For the first time ever AllMonster.com was able to cover the Thompson Metal Monster Truck Madness at Bristol Motor Speedway last Saturday. With a top notch facility like none other and a strong field of 8 trucks the stage was set for a spectacular event on the infield of “The Last Great Colosseum.” Both of last year’s winners were in attendance as Dan Runte and Bigfoot 18 took the racing victory in 2013, while hometown hero Randy Moore and the War Wizard claimed the freestyle win last year in a cheer off against Steve Sims and the Stone Crusher. The targets were on their backs with some tough competitors behind them aiming to take victory this year.
Early on in qualifying the track wreaked havoc on trucks and drivers alike as many teams were scrambling following their qualifying passes to make repairs or adjustments. As the first qualifier Bryan Wright and Walking Tall got out of shape in no-man’s land, tagging a dumpster protecting the infield scoring tower, nearly sending the truck over. Travis Petri and Toxic were next out and almost found themselves on their lid after clipping the bus stack in the same lane. Petri cranked the wheel hard and was able to save the truck from what looked to be a sure rollover. After making the final round of racing last year, Brandon Budd and Red Solo Truck had high expectations, but they would encounter transmission problems halfway through the course. Young Gun Steven Sims and Hooked were on of the first pairs to make a relatively clean pass over the course with an aggressive approach to the course, carrying a lot of speed and sliding into the turns. Reigning event winner and 25 year veteran Dan Runte was calm and composed, and took Bigfoot 18 to the top spot in qualifying. The local favorite War Wizard’s night came to an unfortunate end early as a broken camshaft just after the finish line would take out defending freestyle champion Moore. As the last driver out Steve Sims turned in a strong pass with the Stone Crusher but wasn’t enough to knock Runte from the top qualifying spot.
As round one got underway it was clear that qualifying took a heavy toll with several trucks unable to make the call. Tommy Powers and the Stone Crusher crew thrashed to replace a magneto but didn’t have enough time to do so before round one. Equalizer and Red Solo Truck both fell victim to transmission problems and would be unable to return until freestyle. The first pair of the semi-finals was the most memorable and wildest race of the night as youth went against experience as Steven Sims took on Dan Runte. The opposite driving styles were a clear contrast as Sims ran on the ragged edge while Runte was smooth and consistent. Sims was in the hunt until the final turn as he came in hot, sliding out around the turn. Knowing the slip up might cost him Sims was hammer down to the finish, but couldn’t straighten the truck out before the first of two jumps on the final straightaway. The truck kicked over hard to the left, but Sims was able to keep the truck on all fours. The save sent him off course in the process and lined him up in front of the freestyle bus stack, and he soared over the obstacle. While all this was going on Runte sailed Bigfoot to victory and into the finals. In the other semi-final race, it would be Walking Tall picking up the victory after Toxic was unable to get both front tires up the final ramp, resulting in a five second penalty. The final round was all Runte and Bigfoot as the duo were flawless in the final race of the night, taking the victory over Walking Tall.
Bryan Wright and Walking Tall would kick off the beginning of the freestyle competition with a strong performance. Wright has taken a liking to Maxie Broaddus’ ride during his time as a fill in driver after his King of the Beach title earlier this year in Virginia Beach. Wright went after everything on the floor, getting some big air over the bus stack and an elevated van stack. The strong run was finished off as Wright hit a pile of stacked cars a little crossed up, sending the truck onto it’s sidewalls and over onto the roof. The score would be a solid 22 points to open competition, but Wright was disappointed rolling the truck and causing some damage in the process.
Few drivers have impressed as much early in the career like Steven Sims, and his freestyle run in Bristol would be a statement run, as he pushed Hooked to the absolute limits. “They better bring it. I want the freestyle win. I’m going to go out there and burn it down tonight,” said Sims earlier in the afternoon. As the second driver out Sims knew it would take a lot to win from that early in the competition and didn’t want to leave anything to chance as he put on a relentless freestyle run. With the biggest air all night, coupled with some huge sky wheelies and a ferocious intensity, Sims was off to a blistering start. The huge wow moment of the run came after a huge hit over the van stack bounced the truck over onto the roof and back onto all four wheels. Sims didn’t let up even after the rollover and continued with the same frenzied pace, soaring over the obstacles and shedding the hood of the Escalade in the process. The run impressed fans and judges alike as Sims and Hooked would take the lead with a score of 28.
Travis Petri and Toxic would be next out and turned in a great run of their own. While the performance wasn’t as wild and crazy as Sims, Petri certainly didn’t disappoint as he attacked the track hitting the bus several times and getting some great air along the way. With the brakes glowing Petri kept going and getting bigger air with every hit before wrapping up the run with a smokey donut on the asphalt. The Equalizer Racing team battled back from transmission problems in both Equalizer and Red Solo Truck to turn in good runs of their own. Both Budd and Hawkins got some good air over the bus stack and vans but didn’t have enough to knock Sims from the top. Racing winner Dan Runte and Bigfoot put on a good run as they were the first to go after the car stack after it turned over Walking Tall earlier in the evening. While Runte was strong with some big air of his own, he just didn’t have the wow moments to contend for the lead.
With just one driver remaining, it seemed fitting that the last person to dethrone Steven Sims from the top spot, would be his father Steve Sims and the Stone Crusher. After losing freestyle in Bristol by a cheer off the year before, Sims wanted some redemption. The elder Sims knew just what it would take after watching all the previous competitors, and he gave it his best shot with a crazy run of his own. Steve left it all on the table with some huge air of his own, rivaling that of his son Steven’s, as well as a huge slap wheelie after a crossed up hit over the bus stack. As the Stone Crusher came to a stop, the judges scores were announced and it would be a tie with 28 points. Officials left the winning decision up to the fans in a cheer off, and it would be Steven and Hooked getting the win from the crowd. Despite being beaten the second year in a row in a cheer off, Steve was grinning at the result and congratulated his son with a hug following the decision.
A big thank you to MTX Event Production for their hospitality during the weekend. We look forward to coming back to Bristol in the future. The next event for the MTX crew will be one of our annual favorites, the Circle K Back To School Bash at The Dirt Track at Charlotte Motor Speedway on August 9th. Keep an eye out for updates across all our social media accounts on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram for the latest in Charlotte next weekend.