Welcome to yet another coverage from out west!!  I would just like to thank my parents for their support and involvement in The Monster Blog, and for doing such an awesome job covering events out by them!!  I think you all will greatly enjoy this Coverage, as I believe that it may be the very best we have done on the site to date.  Also, thanks to all the folks from Live Nation for their help in our covering of this event, and for putting on another great show!!  Enough of me though, on with the coverage from Phoenix, AZ!! - Ross Z. Bonar - The Monster Blogger

 

My wife and I arrived in Phoenix Friday night the 27th, as we had booked a room for three nights through www.priceline.com.  The amazing thing was getting a room at the Hyatt for $50.00 a night, which made it affordable anyway.  From the downtown Hyatt, everything is within walking distance and the weather in Phoenix in January was awesome.  Some of the attractions within walking distance included the outside eateries, lounges, theatres, and our favorite spot, the Hard Rock café.

But, on to the reason we were here, the Monster Trucks!!  Our assignment for The Monster Blog this day was to check in with the USHRA officials, attend the pit party, meet the drivers, get some autographs for our little grandson, and introduce the site to the drivers and as many people as possible.  We were able to meet everyone without breaking the autograph lines, except for Jimmy Creten, driver of the Bounty Hunter, who was swamped with adoring fans at the time.  There was a break between the pit party and the start of the event, so we walked the three blocks to the Hard Rock Café and "munched on some grindage", as Pauly Shore would say.

 

 

THE TRUCK LINEUP

 

We headed back on over to the show after a nice lunch, and it was just about time to get the show on the road.  So, let's take a look at the field of trucks that would be competing tonight!!

 

CYBORG - JACK KOBERNA

 

 

MCGRUFF - ROD WOOD

 

 

TUFF COUNTRY - PAUL JENSEN

 

 

DRAGON SLAYER - KREG CHRISTENSEN

 

 

SAFE AUTO MINIMIZER - MARK MCDONALD

 

 

MONSTER MUTT - LEE O'DONNELL

 

 

BATMAN - JASON CHILDRESS

 

 

IRON OUTLAW - LINDSEY WEENK

 

BOUNTY HUNTER - JIMMY CRETEN

 

GRAVE DIGGER 19 - ROD SCHMIDT

 

 

THE PIT PARTY

 

A ton of fans had showed up for the Pit Party before the show, getting a chance to see the trucks up close and personal, and get to meet their favorite drivers.  There was a really neat custom truck on display that belonged to one of the local radio stations, 98 KUPD, a stretch Ford F-150, that we just had to take a picture of. 

 

 

 

As we mentioned before, it was a beautiful night in Phoenix, so much so, that they chose to open the roof for the show!  In some parts of the country, opening the roof in January may seem crazy, but down here in Arizona, it made for a very enjoyable evening.

 

The track was setup much differently than most of the stadium courses the Monsters race on throughout the year, as this event was being run in a baseball stadium.  Thus, the trucks would start out on either end of the track out where right and left field would be, charge down a straightaway running down the baselines, make a sharp turn around home plate, and charge over a set of cars that was positioned in the infield, flying over second base, and back out into the outfield across the finish line.

 

There were some wild obstacles setup for Freestyle, including some very large stacks which, at the base, had four cars, with two vans stack over the middle cars.  There was also an ATV course setup for the Quad Wars that the Monsters could also make use of in Freestyle.

 

 

There was a delay in getting the show started, but the Monster Truck fans were in good spirits, and no one seemed to mind.  Especially the youngsters, as it seems the anticipation of seeing the monster trucks is as much fun as actually hearing them start up.  My favorite part of the pre-race ceremonies is always the song, "Proud To Be An American."  The announcer always asks for Veterans, Firemen,  and Policemen, retired and active, to stand up during this song.  My wife and I are both veterans, her 4 years, and myself 6 years active-duty, and I also worked for the Army 20 years as a civilian.  So to see these people recognized at a sporting event, always brings a tear to my eyes.

 

One of the primary Monster Jam sponsors was on hand, being represented through one of their local Ford dealers, as they introduced Ford’s new line of trucks and they were driven around the field in front of the packed house of fans.  There were Ford signs everywhere you looked, to include the infield, and there was no doubt this sponsor was getting max exposure for their buck.

 

The event started with the announcer introducing the drivers and trucks, and as they were introduced, they fired up the engines and parked them in what is normally centerfield at Chase Field.  The trucks then returned and parked in their positions around the edge of the stadium.  As we were to learn later, it was not a great spot to park for Kreg Christensen and Dragon Slayer.

 

THE RACING COMPETITION

 

Finally was time for the Monster Trucks to start the show with Qualifying!!  We did not write the times down or take pictures during the qualifying times.  We had tried to record them on a miniature tape recorder, but upon arriving home and trying to listen to the tape, we could not even hear our voices over the crowd noise.

 

I cannot believe how the sport has grown, I remember taking Ross to events in Springfield, MO, when he was seven or eight years old.  This was by far the biggest event we personally had ever been to.  Even trying to get in the stadium, there were two lines over a city block long, just to get into the pit party.  WOW!!  The attendance for the show was not announced, but from going to many baseball games in similar stadiums, for an educated guess, I would say well over 30,000 people were ready for Monster Truck Racing!!

 

ROUND 1

 

MCGRUFF VS. IRON OUTLAW

 

The first match-up of the night featured Rod Wood in McGruff going up against Lindsey Weenk in Iron Outlaw.  This was a big night for Weenk, as he had been riding an incredible streak of wins into the evening's show.  Iron Outlaw took this race easily as McGruff took the turn to hard and spun out.  We would see quite a bit of this as the night went along, as the turn on each side of the field is very sharp and difficult to negotiate.

 

 

 

GRAVE DIGGER VS. BOUNTY HUNTER

 

The second pairing would be a high-powered match-up, as Rod Schmidt in Grave Digger 19 would take on the reigning Freestyle World Champion Jimmy Creten in Bounty Hunter.  Bounty Hunter takes the win in a very close and exciting race, crossing the line only about a truck length ahead.  Both trucks went around the course very smooth, however Grave Digger had just a slight problem with the turn, costing him the win.  The Team CSK trucks were on their game tonight, as they were both heading to the second round.

 

 

 

MONSTER MUTT VS. DRAGON SLAYER

 

The third race of the opening round put Lee O'Donnell in Monster Mutt up against 2005 Monsters of Destruction Champion Kreg Christensen in Dragon Slayer.  This was a really good race, with Dragon Slayer taking the win, but he was really smoking coming out of the turn.  You can see from the picture that there is a lot of smoke pouring from the truck.   Monster Mutt must have hit the jump at a bit of an angle, as he landed on the other side on two wheels, and made a very nice save getting the Mutt back on all fours.

 

 

 

 

BATMAN VS. CYBORG

 

The next race would see the sharp looking new Batman truck with Jason Childress as the helm take an easy win over the 2WD Cyborg truck of Jack Koberna.  The underdog Cyborg had a really good run all things considered, but Batman was mistake free and the much higher budgeted truck takes the win.  It does make you wonder sometimes though, why Koberna chooses to run the truck 2WD.  With two more wheels putting power to the ground, he very well may have taken this race.

 

 

 

 

SAFE AUTO VS. TUFF COUNTRY

 

A great round of racing thus far, with the final match-up coming up.  Rookie driver Mark McDonald in the Safe Auto Minimizer would take on Paul Jensen in Tuff Country.  Safe Auto took this easily as Jensen had trouble in the turn, taking it too sharp, and knocking out a turning pole.

 

 

 

 

 

During the first round, there were five trucks eliminated.  With five winners, another truck was needed for head-to-head competition in Round 2 and Rod Schmidt in Grave Digger was the Fast Loser in that round, so the Digger gets another chance.  Click below to continue on to Round 2!!

CONTINUE TO ROUND 2!!