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 at www.rideamonster.com.
 

 


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 him.


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 Roger.

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!  lol

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 Titans!!

 


 

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 SMITH

 

 

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.

 

QUALIFYING


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 the race.

 

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 Monster Trakker.

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.

 

Winner: Bigfoot
 

 

 

 

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 Matador

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 Blacksmith

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 finish line.

 

Winner: Firestone Bigfoot

 

 

 


Race 2, Part 2: Ron Duncombe in Maverik Monster Trakker versus Aaron Basl in Blacksmith

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.

 

Winner: Blacksmith

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.

 

SEMI-FINALS RACING

 

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 up.
 

Winner: Bigfoot

 

 

 


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 the tape.


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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