the cars and launched Boogey Van perfectly clearing the cars and the ramp as well. Busca had seen enough of the cars and brought the truck up to near the stands. Busca mashed the Outlaw full force at the pyramid and got some crazy air, using the van as a steel ramp to propel the truck skyward and clear the other car and then some! Rather rough landing in the Outlaw as well. Townsend finished up his run but Chicago Outlaw wasn't through just yet. Busca was headed to the MUD! He blasted down the deep pit shooting mud everywhere an all over the truck as the crowd went wild. Got to love the monsters in the mud! They drove by the stands waiving to the crowd who applauded their performance. Great dual run. Watch a clip of their run in the Valpo Video Theatre!
OzzMonster-- Brian Harwood looked very strong in racing and I was anticipating him tearing it up in Freestyle. Unfortunately, OzzMonster was suffering some electrical problems that had plauged the truck all weekend. Harwood thought they were ironed out and it seemed to be during racing but after one jump over the hill in freestyle, the truck was forced back to the pits. Total bummer.
Bearfoot-- The momentum of freestyle would need some kicking up and the right truck rolled onto the track in the form of Bearfoot and Richard Patterson. Patterson started with a nice jump over the far side of cars and hopped over the roller hills before turning towards the front stretch. He lined up for the pyramid from the right side and blasted over it with a lot of speed and was up 'n' off it in a hurry like it wasn't even there. Patterson leaped over the cars again and then headed for open ground and unleased a great set of donuts throwing dust all over the place, nearly hiding Bearfoot in the cloud. Patterson took on the far set of cars and got some good distance but not much air over them. He then whipped Bearfoot around in the middle of the track and hit the cars from their hoods and came all the way across the track. I'm a sucker for that move. Patterson kept the momemtum flowing and attacked the pyramid again and knocked the van down nearly flat this time. Patterson saluted the crowd and headed off. One of the better runs from Bearfoot that I've seen.
Frankenstein vs. The
Mummy-- Still one little matter to take care of and that's the night's
racing winner. Shafer has been very consistent in his victories over Blessed Hellride and
OzzMonster and has relied on that big power plant to boost his way into the Finals. In the
other lane, Bill Wirth has been consistent also and very smooth especially in the turn.
But he's had a little luck on his side with stumbles from Boogey Van and Blessed Hellride.
Both drivers drilled the start and there was no leader as they cleared the first jump and headed into the turn. Both carried a lot of speed in but could they control it? Wirth made another spectacular turn but Shafer stayed right with him in Frankenstein. Out of the turn they went with Wirth straight and full speed ahead to the next hill while Shafer over powered out of the turn and the backend got away from him. Wirth never backed down and blasted over the hill with a huge jump as Frankenstein was still in the race. Shafer stumbled again over the hill and it was full steam ahead for Bill Wirth as he takes the victory in Valparaiso! A blistering fast race that tested both drivers' skills to the fullest extent. Winner: The Mummy.
The race was over, but there was still more bragging rights on the line as Frankenstein and The Mummy were set loose for another tandom freestyle run!
Frankenstein/The Mummy-- Bill Wirth was still stomping on the brakes down in the shutdown from his winning leap when Shafer was already attacking the cars for freestyle. Shafer started with a good jump over the near set and then cruised down to the far end to setup his next move. Wirth had The Mummy turned back around and he was charging at those same cars and slammed into the side getting the biggest air so far off the cars with a leap that made the truck just float in the air before slamming back to the ground. Shafer was headed right back into sight as he eyed up the pyramid from the right side. Shafer took Frankenstein up and over the pyramid hard and got some good air and was already lining up his next jump. He rocketed Frankenstein off the near set of cars trying to match the huge leap put out there by Wirth. The Mummy was right behind him and soared off the hill with more insane air, smacked to the ground and pulled up an excellent wheelie! Wirth road it out all the way to the hill in the near racing lane where one of the rear tires clipped the hill and nearly tossed The Mummy onto its side but Wirth drove out of it in a good save. Not only did he save his truck, but that of Frankenstein as Shafer was in position for some donuts in the open area. Shafer ripped off a crazy set of donuts totally engulfing the truck in dirt and dust and sending the crowd wild. While Shafer was spinning himself sick, Wirth was lined up for his final hit on the near set of cars. Wirth charged at the cars never letting up and put The Mummy skyward like no one had yet acheived, clearing the cars/ramp and plenty more, nearly landing at the other hill! Massive air from The Mummy to close out the run. Both trucks pulled to the front for a well deserved standing ovation.
Definitely one of the better Valpo shows to date. Great racing and freestyle action again from Paul Shafer Motorsports that I hope continues to be a tradition in Valparaiso. Looking ahead to 2004, a rumor started at this shows is that Shafer is thinking of bringing all 16 of his monster trucks to battle it out in Valpo next year!! If that becomes reality, you can bet I'll put everything else aside to be there and I suggest you make ever effort as well to attend the event. Right now though, still speculation.
After the show, Steve and Andrew had to hussle off but I stuck around and ended up being the last in line for autographs. All the drivers wanted to check out my pictures which I was more than willing to share. Special HELLO to Bill Wirth as he stops by here whenever he can. A big thank you to all the drivers for talking with me and to Paul Shafer for helping solve some mysteries on which trucks he owns/owned. Be sure to check out Andrew's coverage of Valpo to get a first-timer's view on the action. Thanks for stopping by MidwestMonsters once again! Jason Twite.