By Kyle Doyle - 03/05/07

That’s right race fans! Believe it or not, good ‘ole trusty KD is empty handed this month! He’s been doing nothing and he’s got nothing to say!

Ok, I know that’s a bit of a stretch. Actually, it’s quite a stretch! (Me, nothing to say?!?) However, the last month actually has been quite…well…uneventful, I suppose. That’s not to say that the three Monster Nationals events in Madison, Champaign and Sioux City weren’t really exciting, but other than that…well…there just hasn’t been too much in the way of “Behind the Scenes” material.

Madison always follows up Cleveland, and that is a notoriously short week on the Monster Nationals tour. For our team, the Cleveland curse always leaves us working late nights at the shop to get ready in time for Madison. Thankfully this year wasn’t as bad as last year, but between Mark’s destroyed motor and my nearly-destroyed back, it still was a bit of a harsh week.

The Madison weekend itself went really well, aside from a couple mechanical issues that reared up. Mark’s truck ran outstanding all weekend long, sweeping all three races. Two of the three finals we found ourselves lining up against a much-improved Lil’ Miss Dangerous machine piloted by the charming Jocelyn Perrin. Jos stepped her game up big-time in Madison, and it wasn’t unusual to see the big Willys clearing the cars with ease in racing. On Saturday and Sunday, Mark’s truck made a massive leap in the final round of each event, taking the win in a very high-flying fashion. No harm no foul on Saturday, but on Sunday the massive air caught up with Big Red. The truck landed hard on the rear axle, and jerked the truck violently to the left, which left it on two wheels pointing at the crowd. I’m confident that if the event had been outside at a Jamboree-type event, Mark would have been able to easily stab the gas and save the truck. But in the tight confines of an indoor arena, he was at the mercy of gravity and inertia. My mother always warned me never to hang out with gravity and inertia (“Stay ‘way from gravity and inertia…it ain’t restful!”). Anyways, the truck’s momentum carried it right onto its passenger side, and upon hitting the floor it slid about 10 or 15 feet on its passenger side door. Doug Noelke, who was Mark’s final round opponent, quickly shut down his TailGator machine and was one of the first people on the scene to check on Mark.


I had made my way up into the stands to capture the action from the finish line, and then found myself quickly making my way back down to the arena floor to help with the righting of the downed machine. Turns out that most of the damage was cosmetic, but with Sunday being the final day of racing in Madison, there was nothing left to do but haul the scraped and bruised beast back to the shop for repairs.

After Madison we had a bit of a respite from the racing schedule, but it kicked back into high gear as the Monster Nationals rolled into our backyard a couple weeks later. The infamously small University of Illinois Assembly Hall would play host to the mechanical orchestra of destruction, with veteran event coordinator Mike West playing the role of maestro. Over the course of the week leading up to the Champaign show, I had been commuting back and forth between Davenport, IA and Champaign. Why you ask?

Riverside Davenport at night.

I’ll tell you why. The Illinois-Iowa Regional Auto Show was being held at the RiverCenter in downtown Davenport, and the Dodge contingent at the show had asked for a Raminator truck to sit on display at the event. No problem, other than the fact that we were given very short notice. The show truck would be en-route to California during the Davenport show, and with all three race trucks tied up at events, the only truck left was ‘ole reliable: the R/T. We removed the rollcage/seat assembly from the bed, shined ‘er up, and sent ‘er on up to Davenport. I staffed the show Friday and part of Saturday, then returned on Sunday for the last half of the show and tear-down. I left the show early on Saturday so that I could make it back down to Champaign in time for the night’s race. Let’s just say by the time I made it home Sunday night from Davenport, I was tired of commuting to and from the quad cities!

Champaign went OK, but it certainly wasn’t without its usual complications. The tight confines make moving around in there a trick under the best of circumstances, so when Geremie’s motor let go while trying to stage for the final round, we had quite the situation on our hands. Eventually, Mike West, Mat Dishman, and I got the truck shoved out of the way and War Wagon was brought back for the finals, with Mark Hall taking the win by a wide margin. Not exactly the best way to end the night, but it could always be worse I suppose.



During the week after Champaign, we got slammed pretty hard with heavy snow, which made getting the rigs turned around and out of the shop pretty tough, as illustrated below.

The shop’s loader had to dig its own way out before it could dig anything else out!

Hey, when you see a neat shot, just take it. That’s what I always say, anyways.

This is where we normally park our vehicles at the shop.

It snowed just a bit.

The next race on the schedule would be held in Sioux City, IA, which is usually regarded as the coldest place on Earth, at least when the monster trucks come to town. Much to my relief, it was only bitterly cold for the first half of the weekend, as the temperatures climbed up to the high 20’s on Saturday and Sunday. So, unlike last year (“I can’t feel my face!”), I was in fact able to feel my face this year while in Sioux City. I must say, Sioux City was as good to us as it had ever been, with no real mechanical problems to speak of occurring. Mark ended up taking all three racing wins, defeating Geremie in two of the three finals. It was kind of nice to get to bed at a (relatively speaking) reasonable time, each lunch when it was ready, and not have to drag spare motors and rear ends through the cold into the arena.


Since the Sioux City event, we’ve been hard at work in the shop trying to get a head-start on our Jamboree program, as the Texas Jamboree is at the end of this month (March). Big events like that can really sneak up on you, so you have to prepare yourself as well as you can as far in advance as you can. Trust me, it really helps save some headache.

Mark welding up some new wheels for the outdoor season.

I apologize for the lack of updates and neat stories for this installment of BTS, but I’m sure I’ll have plenty to share with you by the end of March, as I will be spending the next four weeks in Florida, Georgia, and Texas. Let’s hope that all of the shorts I’m packing will get used, eh? I’m all for warm weather, and needless to say, I’m ready for a road trip. That little voice has been whispering in my ear a lot lately, saying “Find something to do for the article!!” I think it’s about time I listened up.


- KD

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