By Tommy Lee Byrd


It's that time again!!  The first weekend of the monster truck winter season. There were many shows all across the nation and I was lucky enough to attend one of them--the AMP Tour Winter Thunderland at the Coliseum here in Knoxville, TN. I was excited mainly because I had never seen a few of the trucks that would be making up the show lineup.


As soon as I walked in the door, I noticed a monster truck with no body but couldn't tell which truck it was until I got closer. It turns out that Shane Smith in Venom turned it over in the Wheelie Competition on Friday night. (I was not in attendence) The truck only had cosmetic damage and actually came back for freestyle Friday, only to cut a tire down. To make the show on Saturday, the Hall Brothers team let Shane borrow their spare wheel and tire. Raminator also had problems on Friday night despite winning Racing and Freestyle. They broke the axle shaft u-joint on the left rear. They got it all fixed and ready to go for Saturday's two big shows.




















The crowd was ready for some awesome AMP Tour action, and the 2pm show kicked off with the Wheelie Competition. The format would consist of each truck having two chances of performing the best wheelie. The wheelie competition would not be judged.


First out would be Shane Smith in the cabless Venom. Shane came out with some good momentum and put the front end of the truck high into the air. Apparently, Shane was not too apprehensive after the rollover the night before.




Next out would be Quadzilla with Roger Gauger behind the wheel. This was my first time seeing the truck, so I didn't know what to expect. Roger came out and the truck seemed to be running strong but he looked a little tenative. He did pretty good but so far, Venom had him covered.




Devil's Dodge would be out next and Larry didn't carry much momentum but did a couple very impressive wheelstands.




Bobby Holman came roaring out of the pits and hit the crush cars hard and made a nice jump and had the front end way up in the air. He came back around to the other set of cars, launching nearly vertical. It was definately the best so far but Raminator would be up next.




Dale Benear came out with some speed and had two very nice wheelies but they just weren't as spectacular as Holman's. Side by side racing would be next!






There would be no qualifying and Quadzilla would sit out racing. The first race of the day put two teammates up against each other. Venom and Beast squared off and Beast came out on top.



Next up would be Raminator and Devil's Dodge. Larry Birch got some HUGE air off the cars but that let Dale in Raminator pass him for the win.



Next up was the third place race which put Devil's Dodge again Venom. Shane got the holeshot and went on to win that race.



That meant that it would be Holman's Beast vs. Raminator in the finals. As the trucks were lining up, we noticed that Dale's right front tire was slowly going flat. Shane Smith tried to stop the race but Dale wanted to go anyway. It's a good thing he did because Raminator ended up winning that race...even with a deflating tire.



During intermission, the Raminator team thrashed to get the tire back up but they were having trouble getting it to seal off on the inside bead. Finally with the help of some grease and a big hammer, it sealed off and held air. Freestyle would crank up as soon as the intermission was over.





The Freestyle format would be a group of 3 trucks would run individually and a winner would be chosen by crowd applause and then the other 2 trucks would run and a winner from those 2 would be chosen. After all 5 trucks made their runs, the winner from each group would face off in the Freestyle Finals.


The first truck out would be Devil's Dodge. With this being Larry's first indoor show, he did very well. He carried a good amount of speed around the track and hit each set of cars from both sides, getting some great air. You can tell that truck has plenty of horsepower on tap.




Next out would be Quadzilla. Roger put on a great show hitting the cars from both sides and being the first to try a donut. He pulled it off and the crowd really liked it.






The last truck from the first group was Venom with Shane Smith. His freestyle run started off a bit slow but really picked up toward then end. Shane had a couple great launches but the slow start might have cost him.





Quadzilla ended up winning that Round and would move onto the finals.....but who would he be up against? Let's find out!

Bobby Holman's came out flying and his first hit was a spectacular vertical jump that really got the crowd pumped up. He followed that up with a few more good jumps and ended the run with a fast set of donuts. It was going to be hard for anyone to top that.





Raminator came out of the pits and looked great but while making a lap around the cars before the start of his run, that same front tire blew out and he couldnt make his run. That gave Holman's Beast the win and berth in the Freestyle finals which would be ran after Transaurus came out and put on a show for the fans.



Meanwhile, in the pits, there was some thrashing going on. Raminator's flat tire was not repairable as it ripped the bead on the backside of the tire letting the air escape. That means Venom had to give them their wheel and tire back. More on this story when we get to the 8pm show.


While the track crew cleaned up the car that Transaurus tore apart, they also put a van in the middle of the car stack to make the last two freestyles more interesting.


Holman's Beast was up first and went right for that van and launched the truck and planted the rear wheels right onto the van smashing it flat. Bobby carried alot of speed and hit the cars a few more times before he ended the run.




Roger Gauger was the last truck to come out and freestyle and had an awesome run. He hit the cars a few times and went for another awesome donut. The crowd loved it and Roger seemed very pleased with the run as well.




After all was said and done, Bobby won the cheer off and that put an end to the 2pm show. I felt that the show was awesome and just couldn't wait until it was time for the next show to start. Click below to head on over to next page and see coverage of the 8PM show!!

Saturday 2PM  /  Saturday 8PM