For the first time in 13 years, Bigfoot and Dan Runte returned to the Oceanfront of Virginia Beach to battle it out for the King of the Beach title given to the best overall finisher of the four show weekend. Runte had to face tough competition from local hero Steve Sims and the Stone Crusher along with 7 other trucks. With the first ever George Carpenter Cup on the line, it was an all out battle over the course of three days and four events that left many trucks battered, but Runte and Bigfoot came out on top over Sims and Stone Crusher in a fierce dogfight.
All weekend long Sims and Runte battled it out for the title. Friday night set the tone for the weekend as Sims opened up the competition with a stellar wheelie contest victory that saw the Stone Crusher plant the tailgate in the sand. Runte and Bigfoot responded by taking the racing victory, knocking out Gun Slinger, Backdraft, and Monster Magic along the way to the win.
Freestyle saw several great runs coming from War Wizard, Eradicator, and Gun Slinger. Bryan Wright and Monster Magic came off of a second place racing finish with a strong freestyle run. The rookie definitely didn’t look the part with an aggressive run in the purple Dodge. Newcomer Maxie Broaddus brought out the all new Walking Tall for an exhibition run and had a solid performance. Broaddus and Walking Tall will be a pair to follow in the near future. Following a fellow Virginia native, Steve Sims unleashed the Stone Crusher with a ferocious freestyle run, skying out the truck with several huge jumps to take the lead. Jeremy Slifko soared Backdraft throughout his run in an impressive effort of his own, finishing second in freestyle.
With Friday night in the books, the favorites for the weekend were clearly Stone Crusher and Bigfoot. The two trucks continued their dominance Saturday afternoon. For the second show in a row, Sims took the wheelie competition win. Before the semi-finals the fans were treated to a special moment as the Monster Trucks Unlimited team unveiled their newest addition, Hooked. The Cadillac Escalade-bodied truck was piloted by Steven Sims, son of Steve Sims, who rocked the crowd with an awesome exhibition freestyle. The 18-year-old looked like a natural, showing no hesitation in flying the truck over the bus stacks and racing lanes before a hard landing blew the left side tires off the beads. (Video Here)
In racing, the two weekend favorites, Bigfoot and Stone Crusher, would meet up in the racing finals with a match up of big blue Fords. With valuable points on the lin,e Dan Runte and Bigfoot stood their ground and picked up the victory. Doug Noelke and the Tailgator got freestyle started with a good performance after mechanical issues sidelined the truck the previous night. Randy Moore and War Wizard nearly got into some trouble on the second bus stack when the truck high sided on the top of the bus, and nosed into the ground. Moore grabbed the throttle just in time to save the truck.
While Moore found a way out of his trouble, Andy Slifko and the Eradicator weren’t so lucky. Slifko got a huge sky wheelie over the very same bus, but came down hard on the rear end, resulting in a broken tie rod. Scott Hartsock celebrated his birthday with a solid freestyle run in the Gun Slinger. After a second place freestyle Friday, Jeremy Slifko hoped to improve his freestyle position with Backdraft. Unfortunately, after only two jumps, Slifko lost oil pressure and returned to the pits to discover a broken oil pump.
With just two trucks remaining and room available in the scoring, there were plenty of opportunities for Stone Crusher and Bigfoot to rack up some big points for the weekend title. Sims got his chance before Runte and set the bar high with another great freestyle in the Stone Crusher. Sims left no obstacle untouched as he blasted off of both buses with ease and mixed in some great cross threads over the center hill to score a 27. Dan Runte pushed Bigfoot hard in an effort to best Sims. While he matched Sims in air time with a gigantic jump over the second bus stack, he couldn’t match Sims’ momentum and came up one point shy, giving the win to Stone Crusher.
Following the show, the Monster Trucks Unlimited crew discovered a broken camshaft on Monster Magic that would sideline the truck for the rest of the weekend. Young Steven Sims and Hooked would step up to fill the void in the line up for the evening performance. Saturday night saw a continuation of domination from Dan Runte and Steve Sims. For the third straight time, Sims pulled off the wheelie contest victory. Runte and Bigfoot continued to be the unstoppable in racing, as they moved on for their third straight final round win. In freestyle it was once again all Sims and Stone Crusher, making it three for three on the weekend. As the dust settled at the end of the night, the points standings revealed just how close the fight between Runte and Sims was. Stone Crusher led by just 3 points over Runte and Bigfoot, 225 points to 222 points, with just one more day of competition to go.
Knowing what was at stake, the battle was sure to be intense Sunday afternoon. The drama started just after introductions when Steve Sims pulled the Stone Crusher back to the pits before the wheelie contest with an apparent issue. Unsure of whether or not Sims would be able to compete, Dan Runte walked Bigfoot on the rear wheels to a nice wheelie. Jeremy Slifko and Backdraft raised the stakes with a strong wheelie of his own to make things even more interesting. After Slifko’s wheelie, the Stone Crusher roared to life as Sims pulled out of the pits. When Sims lined up for the cars, he let it all hang out and launched the Stone Crusher skyward, past vertical, and over onto its lid in a spectacular wheelie to take the win. Sims emerged unscathed and the truck appeared to suffer just cosmetic damage. When it came time to answer the call for round one though, the Stone Crusher was unable to pull to the line, opening the door for Runte and Bigfoot to not only gain the lead, but clinch the King of the Beach title. Runte took full advantage in round one by knocking out Eradicator to advance into the semis.
While Scott Hartsock and Gun Slinger were out of the hunt for the title, he wasn’t going down without a fight. Just one year ago he won four straight races in the same event and pushed the Gun Slinger to the limit in a round one race against Jeremy Slifko and Backdraft, spinning the truck around at the end of the track just feet away from hitting one of the bus stacks. Hartsock took that very same approach in the semi-finals as he tried to spoil Runte’s win streak. It was a close race, with the Gun Slinger going up in smoke at the end of the track due to a blown transmission seal, and Bigfoot advancing into the finals. With a chance at four straight wins on the line, Runte faced a tough opponent in Doug Noelke and the Tailgator. The two big Ford power plants hooked up and put the power down, and Noelke played the spoiler by edging out Runte for the racing win.
For the final time of the weekend, the monsters took to the track for freestyle. In just his second day of competition, Steven Sims set the bar high for his fellow competitors. The younger Sims came out charging with a great freestyle run with plenty of big air, and multiple sky wheelies over the racing lanes. After a hard landing on the left rear blew out the tire, he didn’t give up and blasted off the bus stack for just one more hit to finish up a strong performance. Doug Noelke and the Tailgator followed up their racing win with a good freestyle to finish up their weekend. Then it was Dan Runte and Bigfoot’s turn to take to the track with an opportunity to clinch the title. Runte came out with two nice jumps early before lining up to hit the bus at the far end of the track. When Runte went to accelerate before hitting the bus, the truck didn’t respond, as a broken drive-shaft hindered its momentum. Runte tried his best but it wasn’t enough, as the back tires hit the top of the bus, kicking the truck over onto its nose, and endoing onto the roof. Runte was fine, but the truck had seen better days. The bright side was the score of 16 for the run, which was good enough to clinch the title.
After the track was cleared, Jeremy Slifko and Backdraft were up. Although he couldn’t improve his standing in the points, Slifko delivered another great freestyle performance for the fans in Virginia Beach. With a blistering pace, and some of the biggest air over the bus stack all weekend long, the fans appreciated the hard run from the young superstar. Finally, it was time for Steve Sims and Stone Crusher to close out the weekend with one last freestyle. Sims was obviously disappointed at finishing second in the overall points, but still had the chance for a fourth straight freestyle win, and he did just that. Sims went on an all out assault of the course as he launched the Stone Crusher over and over again for over three minutes. Body panels were flying everywhere, but it wasn’t stopping Sims as he attacked everything at his disposal, whether it was the buses, cars, or the center hill. When the truck finally game to a stop, there was no question that Sims had won freestyle.
With the competition over, Steve Sims and Dan Runte met out on the track for the post-freestyle interviews. Sims raised the challenge for next year by saying “He may have gotten the trophy this year, but just know I’m coming for him next year.” The two drivers shook hands before Runte was presented with the first ever George Carpenter Cup, awarded to the King of the Beach winner. It was a hard fought battle all weekend long, and many trucks showed just how grueling it was. Hooked and Gun Slinger both limped back to the trailers with blown tires, while Stone Crusher and Bigfoot had shed a large majority of their bodies. It was a fitting end to a great weekend of competition at the beach.
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