After watching Monster Jam World Finals 6 on television, I immediately thought of the events I attended throughout the course of the winter season in monster trucks. I will recap those thoughts and also preview a summer that looks very promising as well in this week’s column.
With the recent airing of World Finals 6, I had a number of thoughts and reactions, the first of which was how our current Racing and Freestyle World Champions displayed the parity in our sport. Anyone can win at anytime, and it has not always been that way. Madusa simply drove the cleanest and smartest races all night en route to her racing title, and the same can be said of Creten in freestyle—smarts won out on this track, not necessarily the loud pedal. In freestyle, it seemed that many drivers fell into a trap of never wanting to back up, no matter what, and it hurt a few of the runs, including Tom Meents and Dennis Anderson, who even mentioned in his interview that, “…maybe I should have backed up.” Madusa and Creten simply did everything available to them with regards to the sloppy track conditions.
Looking back on the events I attended during the winter season, the same pattern showed itself—parity. Randy Brown swept an entire weekend of racing and freestyle in Kansas City, Missouri, and followed that with an absolutely amazing freestyle run in Indianapolis for another win. Guy Wood took a well-deserved racing win in one of the best all-around shows I attended in a long time. That event will be one to watch on Speed Channel.
From there it was on to St. Louis, Missouri, where Meents and Anderson would face off, with Meents taking his second event sweep of St. Louis in as many years. It was simply one of his best seasons ever racing-wise. Coming into Vegas, the only time he “lost” was when he had some sort of mechanical trouble. Going undefeated for a season isn’t too bad, and that is just about what Meents did, minus the mechanical gremlins. Meents would meet mechanical failure the following weekend in Minneapolis, Minnesota, leaving the door wide open for Anderson, who took an event sweep of his own, including one of the longest freestyle runs ever witnessed (only his allotted 90 seconds were used for scoring purposes).
Four weekends, four winners. It seems that the days of the “Big Two” will have to be reconsidered after this season. Everyone has a legitimate shot now, and I don’t see that changing anytime soon. Some interesting trends emerge with the change in season, and one of the largest is sure to be Monster Jam’s return to Europe. I found it interesting that Chad Fortune had one of his best seasons ever behind the wheel of Superman this year after getting a bunch of extra seat time on the Europe tour last year. I look for some drivers to do what Fortune did last year and use that extra seat time overseas to their advantage when 2006 rolls around.
Summer is traditionally more relaxing for many competitors, but it is also a time that many of the innovations we see during the “main” season come about, and where many drivers get their start. Team Meents’ newest driver, Kevin Lewis, was still crewing when West Lebanon, New Yorkrolled around last year, and he recently bested a field that included Pablo Huffaker’s Grave Digger in Fresno, California. It looks like Meents has found another Paxton, Illinois native who can drive. It will be interesting to see who will be this year’s Kevin Lewis as the summer season unfolds.
There is never a lack of monster truck action anymore, and there will be no exceptions this summer. Will Mark Hall in Raminator defend his Monster Nationals and Special Events/ProMT championships? What young guns will get their big chance?
How will Monster Jam’s return to Europe do, and who will it benefit the most? How will Madusa and Jimmy Creten react to carrying the Champion titles? All of those questions will be answered during a summer season of monster trucks that is sure to be one for the history books.
Questions, comments, ideas? E-mail Robert