With so many storylines emerging from the
December 4 Minneapolis Monster Jam, it was difficult for me to focus on one
particular topic of interest. One thing is for sure, monster truck fans
nationwide will be in for a unique season. Here are some collected thoughts from
the first two televised Monster Jams in Montreal and Minneapolis:
The “big two” have had mixed results so far.
Dennis Anderson had Grave Digger XIX running well in Montreal, winning
the racing competition. In Minneapolis, however, Anderson was experimenting with
new Combs 4” triple bypass shocks in the rear end of the truck, and it was wild
all night. Anderson made the final round of racing but lost to Meents when
he bicycled the truck in the final turn. Early ends to his freestyle runs in
both Montreal and Minneapolis should serve as motivation for Anderson when 2005
rolls around. He was not happy at all with the decision the officials made not
to let him continue his run in Minneapolis, and told the fans as much.
Tom Meents had Maximum Destruction
dialed in for racing in Minneapolis. After being a part of Europe’s Monster Jam
tour, any doubts about his readiness were quickly erased in his qualifying run.
Meents had the fast time in each round, peaking at 24 seconds on the
head-to-head-style course. Meents’ freestyle was cut short by a flip that left
him shaken, sitting in the truck for several minutes before finally emerging.
After six world championships, it seems he still has plenty of motivation left.
Meents’ teammate, Phil Foster, had another
solid night in Minneapolis to add to his spectacular racing flip and freestyle
in Montreal. Foster has been a quick study under Meents and is the definite
“number two” guy for Maximum Destruction.
Foster had an outstanding freestyle run
in Minneapolis. He used well over his allotted time in taking on everything but
the largest obstacle on the track, a double box van pyramid. The truck stayed on
all four wheels, but barely. It had the style of a run from Meents, and a rare
slap wheelie included as well. Foster will be one to watch this season anywhere
Another driver on the upside after two good
shows is Brian Barthel. He took Little Tiger to a freestyle victory in
Montreal and had another excellent run in Minneapolis. Had Barthel made it over
the box truck pyramid instead of flipping, he may have had two freestyle wins in
a row. Barthel has always been solid in freestyle, but racing was his game. This
season, he is showing himself to be a contender in both. With so many drivers
flipping early and not filling their time, Barthel has a distinct advantage with
his style of driving in freestyle. Slap wheelies that last the length of any
domed stadium are always a weapon, and they are one Barthel has mastered.
In the final two televised shows of 2004, there
were four different winners (Anderson in racing and Barthel in freestyle in
Montreal, and Meents in racing with Tony Farrell’s Blue Thunder in freestyle in
Minneapolis). Each competition becomes more of a toss up as to who will win, and it is a testament as to just how high the bar is being raised in our
sport. Everyone is running harder, faster, and developing new combinations that
work better at every event. Look only a few years into the past and we see a
huge difference in where the sport was, and where it is now.
The real winner in all of this is the fans, and
if the last two shows of 2004 are any indication, the coming season will be one
to remember for years to come.
Questions, comments, ideas? E-mail Robert