CHASE FIELD - PHOENIX, AZ - 01/26/08
By Lauren Z. Bonar
Full event coverage is back on TheMonsterBlog.com! I know a lot of our fans out there really enjoy reading these full event recaps on the site, and its nice to be back writing for you again. Folks ask us a lot why we don't do coverages more, and the honest answer comes down to time. Coverages usually are much more time-consuming than a photo gallery, so often time constraints limit what we can. Having said all that, let's take a look back to January 26th, 2008 when Monster Jam took over Chase Field in Phoenix, AZ!!
Lynn & I arrived in Phoenix to find there was a lot going on this weekend. Across from the hotel there was a huge antique old west-themed auction going on. This filled our hotel with the auction goers which included old style blacksmiths, artists and saddle makers to name a few. Down the street at the Phoenix Suns arena Disney on Ice was performing. Security for next week's Super Bowl was also already in force, not only in the streets, but on each floor of the hotel.
Speaking of security, receiving media credentials from Live Nation is always most confusing. Not for the Monster Blog Staff, but for the Security working for Live Nation. This time we were issued arm bands as normal, but during the Pit Party they were taken away and replaced with tickets. It was explained that we were not to be on the floor after the Pit Party. Well ok, but we are never on the floor after the Pit Party anyway! Now we cannot get back to our vehicle to change out camera equipment. Ok, whatever! So we are given seats behind the huge dumpsters that are protecting the crowd and there is no way we can get pictures over them. Bottom line, if it was not for the nicest usher we have ever run across, Bob Bassett, we would not have been able to get much as far as pictures go. He was the man that provided us a place to get pictures with no fear from his supervisors. A huge thank you to Bob Bassett!!
From the stands this event was coordinated perfectly except for the fan judging. It was pitiful, yet entertaining and we will get to that later. Most people that attended felt that a 2:00 PM Pit Party for a 7:30 PM event was too early. Tons of people left the Stadium after the Pit Party to come back later, but they missed out on some racing action as that time was filled with, Rhinos, Dwarf Cars, Democross and Trophy Carts.
I was impressed with a young trophy cart driver named Erick Swanson. As many times as I have covered events with Rick Swanson in Obsession, I had never met his son. Today Erick in his Trophy Cart competing in a six lap shoot out against several other trophy cart drivers proved that racing may be in the family genes as he put on some great moves, made some really good passes and took the victory.
Lynn and I were very surprised to see some more very good friends when we arrived as McGruff was in attendance. Rod Wood was not scheduled for this event and it was great to see Rod, Karen and Murph here today. It is always more fun to cover an event when you run into good friends, like the Swansonís, Wood's and Rick's Pit Crew Chief Jeff Jones and his family. Not saying others are not friends, just that we have covered a lot of shows with these families in attendance.
A few notes before we get to monster trucks! Andrew Palochko put on a great show as the Event Coordinator and very good to see him again. Andrew was very busy, but did take time to say a very quick hello.
A few fans were complaining about how long the line was for Dennis Andersonís autograph, what they didnít understand was that not only does Dennis Anderson take the time to autograph, but he takes time to actually speak with the fans. I observed Dennis break the line, to let a Handicap youngster in a wheel chair and his family in. This may have been frustrating to fans in the line, but I am sure they now know not only did they meet an all time great driver, but they also met a man that cares about people.
Fans may not know why Chuck Werner was not in Bulldozer this weekend; Chuck was in the Pits helping out with Bulldozer with what looked like a broken foot. I could not speak with Chuck as I could not be in the Pits, but his crew guy, Kevin Lewis filled in and put on a very good showing. Hope you get better soon Chuck, we missed seeing you out there.
It was fun getting to see and speak with the World Finals Racing Champion John Seasock again. Tony Farrell driver of Blue Thunder was on hand and Lynn and I were very grateful of his kind comments about the Monster Blog. I had a T-Shirt from years gone by with old paint schemes of Bounty Hunter & Scarlet Bandit that Jimmy and Dawn Creten were kind enough to sign for us. Jimmy said that the T-Shirt must have been 8 years old. Kreg Christensen driver of Iron Outlaw and another good friend of the Monster Blog seemed to be having a ton of fun and enjoying his new ride. We did not get a chance to speak with Neil Elliot and by the time we got over there, he had a huge line for autographs.
Up in the stands and during the Pit Party, souvenir sales were enormous. The lines were long, fans carrying around bags of items, banners, flags, yearbooks and Hot Wheels. Huge sponsors were well-represented at the event, as they always are at Monster Jam events, with Ford Dealerships and Empire CAT Rental to name a couple.
So with all that side, let's take a look at the truck lineup and go racing!!
THE TRUCK LINEUP
BATMAN - JOHN SEASOCK
BLUE THUNDER - TONY FARRELL
BULLDOZER - KEVIN LEWIS
GRAVE DIGGER - DENNIS ANDERSON
MAXIMUM DESTRUCTION - NEIL ELLIOT
MCGRUFF - ROD WOOD / OBSESSION - RICK SWANSON
TEAM CSK - BOUNTY HUNTER - JIMMY CRETEN,
IRON OUTLAW - KREG CHRISTENSEN, & SCARLET BANDIT - DAWN CRETEN
Introductions were exciting as always, but a bit more so this year as the crowd really went wild when Dennis Anderson came flying out of the pits at full speed in Grave Digger. There is no doubt that the Phoenix fans truly appreciated the opportunity to see the legendary Anderson in person.
The racing course was a big step up from past Phoenix events we had attended, as the trucks would be running a fast "St. Louis-style" track that was sure to provide some close, exciting racing.
ROUND ONE RACING
Race 1: Kevin Lewis in Bulldozer versus Jimmy Creten in Bounty Hunter. I almost felt sorry for Kevin Lewis, a replacement driver having to compete against Jimmy Creten in the very first race. It was all Bounty Hunter for the win.
Race 2: Dawn Creten in Scarlet Bandit versus Dennis Anderson in Grave Digger. Dawn Creten has been a past two time racing champion here in Phoenix but Dennis Anderson and Grave Digger was just to fast tonight as he drove to the victory.
Race 3: Rick Swanson in Obsession versus Tony Farrell in Blue Thunder. This was a very close race as it looked as though Obsession had it going into the last turn. Tony Farrell in Blue Thunder had more speed going over the cars to the finish line as the replay showed Blue Thunder actually passing Obsession in the air for the victory.
Race 4: Neil Elliot in Maximum Destruction versus Kreg Christensen in Iron Outlaw. This was an easy victory for Neil Elliot as Iron Outlaw had not made it out for racing. It was never explained to the crowd what happened to Iron Outlaw as it did not make it out for qualifying earlier either.
Race 5: Rod Wood in McGruff versus John Seasock in Batman. All evening long it looked as if McGruff had a rear steering problem. It seemed as though McGruff had no problem using rear wheel drive, but it would not straighten back out. It was tough enough competing against the World Finals Racing Champion John Seasock, but with problems, no chance.
ROUND TWO RACING
Race 1: Rick Swanson in Obsession versus Neil Elliot in Maximum Destruction. Rick knew he had his work cut out for him as Neil Elliot and Max-D had the fastest qualifying time and lane choice, but he drove Obsession hard trying to make the most of his fast loser berth, but nonetheless Max-D took the victory.
Race 2: Jimmy Creten in Bounty Hunter versus Dennis Anderson in Grave Digger. This was a great race as in the last turn, last lap, Jimmy knew it was close. Bounty Hunter hit the last turn very hard, but spun as Dennis Anderson in Grave Digger went over the finish line. Give Jimmy Creten credit, as he straightened out and finished the race hard, knowing there was still a chance as fast loser.
Race 3: Tony Farrell in Blue Thunder versus John Seasock in Batman. A very close race as both monster trucks spun going into the last turn. Batman regained the momentum first, taking the victory over Blue Thunder.
Race 1: Jimmy Creten in Bounty Hunter versus Neil Elliot in Maximum Destruction. This was an extremely close race as Max-D got the call. Even after seeing the replay on the big screen it was a call I would have not wanted to make.
Race 2: John Seasock in Batman versus Dennis Anderson in Grave Digger. This race Dennis Anderson let John Seasock know he was ready for aa re-match at the World Finals in Las Vegas this year as Grave Digger took out Batman for the victory.
THE FINAL ROUND
Racing Final: Neil Elliot in Maximum Destruction versus Dennis Anderson in Grave Digger. Neil Elliott drove a great race in Maximum Destruction, crossing the finish line first. But wait!! Elliott knocked over a cone for a 5 second penalty giving Anderson and Grave Digger the win!!