AMP TOUR WINTER THUNDERLAND

JANUARY 20TH, 2007 - McGEE MEMORIAL COLISEUM - AZTEC, NM

By Lauren Z. Bonar

 

Another interesting winter weekend trip for Lynn and myself on our way to Aztec, NM for the AMP Tour Monster Truck Challenge Winter Thunderland event at McGee Memorial Coliseum. Living in an area that does not usually get a lot of snow, we woke up, got ready, and then went out to pack the Blazer only to find about 3 inches of snow on the ground. Three inches of snow seems laughable to most, but living in an area that does not have snow removal equipment or a nice supply of salt for the roads, it can get quite slick. Aztec is about 220 miles from Tuba City and over three quarters of the way was snow packed slick roads. Luckily I grew up and learned to drive in Milwaukee (yes, I am a cheese head) Wisconsin. So driving on the slick roads was no problem, just takes a little longer to get where you are going.

We tried for over a week to find a hotel, but everyone wanted $65.00 to $80.00 for a room. It was like all the Hotel managers knew there was a Monster Truck show in town that night. The evening before we left, Lynn went on priceline.com and got us a room in Farmington for $40.00, a very nice place called La Quinta. So she was able to save a little money on the tab we are keeping for Ross!

After checking in, we left to head over to the Coliseum. Very nice building with a seating capacity of about 4,000. Getting out of the Blazer in the cold, I saw a guy carrying parts to his big rig. I asked, are you Ged Barcroft? He looked surprised and answered that yes he is. I told him who Lynn and I were and we were with TheMonsterBlog.com--now it was my turn to be surprised as he had heard of us. It was too cold to talk long, so we each did our own thing and hurried inside.

When Lynn & I first entered the building we were immediately spotted by Rod Wood, Murph McCrorey, and Charles Benns. It is always nice to see friendly faces walking into a strange environment. We were so early that the AMP crew was still out with stadium officials and security getting everything lined out for the night’s events. I eventually ran into AMP CEO Scott Hart and introduced Lynn and myself. He was busy, but very friendly and quickly gave us the do’s and don’ts, which I always appreciate. We got signed in and now had time to visit and get some information on the previous evenings events and to get to know some of the more unfamiliar faces better.

By now Lynn had met up with Karen McCrorey and they were busy chatting and gossiping in the stands. Rod Wood introduced me to Jimmy Lyons, owner and driver of the Dust Devil. Jimmy Lyons and the Dust Devil are also out of Tucson AZ, as is the Sturges team and Rod with McGruff. Jimmy said he bought the Dust Devil off of Sam Sturges about 5 years ago and that the Dust Devil used to be called the Firefox. That is really all the information Jimmy could give on the Dust Devil/Firefox, but I thought readers might be interested in that little bit of history. Jimmy stated he only ran about 10 events last year and would like to run more this year. For any promoters interested in booking the Dust Devil, Jimmy Lyons can be reached at jimmysmonster@yahoo.com.

Ged Barcroft is an Englishman living in Canada and is the owner/driver of Sheer Insanity. I was visiting with Ged during the Pit Party when a little boy walked up to Ged with his mother. The little boy asked Ged if he ever rolled Sheer Insanity. Ged started laughing and said; son look at that Monster Truck, it has been rolled a number of times!  Ged signed an autograph for the little guy and he was very pleased.

Kathy Wills is the driver of the TNT Monster Truck and the only Canadian female driver. Ged and Kathy stated they had driven over 1400 miles for this event. Kathy also told me this was only her 10th event, but loved driving TNT and entertaining the crowd. She also said she had a discussion with a friend, who was going to start a web site for the Canadian team, so fans of Sheer Insanity and TNT, be watching for that in the future. Very good people and fun to visit with and be around. Here is a picture of Ged and Kathy driving over 1400 miles, just to get some fast food in Aztec, NM!

 


I walked back over to the McGruff vehicle to visit with Rod & Murph. They showed me where McGruff’s frame had broken during the previous night's event. Murph had made the repairs himself getting McGruff ready for tonight’s event. As you will see later, Murph is a pretty good welder.
 


I walked over to visit with Charles Benns and Pit Bull and he told about his new suspension sponsor, Sway A Way Suspension out of California. Charles feels this new partnership for 2007 will increase the air Pit Bull will get with much harder hits. It seems as Pit Bull is taking new steps forward in becoming more competitive with the new suspension. The improvement seemed to be showing already, as Friday night saw Pit Bull sweep Racing and Freestyle. Speaking with Charles about the previous night's victories, he was very humble and changed the subject. Charles loves to discuss his work with Albuquerque Children’s Hospital. Pit Bull is his other favorite topic, who can blame him--it is a great looking truck!

I was able to get a picture of AMP CEO Scott Hart and the drivers for tonight right after the Pit Party.
 

 

Here is a picture of the Pit Party and a very good one it was. It was extended for 5 or 10 minutes as there were still fans in line for autographs. It was finally stopped and the remaining fans were promised autographs after the show.

 


There were also some very good FMX riders on hand, but as the norm, they would rather perform than take the time to write down their information for me. I did ask, but this seems to be the standard for FMX bikers, they love to perform, but not into the recognition part of it yet. They did some great stunts in the air with a low Coliseum ceiling. Keeping safety in mind, they knew exactly what they could and could not do. Great job by the FMX bikers.

 


 

THE TRUCK LINEUP

 

DUST DEVIL - JIMMY LYONS

 

 

TNT - KATHY WILLIS

 

 

SHEER INSANITY - GED BARCROFT

 

 

PIT BULL - CHARLES BENNS

 

 

MCGRUFF - MURPH McCROREY

 

 

INTRODUCTIONS

 

With over 3,700 fans Friday night and 4,000 in attendance tonight with some standing room only fans, it is time for the National Anthem. Before most Monster Truck events, the announcer takes time to recognize Veterans of all branches of service, Active Duty personnel along with retired and active Police Officers and Fireman. I really missed that this night as it may not be part of AMP’s routine, but in my opinion these people should be recognized. It is almost like a Monster Truck Event tradition--again, just my opinion. The announcer did state if our military was not over there, we may not be here at the Monster Truck show, but it just did not seem the same somehow.

 

 

 

 

QUALIFYING

 

It was now time for qualifications and, again readers, I was taking pictures and failed to write them down. My apologies and we will go straight to racing after a few pics from the qualifying round.

 

 

 

 

 

 

RACING COMPETITION

 

First race featured teammates Ged Barcroft in Sheer Insanity versus Kathy Wills in TNT. Sheer Insanity took the win, but to be fair, TNT lost 3rd gear the previous night and was not running to its full potential.

 

 

 

Next out would be Murphy “Werewolf” McCrorey in McGruff versus Jimmy Lyons in the Dust Devil. If you have not read my coverage’s before, you may wonder why I call Murph McCrorey "werewolf"? Reason being is he is a very quiet young man, kind of shy (seems to be getting over the shyness though) but you put this young man behind the wheel of McGruff and it is like he grows fangs as he gets very aggressive. Anyway, McGruff took the victory, it looked as Dust Devil beat McGruff off the line, however he did not get the air he needed with that short wheel base.

 

 

Charles Benns made a run across by himself, due to his being the night's fast qualifier.

 

 

Semi-Finals would begin with Charles in Pit Bull versus Ged and Sheer Insanity. Sheer Insanity took this race easily by about a monster truck tire length. But wait a minute, where is the Aztec Police when you need them? Sheer Insanity ran a red light taking off too fast. A disqualification is declared and Charles Benns is now the winner. Ged, your ticket will be in the mail!

 

 

Next out is the fastest loser Kathy Wills in TNT versus Murph McCrorey in McGruff. TNT made this one very close even missing 3rd gear, but once again, McGruff flew to victory.

 

 

 

For the racing victory, it would be Murph and McGruff facing off against Charles in Pit Bull. We had just seen our closest race yet in Las Vegas last week, but this one was very close also. I mean very close. Murph took the racing victory, just edging Charles.

 

 

 

 

FREESTYLE COMPETITION

 

Time for some Freestyle!  I will let the pictures tell the story, but I do have a few comments. Only two trucks made it through this portion of the competition without suffering any breakage. That being Sheer Insanity and McGruff. Pit Bull was doing very well until it broke a power steering line and was shut down by AMP. TNT did her best with two gears until the truck back-fired a couple times and died. Dust Devil made a nice couple hits & jumps, then something broke and he limped back to the pits with damage. I do not understand the crowd's vote for the freestyle winners as it was a tie between Kathy Wills in TNT and Charles Benns in Pit Bull. Nothing against these two drivers, but their runs were cut short by breakage, and McGruff put together a very good, full run that was the best on this night. Check out pictures below from freestyle.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

FINAL WORDS

 

Checking out of the La Quinta the next morning and sitting down for the "delicious" free breakfast, Lynn and I were at a table next to four youngsters age-ing from about 8 y/o to 14 y/o. I overheard one talking about the Monster Truck show last night? I asked them if they went to see the Monster Trucks. They said when they got there it was all sold out and did not get to go. Lynn and I felt very bad for them, so after eating breakfast, we went back to the room, retrieved a few The Monster Blog business cards with the web address so they could check out highlights from the show, and also four hero cards that a kind driver had given us over a year ago. From the looks on their faces and the joy in their voices, the monster truck driver that gave me those hero cards, now has four new fans.

On the way home we stopped at the four corners. This is where Colorado, New Mexico, Utah and Arizona all meet. The have it surveyed right to a point, where if you put your foot on that point, you are standing in four different states at the same time. I find this kind of thing very interesting. Looking at the pictures you can see it is a tourist area. All four State Flags are represented and the Navajo Nation Flag, as it sits on the Navajo Reservation.
 

 

 


It was a good event, and we enjoyed ourselves. We met more monster truck drivers and saw three trucks we hadn't seen before. We met many more fans as well!  We were treated great by Scott Hart, Howard Sofield, and the rest of the AMP crew. Most of all it was it was a lot of fun. So a very big thank you to AMP for the invite and hope to see everyone again very soon. Thanks to all of you for checking out the coverage, if you haven't already, head on over and check out the Videos from this show!! 
 

- Lauren & Lynette Bonar
 

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