MAVERIK CLASH OF THE TITANS
ROCKY MOUNTAIN RACEWAY - WEST LAKE
CITY, UT - 08/11-12/07
By Lauren Z. Bonar
Traveling from Tuba
City, AZ to Salt Lake City, UT along US 89 North was a very beautiful
drive. Lots of small towns until we hit I-70 and took that to North I-15.
Hotel accommodations were once again difficult to get at a reasonable
rate, even trying Priceline. We ended up staying at a KOA Campground about
50 miles from Rocky Mountain Raceway. KOA had little cabins you can rent
that had a bed and electricity. Good thing we brought our sleeping bags
and towels, because they are not furnished at a KOA.
Lynn and I arrived at Rocky Mountain Raceway “RMR” around 10:00 am
Saturday morning. We asked for Mr. Mark Pittman and a gentleman in the
parking lot told me to come back as he would not be around for a couple
more hours. I later found out the gentleman I spoke with was Doug
Binstock, General Manager of RMR. We went out looking around the SLC area
& shopping. We met with Mr. Pittman in a couple hours and he gave us the
grand tour of a very unique racing facility. It features racing of all
kinds to include dragsters and motocross. Mr. Pittman made sure we were
checked in, gave us the do’& don’ts and we were good to go.
Driving back to the pits I spotted a ride truck I had never seen
before, it was called "Thumper". I stopped to chat with the owner, Ron
Barrows out of Washington State. Ron was a friendly fellow and asked Lynn
& I if we wanted to take a ride. We declined, but did tell Ron we would
get some pictures of his awesome ride truck. You can check Ron Barrows out
Once we went back and parked in the pits, we spotted many familiar
faces. First we spotted Keith Sturgeon and were able to catch up with him.
He was excited about being here and facing an awesome line-up of
competition. Keith was asking about the video Marty Menze took in Lake
Erie and if Ross was going to put it up on the Blog. It was up when we got
home Keith!! lol With two Bigfoot Trucks parked together, Dan Runte
came out of his Air Conditioned hauler to say hello. It was hot out there
Dan, some A/C would have been welcome!
Next camp we came too was that of Flame Motorsports where we always
see King Krunch & El Matador parked together and as always see David Smith
and Daron Basl working on their trucks. David stopped long enough to show
me the new Hot Wheels King Krunch with the new paint scheme on it. I
looked everywhere and could not find it; David said a friend gave it to
him. So, it may be a hard to find collectors item. Daron was his usual
quiet self, I always have to get him chatting, usually by messing with
Larry Swim driver of Bear Foot & Doug Charles driver of Monster
Patrol were next up. I stopped to say hello as I knew both of these
fellows from Mexicali, Mexico where Paul Shafer had five of his trucks
earlier this year. Larry flew in as Doug had driven the big rig. Doug also
brought his wife Wendy, son and father in law as they like to make it a
family outing as well. These guys are constantly working on their monster
trucks as this time Bear Foot was leaking lots of fluid from the shocks.
Larry looked a little frustrated not having back up parts, but was back to
being himself in no time.
Back on the other side of Bigfoot and where we were parked I
spotted a fellow I never met, so I went to introduce myself to Roger
Stidel back up driver of Captain USA (not to be confused with the Shafer
Captain USA). Roger is the back-up driver for Jeff Bainter, also out of
Washington State. We don’t get a chance to see the North West drivers too
often, so this was great for visitors of The Monster Blog. Roger is not
only a very good driver, but also a very big fan. The reason I know this
is, I spotted him coming back from a souvenir stand with a Bigfoot shirt.
He was trying to hide it, but Lynn and spotted it. He also said he had
always wanted to race Bigfoot and he got his wish this weekend. Great job
Kreg Christensen, driver of Dragon Slayer, and his crew along with
Paul Jensen, driver of Kaptain Insano, were a little late arriving. Kreg
explained he had put a new engine in Dragon Slayer and had just completed
it before arriving. They are from the area, so it wasn't too far down to
the track. They still had plenty going on, so I let them get back to work.
Now Lynn and I met a really out-going, large crew of people with
some really top rate equipment--the Maverik Monster Trakker team. Owner &
driver Ron Duncombe from the SLC area was having a great time. Ron & his
whole team were extremely hospitable--great people and fun to be around.
Maverik being the leading sponsor of RMR was represented very well, as the
whole race team was one of the most professional looking we've seen.
We spotted Pablo & Tina Huffaker coming out of their camper. We
really wanted to meet them not only because recently become Monster Blog
sponsors with their Racesource, Inc. company (www.racesourceinc.com).
I met Pablo at the finals in March but did not get to visit with him much,
but that night he became Freestyle Champion for 2007 driving Captain's
Curse. Along with the Grave Digger team was Black Smith driven by Aaron
Basl. I have run into Aaron’s brother a few times, but never met Aaron. So
poor Aaron had a lot of catching up to do signing my 2006 & 2007 programs!
Tina Huffaker introduced me to Mike Wales of Live Nation who was on
hand this weekend. I had very briefly met Mike at the Finals in Las Vegas.
Mike had hooked Ross up with Dan McLaughlin of Spectra Chrome, who was the
main man on the Grave Digger 25th Anniversary Chrome paint scheme project.
Ross did that story for TEN Trucks Magazine. I was able to visit and learn
a lot from Mike this weekend and really appreciate the opportunity to
visit with him.
The fans were lined up at the gate ready for the show to begin, so
let's take a look at the monster truck lineup for the Maverik Clash of the
THE TRUCK LINEUP
BEARFOOT - LARRY SWIM
BIGFOOT - DAN RUNTE, BIGFOOT - KEITH STURGEON
BLACKSMITH - AARON BASL
CAPTAIN USA - ROGER STIDEL
DRAGON SLAYER - KREG CHRISTENSEN
EL MATADOR - DARON BASL, KING KRUNCH - DAVID
GRAVE DIGGER - PABLO HUFFAKER
KAPTAIN INSANO - PAUL JENSEN
MAVERIK MONSTER TRAKKER - RON DUNCOMBE
MONSTER PATROL - DOUG CHARLES
At the driver's meeting, the
drivers all drew numbers for qualifying order and received the rundown of the
track rules and show procedures.
After the meeting there are
always a lot of kidding with one another as everyone is excited. I asked Daron &
Aaron Basl how many times they have had a request to have their picture taken
together? Like twins do, they both said at the same time; "thousands". I said
how about thousands and one? They kind of laughed and I got a pretty good
picture of them both. Daron on the right with the really good looking hair cut,
Aaron on the left looking like he was born in the 60’s! lol
Before we get into Saturday's racing competition, there is
something else I must explain. As you know Lynn gets some great video
footage while we are out doing our coverage, but this time we ran into
something we had before. With two Live Nation Motorsports trucks at this
event (Grave Digger & Black Smith), we are not allowed to put up video of
those two trucks. So any footage of races or freestyle involving Grave
Digger or Blacksmith will not be on TheMonsterBlog.com. Why? It is in the
booking contract with RMR, and we respect that! TheMonsterBlog.com
Staff always respects all requests by the promoters of events we cover.
One of the reasons the Maverik Clash of the Titans is such a major event
is due to the challenging racing course used each year--Figure 8 racing!! During
qualifying most drivers had some problems with the 11% banking on the
turns--especially drivers that had not driven here before. Doug Charles in
Monster Patrol had some real issues spinning out in every turn, but he would get
much better real fast. It was not just Monster Patrol as many of the trucks on
the outside lane spun out on a turn or two. The one to beat after the qualifying
round was David Smith in King Krunch. As top qualifier, he would now get lane
choice every race. With a Figure 8 racing course, it is hard to explain the
inside lane or outside lane, so for the purpose of this coverage I will use the
starting line when describing inside or outside lane. With that being said, I
can tell you from just about all results this weekend, the inside lane is the
lane of choice by far. Kreg Christensen had a problem during qualifying as he
had just put in a new engine, and after the first hit he idled off the track. He
later told me it was no big deal as the throttle linkage had come loose and he
would be ready for racing.
ROUND ONE RACING
Race 1: David Smith in King
Krunch versus Kreg Christensen in Dragon Slayer.
This was a very close race until Dragon Slayer had trouble making the very hard
left going into the last turn. King Krunch had the preferred inside lane and won
Winner: King Krunch
Race 2: Daron Basl in El Matador versus Roger Stidel in Captain USA.
El Matador took out Captain USA with the inside lane.
Winner: El Matador
Race 3: Aaron Basl in Black Smith versus Paul Jensen in Kaptain Insano.
Black Smith had a very smooth run as Kaptain Insano had one very small slip on
the second back turn.
Winner: Black Smith.
Race 4: Pablo Huffaker in Grave Digger versus Ron Duncombe in Maverik
This was by far one of the most exciting races of the day. Grave Digger was
ahead in a very close race as both trucks were running the track very smoothly.
Grave Digger with two turns to go spun close to the cones and had to back up to
keep from knocking one over. Maverik Monster Tracker seeing this and doing a
great job not getting too excited, stayed smooth and didn't overdrive the truck,
winning the race and knocking out Grave Digger in the first round.
I spoke with Ron during the next break in racing. Ron said that this was by far
the biggest victory of his career and was very excited, while at the same time
being very humble and understanding that a spin on this track can happen to
anyone, even Pablo Huffaker.
Winner: Maverik Monster Trakker
Race 5: Larry Swim in Bear Foot versus Keith Sturgeon in Big Foot.
Bigfoot having the lane of choice and a pretty quick truck took the victory as
Bearfoot’s engine seemed to be bogging down just a bit.
Race 6: Doug Charles in
Monster Patrol versus Dan Runte in Firestone Bog Foot.
Firestone Bigfoot took this race easily with the preferred lane and this being
Doug Charles' first figure eight racing course.
Winner: Firestone Bigfoot
ROUND TWO RACING
Moving on were Bigfoot,
Firestone Bigfoot, Maverik Monster Trakker, El Matador, King Krunch and Black
Smith. There was break in the action with modifieds going out to race. So we
went back to the pits where I saw Keith Sturgeon and told him that was a very
nice smooth run. Keith was very excited and thanked me, but you should have seen
his expression when I asked him, "Was Dan Runte driving both Monster Trucks??"
His expression, priceless! I was really laughing; I thought it was a good
one. Keith must have told Dan about the comment, as when I saw Dan a few minutes
later, Dan said "ou know, his helmet really stinks!" We all three had a
good laugh at that one and Keith took it very well. Keith did have a very nice
run moving on.
Race 1: David Smith in King Krunch versus his team mate Daron Basl in El
This was the closest race by far in my opinion as El Matador in the outside lane
gave David Smith a bit of scare. Daron Basl took that back first turn in the
outside lane faster and smoother than anyone all weekend in this race and was
closing ground fast, but not quick enough to catch his teammate.
Winner: King Krunch
Race 2: Ron Duncombe in Maverik Monster Trakker versus Aaron Basl in
This could be argued as the closest race all weekend except a couple penalties.
Ron Duncombe in Maverik Monster Trakker and full of confidence had the outside
lane and ran it as good as anyone all weekend. Aaron Basl in Black Smith had
good run going with a very minor slip or two. Going into the last turn it was
very very tight as Black Smith took out a cone for a penalty. Maverick Monster
Trakker on his finish went over the cars at the finish with just two wheels and
a penalty. So what to do? Race officials ruled that Race 2 would be run again,
much to the delight of all the fans. No Winner!
Race 3: Dan Runte in Firestone Bigfoot versus Keith Sturgeon in Bigfoot
Another very nice race as Firestone Bigfoot wins the race with the preferred
lane. Bigfoot in the outside lane had a great run, slipping just a little at the
Winner: Firestone Bigfoot
Race 2, Part 2: Ron Duncombe in Maverik Monster Trakker versus Aaron Basl
Maverick Monster Trakker lost ignition on the very first hit, lost power.
Seconds later the truck re-fired and made it to the backstretch before dying
again. Aaron Basl in Black Smith easily cruised to victory.
Now let’s recap--some major mechanical problems, some minor but
heartbreaking mechanical problems and why not stir up just a bit of controversy?
Let’s start with David Smith in King Krunch and major mechanical problems. At
the end of his race his engine blew. This was heart breaking for David Smith in
King Krunch as he had been fastest all day. He was no doubt the man to beat. Ron
Duncombe had lost his ignition switch and the race as a result.
This round the fastest loser was to move on. Keith Sturgeon in Bigfoot
was called the fastest loser, keeping in mind that David Smith was the fastest
qualifier and the closest race was between King Krunch & El Matador. Keith
Sturgeon in Bigfoot also having a close race with his teammate Dan Runte in
Firestone Big Foot, but with that minor slip at the very end of the race, it
looked to be that El Matador was the fastest loser. It all worked out however,
as Daron Basl would get David Smith’s spot with the second fastest loser when
King Krunch was unable to make the call.
Race 1: Aaron Basl in
Blacksmith versus Keith Sturgeon in Bigfoot
Bigfoot had a nice smooth run in the outside lane and that is what won it for
him as Aaron Basl had the exact same problem into the 2nd last turn as his
teammate Pablo Huffaker in Grave Digger had. Aaron spun in the exact same spot,
the exact same way as Grave Digger letting Bigfoot take the lead and not give it
Race 2: Daron Basl in El Matador had that outside lane mastered like no
other this day and now facing Dan Runte in Firestone Bigfoot he needed that
experience. Going into that 2nd to last turn and seeing El Matador right there,
I can just imagine Dan Runte thinking, how did he do that? Dan hit it very hard
and had to make the perfect turn going into the last one to hold El Matador
back, as Firestone Bigfoot took this race by about a truck length. Big kudos to
Daron Basl for his outstanding racing in that outside lane.
Winner: Firestone Bigfoot
THE FINAL ROUND
Keith Sturgeon versus Dan
Runte in an all-Bigfoot final round. I tried to bet Lynn $10.00 that Bigfoot
would win, but she immediately asked "Which one?" Oh well, I tried. This race
would be a two lap shootout for the Saturday night victory.
Dan Runte in Firestone Bigfoot had this one all the way. He had the
preferred lane and checked out while Keith did everything he could to try to
catch him. Congratulations to Dan on yet another big racing win.
Going back to the pits was a
little different as Lynn and I came off the flag stand as there were hundreds of
people lined up at the pit entrance from the stands. There was not a pit party
or autographing session before the show, but after all the monster trucks and
race cars were in the pits with engines off, the fans were allowed to go and say
hello as well as get autographs. Keeping safety in mind, all Monster Trucks were
in taped off areas were fans could view them with the drivers on the outside of
Lynn and I said goodnight to everyone as we started to head out. One last
stop as we saw a tent setup next to Dragon Slayer and Kaptain Insano. They were
giving away t-shirts and an energy drink called Rip It. Lynn likes energy drinks
and wanted to sample one as she had seen them, but never tried one.
Now fifty miles back to our KOA, download the day’s pictures, clean up,
and get some sleep.
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