September 6th, 2003
In the fall of 2002, I was able to hit numerous shows all the way into late October. But this year, none of those shows took place with companies and promotions no longer in business. Therefore, there was only one stop this fall for an event down here near St. Louis and that was to Washington Missouri for a show put together by the Washington Jaycees. Another bummer about this year was that the Gateway R/C Team wasn't doing any shows but I grabbed Dane and he came along with me for the journey. He helped with some shots for this coverage as well. His are the brighter shots (you'll be able to tell) from his digital camera. Big thanks to him for videoing Freestyle for me too!
We hit the road around noon and rolled into Washington about 1:30pm just in time to catch Big Dawg and Scorpian King at their dealership displays.
A radio station was on hand at the Ford dealership where Big Dawg was and a DJ put Doug Noelke on the air by phone to promote the show at the fairgrounds later in the day.
Larry Swim was just next door at the Chrysler dealer with his Scorpian King truck. I talked with Larry for awhile and showed him some pictures from Joliet. He showed me that a picture of mine of his truck was swiped from the MonsterPhotos site and used on the poster to promote the show! Never did hunt down someone to yell at them for that. Dane and I were busy drooling over a new Chrysler Crossfire when we realized the Big Dawg team had packed up and Big Dawg was being transported to the track by a flat bed. We decided we should follow but with Wal-Mart just next door, I had to stop by and check the toys :-) They had nothing, so we hit McDonalds and go some hot, fresh Buttery Biscuits! LOL! Ain't that right Dane! Trust me, you should of been there. Anyways...we stuffed our faces and headed to the track.
The Washington fairgrounds was set way back in the middle of a suburb and some crazy winding roads but finally we found the place after several wrong turns. We grabbed our gear and headed on in. The trucks were still showing up from their displays with Monster Patrol getting unloaded and the Wild Hair hauler pulling in. After they all were setup, Dane and I strolled past the combatants to get some shots.
Big Dawg--Doug Noelke
Scorpian King--Larry Swim
Wild Hair--Jason Witte
The Extreme Team ride truck was on hand too but behind it was
Monster Patrol--Kirk Dabney
Bad News--Bruce Haney
What I thought was just going to be a relaxing day at the
fairgrounds for a simple show got turned upside down when I found out that there were
HUNDREDS of 2wd and 4wd pullers that were suppose to be a part of the show! Not only
pulling but a rediculous amount of stock tuff trucks. Brenda Noelke was telling me stories
of previous years where the truck pullers would run nearly all night and then the monsters
be stuck at the end of the show that ran past midnight! I certainly didn't want that and
with the first action starting early in the afternoon, I had my fingers crossed.
The stands had started to fill up so Dane and I decided to plop a seat on the finish line and get ready to go racing!
I have no pictures of the tuff trucks nor of the pulling because, well frankly they bored the hell out of us while we were left wanting monster trucks and baking in the sun. The tuff truck drivers didnt know the course, totally unorganized. Doug Noelke put it on himself to run the show format but he can't do everything folks! The truck pulling was a little better ordered but just way TOO MANY pullers and it sucked up too much time. After at least an hour the monsters finally ran their Quaifying passes. But no one even knew because the announcer was too busy blabbing about something else.
The straight line track was layed out on some very tacky dirt that would allow the trucks to hook up really well off the start line. First jump was a sharp two car roller with ramps on both sides then a quick no-mans-land into the final jump of four cars. No times were announced for the runs, but from what I could venture, Big Dawg and Scorpian King were probably the fastest of the 5.
A few of the drivers were getting a head start on freestyle after their Qualifying runs. The final jump for the tuff truck course was in between the two racing lanes for the monsters and provided some good jumps off the backside as the trucks were heading back to the pit area.
After Qualifying, we were doomed to more pulling and boredom so Dane and I tried to wake ourselves up by strolling around the limited show-N-shine area. There were some really, I mean REALLY sweet trucks there, some that should be winners at 4-wheel jamborees. Don't know why niether of us took any shots as we should've. After some mindless wandering, we went back to the stands for some racing!
Racing Round 1
Monster Patrol vs. BYE-- Once again the crowd was not informed as to what was even going on and it wasn't until Monster Patrol was done with his run that it was noted there was a monster truck on the track! Not sure why Monster Patrol was given the BYE run, but in any event, it would be his only run down the track as after coming off the first jump the truck hooked hard to the right only hitting the ramp of the second set and went diving into the tuff truck hills before stopping. Don't know if something broke or what on the truck but Dabney would not be running the truck in racing any more. The other 4 trucks went into a Round-Robin format.
Bad News vs. Big Dawg-- The first jump on this course would be a big telling factor on who came out the winner. It was a very steep roller hill that promised to be a challenge to get over smoothly. Both trucks hit the gas off the line about the same time but it was Noelke in Big Dawg who rolled the jump perfectly, carrying the front end all the way over while Haney bounced around a bit. I wasn't counting Bad News out yet as that huge top end speed was about to be unleashed and Haney started reeling in Big Dawg as they hit the second set. Both trucks went smooth over the final set but the lead for Noelke was too much for Haney to overcome and fell about a truck length short. Winner: Big Dawg.
Scorpian King vs. Wild Hair-- This may be the first time these two trucks have ever matched up against each other, if anyone knows of another time, please tell me! Both of these trucks are very powerful and have two wacked drivers behind the wheel that never hold anything back. Both trucks bolt off the start in a hurry with Wild Hair pulling a power wheelie up and off the roller! I thought that would spell defeat but Witte kept the truck moving very quickly as Scorpian King was right with him. Witte held a lead to the cars and got a big jump off the ramps clearing the cars and beating Scorpian King by a half truck. Very fast race! Winner: Wild Hair.
After more monsters....well I think you should know by now. Notice how bright the light still was in those last pictures? Well the length inbetween the other stuff and monsters will become very apparant when you see the next ones.
Racing Round 2
Scorpian King vs. Big Dawg-- In the second round of this format, the winners would take on the losers from round 1. This match was going to be a good one. Two hard runners, two fast trucks and two good friends. Larry Swim drilled Noelke off the flag and had a lead off the roller with Big Dawg right on his heels. They flew to the second set in a hurry and both sailed over the cars smoothly with Scorpian King still out front to snatch a 1/4 truck length win. Winner: Scorpian King.
Now here's where stuff went a little crazy. They never did announce a winner for that race and with it being so close, niether Dane or I knew who won. But we figured that whoever came back for the Finals would've won it. I didn't find out it was Scorpian King that had won until I talked to Brenda Noelke much much later. So still not knowing who won, I was looking down in the pits when I saw a big burst of flames shoot out from the engine in Scorpian King! Larry was still in the truck and quickly jumped out and grabbed fire extinguishers along with other drivers. I did not know what was going on but didn't have much time to think about it with the next race headed to the line.
Wild Hair vs. Bad News-- No power wheelie off the line for Witte and he was behind at the line too as Haney took the quick hole shot and had the lead up and off the roller. But then something let go in Bad News and Wild Hair cruised on over the cars and took a rough landing but the win. Winner: Wild Hair. Not sure what happened to Bad News
After the race, Dane and I took off over to the pits to try and see what was up with Scorpian King. We couldn't go down by the trucks but stayed up the hill by the haulers. Larry and B.J. were doing the 100yd dash back and forth from Scorpian King to the hauler several times to get tools. B.J. was in a hurry and all I got out of him was that something let go in the engine. Everyone continued to work on the truck in hopes of getting it ready to run for the Finals. But that was not to be as the problems were not fixed in time and Big Dawg was sent to the Finals against Wild Hair. It would be a hometown showdown with Jason from Washington and Doug from Union which is only about 10 miles south. Let's settle it!
Big Dawg vs. Wild Hair-- The drivers pulled the trucks up to the line where B.J. Johnson staged them up. The engine's rev'd up and the flag dropped! Noelked mashed the Big Dawg for everything it had and blasted over the roller hill which he certainly did not roll over. He LAUNCHED over it never even touching the cars. Witte fell behind quick with that big jump in the other lane but was not giving up. Into the flats and Noelke had already cleared half of it with his initial launch. He took one quick bounce and was at the ramps with Wild Hair right on his tail. Witte hit the ramp sideways not getting a good jump while Big Dawg flied over the 4 cars like they weren't even there and took the win! Winner: Big Dawg. Excellent race.
As another endless class of pulling was hookin' up, a bulldozer was building up that center jump for monster truck Freestyle. Along with that, the end car from each final stack was being pulled to make a car-mini van-car pyramid up in the far right corner of the track. All the trucks were fixed and ready to rock so here we go!
Scorpian King-- The engine problems were fixed and Larry Swim was ready to cut loose on the fresh track and he wasn't about to let a fresh pyramid just sit there for someone else either. Larry cruised down passed the crowd first then headed up to the pyramid for his first hit. He didn't have much speed for it and stood the truck right up on its rear wheels with the front end smashing down the minivan. He slide off the right of the pyramid and took a route down the tuff truck hills. One of the double jumps kicked the rear wheels up and sent the truck into a big nose dive but Larry drove out of it and hit the next jump. With fresh cars to hit as well, Larry pulled some good wheelstands off them and also continued to beat that pyramind into the ground to where the minivan was no longer a factor. A good opening run by Scorpian King. You can see a video clip of his first jump and nosedive in the Other Midwest Shows Video Theatre.
Bad News-- Last time I saw Bruce run some freestyle, the truck was covered in mud with a Superman like tarp flying off the back. That would be from Monroe of course where he couldn't do too much with the horrid conditions. I was hoping some donuts would get thrown into the run but I guess on the packed clay/dirty they weren't going to be happening. Haney had plenty of good jumps on every set of cars with an especially good wheelstand on his second jump. He kept the momentum flowing throughout the run too and went a good while.
Monster Patrol-- So far Kirk Dabney had only been on the track for a total of about 10 seconds. Kind of different when Freestyle is a driver is still feeling out the track! But in a way, I think he was actually doing that....After a few jumps going forwards over the cars and what was left of the pyramid, Dabney said forget the normal stuff and decided to mix it up a bit. Dabney crawled Monster Patrol across the far set of cars and then slammed the truck in reverse and flew the truck over the cars! Oh I love it! The crowd was eating it up as well with kids ooooooing and ahhhhing all over the place. Dabney wasn't done yet with that as he came over to the near set and did the same thing getting even bigger air this time. He tried again with the forward jumps with no luck and went right back to what everyone wanted. He lined up on the near set, rev'd the engine, pumped up the crowd and mashed the gas in reverse and cleared the three cars and the ramp with a huge reverse wheelstand. He pulled up and waived to the crowd who gave a very big applause for his run. You can see a clip of both is final reverse jumps in the Other Midwest Shows Video Theatre.
Big Dawg-- Freestyle was about to get a swift kick in the tailgate as Doug Noelke blasted full tilt onto the track in Big Dawg. This was what a Freestyle run should be all about: crazy momentum, all over the track and a wide variety of jumps. About half of my shots of his run turned out like crap which really makes me mad but I think I captured it pretty well still. Noelke started with some mangling of the now pancaked pyramid from both directions. He hit the far set of cars and then kept his speed up heading to the roller and blasted over that with a HUGE leap landing almost in the pit area. He came roaring back into view and headed down the center of the track towards the big hill and shot off it just enough to bounce up a slap wheelie, carrying it all the way down the track and stopped within inches of taking out a bulldozer! Noelke went back to work on the cars with more great jumps and then went crazy just cutting across the track at all sorts of angles hitting the rollers and tuff truck hills from the side. Another slap wheelie was in order plus more good air off the cars before Noelke wrapped up the run. A giant ovation awaited Doug as he pulled Big Dawg up to the crowd.
Wild Hair-- They had already battled it out in the Finals, but now Witte would have to battle Noelke for the Freestyle victory as well. Witte didn't hesitate and went right to work on the cars getting some great air, sticking the front end way in the air and carrying the back end with it. Witte tried for a slap wheelie off the center hill but never could get one. He tried several times throughout the run which definately slowed his momentum and hurt the run in my view. But if a slap wheelie doesn't work, why not a power wheelie? Witte pulled the Wild Hair onto the truck pulling surface and I heard this weird noise I'd never heard out of a truck before. It was a 2-step transmission in Wild Hair that I didn't know about. Witte rev'd it up and turned Wild Hair loose with an incredible power wheelie down the front stretch that sent people wild. Witte turned the truck around and pulled another crazy power wheelie down the track too! More wild jumps on every set of cars from all angles getting more great air under the truck plus some good distance everywhere. At one point Witte took a turn way too fast and the truck hooked up on the packed dirt and bicycled on two wheels before coming back down on all 4s. Witte's two last jumps were very strong over the far set and then the roller which the landing knocked the grille off the front of the truck. Witte parked the truck sideways on the flattened pyramid and saluted the crowd. Wild Hair was voted the Freestyle winner by the fans but I'm pretty split on the decision myself. Great runs by both Big Dawg and Wild Hair in Washington. You can see Wild Hair's two power wheelies in the Other Midwest Shows Video Theatre.
After the monster action was complete you really think the night was over? Of course not! The tuff trucks kept going and so did the pulling. One bad note was that the first tuff truck back out did not remember that the final hill had been built up quite a bit and launched off it pretty hard enough to where the driver was injuried and had to be transported to the hospital. Dane and I stuck around for at least another hour talking to people and the pulling showed no signs of ending either.
Big Thanks go out to just about everyone that was a part of the monster truck action...Big Dawg personale (thanks for the flashlight Brenda!), Jason Witte, Kirk Dabney, Larry Swim and B.J. Johnson. Also thanks again to Dane for coming along and doing some camera work for me, wish I had more people that could come along to shows and help out. Having said bye to everyone, it was time for us to hit the road back after having a very long day. The monster truck part of the show was very good and it sucked big time to have to wait a rediculous amount of time to get to the monsters as that's what people were really there to see anyways. Thanks to you for stopping by again, Jason Twite.