Article By Chris Allen - October 9th, 2009
Every year at the beginning of
October, for 12 years running, 12 of the nation’s fastest monster trucks and
most talented drivers gather at the small central California town to,
temporarily, turn the town into their warzone. Yes, the West Coast Monster Truck
Nationals are back in town, courtesy of the biggest monster truck championship
in the world, the MLMT.
This year’s monster truck racers will consist of Darren Migues and Bounty
Hunter, Joe Miller driving Iron Outlaw, Rick Long driving Black Flame Bigfoot,
Dan Runte piloting SnakeBite, David Smith and King Krunch, Daron Basl and El
Matador, Don Frankish in Maniac, Gary Schott, Jr. behind the wheel of Jurassic
Attack, Jon Zimmer in Amsoil Shock Therapy, Chris “Panda” Ryan driving
Excalibur, Mike Papis in Tropical and Thunder Andrew Peckham with the Patriot.
Several traditions happen at the WCMTN. In particular, Red Bluff’s resident
redneck, Hillbilly makes his annual Red Bluff appearance and the monsters take
over the main street of Red Bluff with a parade of very loud proportions gets
the weekend started in style. And, as usual, Sunday is Crush Out Breast Cancer
day, with all participating trucks receiving a pink flag of the same charity.
The parade was followed by an autograph session to close out the night.
Every now and then there comes a truck and driver that come to a town or city
for the first time and leaves a lasting impression. On the opening night of
competition of the West Coast Monster Truck Nationals, Jon Zimmer, debuting in
Amsoil Shock Therapy here in Red Bluff, would not have it easy but would leave
that lasting impression on the Friday night crowd. Also, according to David
Smith, a King Krunch ride truck is on the way, so watch out for that. This
year’s WCMTN racing clourse has the trucks starting at the same end of the track
side by side, racing over a large dirt jump, making a hard hairpin turn and
soaring to the finish line over a set of crushed cars: a J-Hook race track.
In qualifications, valiant efforts were made by Dan Runte in Snake Bite, Gary
Schott, Jr. driving Jurassic Attack and Joe Miller in Iron Outlaw. However, the
fastest qualifying time went to Chris “Panda” Ryan. But that was short lived
when in the opening heat against Andrew Peckham and the Patriot, who could not
qualify due to mechanical issues, suddenly put him on the trailer. Another upset
was Daron Basl and El Matador taking out Rick Long in Bigfoot. The other races
were Jurassic Attack defeating teammate Don Frankish and Maniac, Snake Bite
dethroning King Krunch, Bounty Hunter shocking Shock Therapy and Iron Outlaw
beating Max Papis and Tropical Thunder. This was not the end of the night in
racing for Jon Zimmer, though. Why? The 6 winners, Patriot, Jurassic Attack, El
Matador, Iron Outlaw, Snake Bite and Bounty Hunter and the two fastest losers,
Excalibur and Jon Zimmer in Shock Therapy moved on to the second round. The
second round winners were Zimmer, Iron Outlaw, Dan Runte and Darren Migues
driving Bounty Hunter. The two trucks who punched their ticket to the finals
were Snake Bite beating Bounty and Shock Therapy defeating the Iron Outlaw. The
first night’s racing title would go, ironically, to a truck that had lost its
first round race, Jon Zimmer and Shock Therapy.
Freestyle was equally exciting. Early runs were well done by El Matador,
Excalibur and Tropical Thunder. King Krunch was unable to take his turn at
freestyle because of a broken transmission. It was also a frustrating night for
Andrew Peckham in the Patriot, who lost front steering after a jump over an SUV
sitting on top of a 15 foot mound of dirt. Business picked up when Jurassic
Attack came up. That excellent run was followed by equally good runs from
Bigfoot, Snake Bite and Shock Therapy, the last of which blew a tire with about
30 seconds to go. The final freestyle of the evening was reserved for Migues and
Bounty Hunter. The evenings winner was a tie between Shock Therapy, bounty
Hunter and Jurrasic Attack. The weekend winner will be determined tomorrow
With still Saturday night’s and Sunday afternoon’s races to go this weekend,
there is still time for some participating teams to put a winning effort. Will
that effort come from another team, or will Jon Zimmer make it 2-0 in racing
tomorrow? Stay tuned to find out. By the way, I don’t think we’ve seen the last
of that talented Dan Runte or his monstrous Snake Bite, don’t you?
With an impressive 1-0 streak to his
credit, Jon Zimmer entered the second night of competition here at the WCMTN at
Red Bluff more than ready to rock and roll. Bu the other drivers had darts at
the ready and aimed at the target on Zimmer’s back. It was to be a long, hard
road back to the final round, but, with Amsoil Shock Therapy in tow, Jon Zimmer
Fastest qualifier King Krunch and David Smith suffered the same fate as Chris
“Panda” Ryan in Excalibur the night before; he was atop the leader board in
qualifications only to lose in the first round of eliminations to Jurassic
Attack with Gary Schott, Jr at the wheel. Also like last night, there was a race
between teammates. In this case it was Joe Miller’s Iron Outlaw versus Darren
Migues and Bounty Hunter, the latter of which would take the win. The other
round 1 wins were made by Dan Runte in Snake Bite, El Matador’s Daron Basl over
Maniac and Bigfoot’s Rick Long sending the Patriot with Andrew Peckham to the
trailer. Fastest losers Patriot and King Krunch also advanced to the second
round. Patriot won his race against Jurassic Attack, Snake Bite over El Matador,
Bounty Hunter beating Tropical Thunder and Bigfoot dethroning King Krunch. Snake
Bite went on to the finals after his race against Patriot, who would be joined
by Bounty Hunter after downing Bigfoot. In the finals there was no clear leader
off the start line or over the first jump. Going through the final turn at the
far end of the track Dan Runte was able to keep Snake Bite from rolling over but
it cost him the race. Bounty Hunter took the racing title!
Freestyle proved to be as unpredictable as the racing competition. Good runs
were made by Tropical Thunder and Mike Papis, Rick Long in Bigfoot and El
Matador, the last of which got good air several times and hit everything on
track. Mechanical problems continued to haunt Don Frankish in Maniac, keeping
him from running in freestyle. Things got more exciting when David Smith,
looking to make up for his embarrassing multiple defeats in racing, got lots of
air and did cross threads, or sideways moves over obstacles. Snake Bite gave a
great effort and it did not go unnoticed. But then came the big test: could
Migues over come Snake Bite? The fans sure thought so.
Two different races, two different racing champions. Two freestyle competitions,
two different freestyle champions: Jurassic Attack and Bounty Hunter. Who will
win all the marbles at the big show on Sunday, October 04, 2009, which happens
to be the annual Crush Out Breast Cancer Day?
The final day at the WCMTN ended the weekend with a real bang. So far there had
been two days of racing, two racing champions and two freestyle competitions,
one winner and one tie. Fans expectations were high, but the drivers were ready.
As always, the final day was also Crush Out Brest Cancer Day. There was a whole
lot of pink in evidence in the arena, including the shocking pink hair on the
head of Darren Migues!
Mechanical problems held back the Patriot and Andrew Peckham so Bounty Hunter
and Darren Migues had a bye run an easy road to the second round. That was
followed by the upset of the weekend as Gary Schott, Jr. and Jurassic Attack
took out Bigfoot and Rick Long. Then, right away, another stunner came in the
form of Excalibur and Chris “Panda” Ryan upending seasoned veteran David Smith
and King Krunch. The other wins in the opening round were Mike Papis and
Tropical Thunder taking out Iron Outlaw, who had steering problems (which would
also kept him from freestyling), Daron Basl and El Matador sending the Snake
Bite truck back to the snake pit and Maniac with Don Frankish shocking Jon
Zimmer and Shock Therapy. Shock therapy would get a second chance in round 2 as
one of the two fastest losers. Round 2 saw Bounty Hunter continue his winning
ways by taking out the other fastest loser, Dan Runte and Snake Bite, Jurassic
Attack downing Excalibur, El Matador beating Tropical Thunder and Shock Therapy
defeating Frankish and the Maniac. After motor problems kept Jurassic Attack
from running the rest of the day, nothing could stop Bounty Hunter from going to
the finals for the second time in three races. He would be joined in the finals
by Friday night’s Racing Champion Jon Zimmer and Shock Therapy. Shock Therapy
ran hard and had a good run, but the win went to Darrin Migues and the bounty
Hunter. Having acquired points by qualifying well and winning the most races,
Bounty Hunter was crowned the year’s Undisputed Monster Truck racing Champion!
All weekend long, an Quad team from Los Angeles and the team from Red Bluff had
been battling it out in quad war action. In a 2 of 3 series, whoever won on this
day would take it all. The team from the Hollywood City had supposedly done so
when the Red bluff captain admitted to being illegally BLOCKED! therefore, a 1
on 1, 2-lap-grudge match was declared. With the entire crowd behind the home
team, it was just enough to defeat the big city opponents, who would have to
return to L.A with an embarrassing loss on their hands. Freestyle had good runs
from Excalibur, Tropical Thunder and Bigfoot. Snake Bite took to the track one
more time and had an excellent run. Despite an incredible effort from Migues and
Bounty Hunter, Zimmer and Shock Therapy was declared this year’s Undisputed
Monster Truck Freestyle Champion after hitting the van stack in the middle of
the track and shearing off the right rear tire on landing.
A special mention should be given to the Firestorm Monster Ride Truck team. They
came all the way from Canada again this year to provide rides to any and all
Monster Truck fans who wanted one. They started when the gates opened and ended
long after the Monster Truck freestyle was over. They are a great bunch of
hard-working guys helping to put on a great show experience for the fans.
We will see you next year at the 13th annual West Coast Monster Truck Nationals.
Same time, same place. If you attend, you will go home with memories you not
soon forget, I guarantee it.
- Story By Chris Allen, Photos By Jim