Check out Bari Musawwir’s all new blog from this past weekends event in Fargo, North Dakota. Bari gives us a great inside look at his time in Fargo, where he got a chance to interact with many great fans, read to children at a local library, and drive El Toro Loco in three big events at the Fargo Dome.
Back in late 2010 when I got my first glimpse of my 2011 Advance Auto Parts Monster Jam Schedule of events, my eyes immediately focused on Fargo, North Dakota! Why you ask? Well its simple, being that I live in Orlando, Florida, I thought to myself, I better start looking for some winter clothes pretty quickly, if I’m going to have any shot at making it through the sub zero temperatures of Fargo. I checked the weather in the week leading up to the Monster Jam at the Fargo Dome, and much to my surprise the weather was actually supposed to warmed up to a the mid to high 20’s at night and low 30’s during the day for the duration of my stay. When I arrived in Fargo Thursday afternoon I had to head straight to my Display at Casey’s General Store in Dilworth, Minnesota, which was about 15 minutes away from the airport in Fargo. I arrived around 3:15pm and my Crew Travis and Scott were already there with EL Toro Loco, signing autographs, taking photos, and doing Monster Jam Prize drawings. I got a chance to meet some die hard Monster Jam fans throughout the entire time inside the store. The Casey’s General Store staff was great to work with, and we had a blast. They told me I couldn’t leave without getting a Casey’s General Store temporary tattoo, and before I knew it they had it plastered on my neck!
Once we had given everything away at Casey’s we headed back to the dome to drop off the trailer inside, to let the Crazy Bull sit inside and warm up before unloading it the next morning. I went to get checked in at the hotel, and then met the gang for dinner at Laddy’s Grill. There we met up with the tech crew and some of my fellow competitors, Mike Vaters with Black Stallion, Trey Myers with Iron Warrior, and Candice Jolly with Monster Mutt Dalmatian. It’s always a good time to share stories and jokes before all the Monster Jam action starts.
Friday morning I caught up with my team mate Rod Schmidt and his Family and we headed out for an awesome breakfast at Perkins. Once we were stuffed we made our way back to the hotel to hang out for a bit. I decided to see if there were any hobby shops around town to go and visit. It’s always fun to see what cool finds you might come across when your somewhere other than your local hobby shop. I ended up at Hobby Hut where they had a small selection of RC trucks, but a wide variety of all sorts of different hobbies from plastic models to train sets.
After returning from my hobby shop outing, I figured I would make my way to the stadium to check out El Toro Loco and the track layout. I decided to continue my aluminum polishing ritual that I started in Little Rock, and was able to get the motor and exhaust pretty shinny on the old Bull. Before I knew it, it was time to go do some media for the local news and head to the local public Library to read to some eager children! Candice Jolly, promoter Heidi Irvin, and myself made our way to the library around 3:30. Once we reached the library I did a quick news interview, and then we walked into a room full of kids that were waiting for me to read to them. Ironically the book that I chose out of the four to pick from was named Truck Town Smash Crash by Jon Scieszka. The kids loved the book as it had a reoccurring punch line of “Smash and Crash” every few pages, and I was able to get them to participate in saying it with me when it was time. I will tell you why this book has some significance to my weekend shortly.
After I finished the book, Candice and I took photos and signed autographs with the kids, and then we headed back to the Fargo Dome to get ready for our drivers meeting. Once the meeting concluded we had about an hour to chill out before we made our way back onto the show floor, where we drew numbers out of a hat with veteran announcer Scott Heaton to decide our racing bracket line up. I picked out number 4 in the 8 truck field which had me face off against number 5, Trey Myers and Iron Warrior in Round 1. But before racing started we kicked the show off with a wheelie contest. I went out 3rd and was able to grab the lead with a score of 22, until Nitro Circus and Bounty Hunter were able to score 24’s respectively. My team mate Rod Schmidt went out last, which is no easy task, because by then the cars are smashed down pretty good. Rod was able to bring home the win for our team with a 26!
In the last match up in round 1, I was able to take out Trey and Iron warrior. I moved on to round 2, to face Cam McQueen and Nitro Circus. He was able to get by me after I took a bad bounce which caused me to have to make a wide turn in the final lap. Cam would go on to win in the finals over Dawn Creten in Scarlet Bandit. After racing I set my sights toward freestyle. I wanted to go out and announce my presence right off the bat. I stormed out of the pits, hammer down all the way across the floor, and lined up for the biggest jump on the floor and aired out El Toro pretty good.
After that it was game on, I tried to keep up as much momentum as I could from move to move, and was able to take the lead with a 21. I was pretty happy with the run, as I held the lead for a few trucks until Candice Jolly laid down a great run and scored a 24. It was World Finals Veteran Jimmy Creten in Bounty Hunter who would show us all how it’s done scoring a 28 for the Friday night freestyle win!
Saturday we had a full day planned with a pit party at 11:30 am and two shows, One at 2pm and then again at 7:30pm. I had a great time meeting all the great Monster Jam fans at the pit party. We got things started with the wheelie contest where I scored a 28, second only to Rod and Grave Digger who won with a perfect 30! I ended up drawing Jimmy Creten in Round 1 and I gave it my all , but Jimmy is just on another level, a level that I hope to be on one day. Jimmy went on to take out my team mate Rod and Grave Digger in the Finals.
Once racing was over I set out to see if I could match, if not better the freestyle run I did the previous night. Well I did just that. I felt so good about the run, I made the last corner and saw the countdown clock winding down to zero, and my first thought was to just stop and call it good. Well something else inside me said man just go hit that last jump for the fans, so I did. Well this is the point where the truck and track were out to teach me a lesson. I hit the jump square and straight but as soon as it left the ramp, I knew when I hit the ground I was going to have my hands full. While in the air, I had time to think, “Ok Mr. BAM how are you going to get yourself out of this predicament?” The truck landed hard on the right side, and rebounded back to the left side, so I decided to gas on it thinking the front wheels were on the ground, so I could power out of the rebound. Well before I knew it I had gained too much speed on just the left rear tire, which sent the truck into a sideways one wheel slap wheelie. It came back on all four wheels for just a split second, but by that time I was so crossed up that the truck’s momentum just flipped it on its side in the blink of an eye. It happened so fast, and I was just along for a wild ride. Thanks to our great safety equipment and ISP seat, I emerged from the truck with nothing hurt but my pride. I never have any intentions on rolling the truck, especially with one more show to go later that evening. Remember earlier when I said I would tell you why the title of the book I read to the kids at the library was ironic, well this is exactly why. I “Smashed and Crashed” pretty good. Once I saw that I had broken a horn off the Crazy Bull, I went and grabbed it off the floor and a sharpie from announcer Scott Heaton and told him “Scott I’m going in the crowd to give this to a lucky fan”. I autographed the horn and set out for the stands to find an El Toro Loco fan. That was a blast, just hearing the crowd’s reaction lifted my spirits.
While I was in the stands, the track crew and dirt crew proceeded to move the wounded Bull off the track, only to have the front axle come completely off the truck. At that moment I thought “Oh wow, how are we going to fix this before the next show?” The true talent, experience, and dedication of our team was about to be put to the test. We devised a plan led by my veteran crew chief Travis Howard and Scott Bennett to get it back together. After the show was over I got a chance to look at the extent of the damage, and it was pretty devastating to say the least. We got some much needed help from some members of the tech crew, Trey Myers from Iron Warrior, as well as Alex and Squirt from the Monster Mutt Dalmatian and Nitro Circus team. After we did the post show autograph session, my team mate Rod Schmidt and myself were hands on as well. We were able to bring the tractor trailer in the building to make it a lot easier to get the parts we needed which saved a lot of the time it would have taken to run parts back and forth. Once they got the front axle re-attached, two new shocks on the driver’s side front corner, and the drive shaft in, I thought to myself, “Wow, this is incredible how much work the guys got done in about 2 and a half hours.”
As the doors opened and the early fans started to come in, Travis pulled the semi outside, and Scott fired up the big bull and tested the RII radio, steering, and brakes and pulled the truck over into the pit spot! For me that was a huge victory for us to even make it back, so I was determined to put on a good clean show for the fans, but still keep the truck together. After the power rush intro’s, I got the feel of running the truck around without the front clip and new shocks. I went out 3rd in the wheelie contest and scored a 17. In racing I drew red hot Cam McQueen and Nitro Circus, who was having a great weekend. I was leading the race up to the last turn when I tried to go around the turn a little too fast, and ended up looping it around too tight, and I got into the turning van, handing him the win. In Freestyle, I could tell the truck was landing harder with the spare shocks on so, I went out to try and put in a good clean run, and ended up taking the lead with a 21 and finishing 3rd behind Nitro Circus and the winner Grave Digger.
After getting back to the hotel, I was able to watch some video footage of my rollover, and was able to see exactly what the truck was doing from the outside, and compare it to what I felt behind the wheel. This helped me learn what I did wrong, or could have done differently. You have just a split second to make a proactive decision on what to do. I learned that I may have gotten a little too ahead of myself with the throttle, and next time I will give the truck a moment to take a set on its own, and then see if I need to help it out with the throttle. A lot of the veteran drivers just said I took a bad bounce and there wasn’t too much I may have been able to do to save it. Nonetheless, I have a good idea of what to do if I’m faced with that type of situation again, and I’m sure I will be sooner or later. I’m looking forward to my next Advance Auto Parts Monster Jam this weekend in Denver, CO at Pepsi Center, home of the Denver Nuggets. And speaking of the Denver Nuggets if you’re in town on Thursday evening, come on over to the Pepsi Center, myself and El Toro Loco will be on hand for a display at the Nuggets game as they do battle with the Dallas Mavericks! For more information on the Denver Monster Jam visit: http://www.monsterjam.com/Tickets/2011/02/12/Denver,_CO/