By Tommy Lee Byrd


Another year, another Thunder Nationals at McKenzie Arena in Chattanooga, TN!!  The plan was to attend all three shows at the arena, making sure I didn't miss any action. After registration, my cousin and I got settled in and prepared for a good show. It was cold outside and cold in the arena for the most part, but it seemed that the officials were in "hurry mode" with the show just lasting 2 hours.

The night's competition would start out with Monster truck wheelie contest, followed by racing. After a brief intermission, the Donut Contest would bring things back to life and the show would be concluded by Monster Truck Freestyle. "Hot Rod" Bobby Cox was in attendance to keep everyone laughing, and did a great job. Two FMX riders were on hand as well, pulling off some big tricks with a very short take off and even shorter shut down area. Two Extreme Stunt Bike riders were there too, and performed some wheelies and burnouts on the slick concrete surface.


Gun Slinger - Scott Hartsock



Cowboy - Glen Logan Jr.



Full Boar - Ed Eckert



Bad News Travels Fast - Bruce Haney



Virginia Giant - Diehl Wilson (not pictured here)



After the introductions were over, two trucks lined up to start the event with the Wheelie Contest. Ed Eckert would be first in the Full Boar machine. Ed mashed the gas hard and brought the front end up nicely. Score: 19

Cowboy would be the next truck up to try and impress the crowd. Glen hit the cars but didn't have enough momentum to carry the truck across the cars. He backed up and pulled back into his stall. Score: 10

Scott Hartsock was next in the new Gun Slinger. Scott hit the cars with a little more speed and got a decent wheelie but I've seen better out of Scott. Score: 18

Bad News pulled onto the track for its attempt at wowing the crowd. Bruce stood it up but did not carry it very far because of the fresh cars. Score: 23

The last truck out would be Virginia Giant with Diehl Wilson behind the wheel. Diehl hammered on the giant and stood it straight up and down, claiming the win in the wheelie contest. Score: 29 That would give Diehl a bye run in the first round of racing, which was up next.






Diehl Wilson made his bye run but didn't just roll across the cars, he got some pretty good air and advanced to the semi finals.

Bad News and Cowboy were the next to do battle. On these Thunder Nationals courses, it's all about the hole shot. Glen launched the Cowboy truck off the starting line and never looked back and advanced to the semis.

That left the other two trucks, Gun Slinger and Full Boar, to face off. Full Boar would get the jump and claimed a berth in the semi finals against the fastest loser in round 1, Bad News.



Virginia Giant was unstoppable and beat Glen Logan in Cowboy to advance to the finals.

Bruce Haney got the hole shot over Ed Eckert in Full Board and made it to the finals where he'd face Diehl Wilson in Virginia Giant.



In the closest race of the night, Virginia Giant stayed low and was able to get back in the throttle to take the win during Friday night's show.



When the intermission came to an end, it was time for the monster truck donut competition. The first truck to compete was Cowboy with Glen Logan. He never could get it to brake loose and get some good donuts going. The truck rocked up on two wheels a few times, but Glen got back in the gas to bring the truck down. Score: 5

Next out was Ed Eckert in his unique Full Boar truck. This truck has a completely different attitude because of the quarter eliptical leaf springs he uses, but it was pretty successful in the donut contest. The truck pulled some really tight donuts and Ed threw the steering wheel out the window during the run. Score: 23

Scott Hartsock came out next and had a little trouble getting a good donut going but finally got it to co-operate and pulled off a fast, tire smoking donut. After running out of room on the floor, he circled around the track to try it again only to get the truck up on two wheels. Scott turned into it but didn't have any room at all to power out, so the new Gun Slinger landed on its side on the McKenzie Arena floor. The truck would then be righted and driven back to its stall under its own power.





Bad News came roaring from its pit stall and as soon as the truck started to rotate in a donut, Bruce had the steering wheel out the window. He really had a fast donut going and held it for quite some time. It was the best donut of the far. Score: 30


Diehl Wilson and Virginia Giant have a reputation for performing some wicked donuts. Diehl did not disappoint and threw the truck into a wild drifting donut that traveled all the way across the arena floor. He would also score a perfect 30 and would eventually win the crowd cheer-off.




After the trucks cooled down from the Donut Contest, it was time for Freestyle. Cowboy would be up first and Glen carried a lot of momentum around the track but never got any great air. He just re-entered the seat of a monster truck after recovering from a motorcycle accident, so I'm sure that had something to do with it. Score: 10


Full Boar came blasting out of its stall and sped around the track hitting the cars numerous times. Ed performed another donut but he was having transmission problems which prevented him from getting a really fast one going. Score: 19

Scott Hartsock looked the Gun Slinger over after his flip and didn't notice anything wrong with it, so he came out for his freestyle run. The truck ran great and didn't seem to have any problems at all. It only received a few scrapes on the cab. Scott made some good jumps and filled the whole time for his freestyle. Score: 28




Bad News was up next and Bruce Haney wanted to win the freestyle to make up for the two second place finishes he got in the earlier competitions. On his first hit, there were some mechanical problems with the truck. The truck actually broke an axle and Bruce didn't want to hurt the truck anymore so, he took it easy for the remainder of the freestyle run. Score: 23



The last truck to compete was Virginia Giant and Diehl aired the truck out several times over the cars. He even cleared the cars a couple times and barely had enough room to get the truck stopped. He ended the run with another set of crazy fast donuts. Score: 30




With that performance, Diehl Wilson in Virginia Giant had successfully pulled off a complete sweep of the show. Little did the competition know, Diehl was far from done yet. Check out the next pages for coverage from the Saturday 1:30 and 7:30 shows!!

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