By Dave VanArtsdalen - 06/04/06

With much anticipation we headed off to the Sovereign Bank Arena in Trenton, NJ to see our first Checkered Flag Productions event.  The Sovereign Bank Arena is home to the Trenton Titans Hockey team.  It is a fairly new and modern building in downtown Trenton.  It was a beautiful sunny day with temps in the 60’s, a far cry from the blizzard conditions at the Philly show we covered earlier this year!  The venue was only a short 20-minute drive from our house.


With me was my 9-year old son David, a friend of his from school and our 6-year old neighbor.  My wife was supposed to go with us and help watch the kids but at the last minute there was a change of plans.  I was a little nervous about how I was going to handle the kids and taking photos, but everything worked out well.  My son was extremely excited about meeting Allen Pezo and being able to see the Predator.  Our tickets were waiting at the “Will Call” window and after meeting with security, we were soon on the floor at the Pit Party.


My son of course headed over to meet Allen and after introducing myself to him he posed with the kids for a few photos.  Also there was Richie Blackburn with the Demon, Dave Harkey in Bigfoot #14, Rick Ownley in Sudden Impact, Carl Van Horn in T-Maxx, and as a last minute substitute for Shockwave who had blown an engine Friday was Jay Snyder in the Screamin' Demon.  As we were leaving the floor I met up with Dave Jackson from CFP who had made all the arrangements for us to attend the show.  After the Pit Party ended The Predator Ride Truck took to the floor and after a short wait the kids all got a ride that they soon won’t forget!  I wish you all could have seen their smiles as they climbed down from the truck!


Shortly after our monster truck ride, it was time for the show to get started & Introductions began!!
















After some very good Qualifying runs and blistering Racing passes by Carl Van Horn and Dave Harkey, the Final Round came down to a match-up of Rich Blackburnein Demon and Dave Harkey in Bigfoot for 3rd and 4th place, while Rick Ownley in Sudden Impact and teammate Carl Van Horn in Traxxas T-Maxx battled for the win.  First up was Bigfoot vs. Demon, and Harkey easily defeated the Blackburne and the big Dodge.




This run awarded Dave Harkey and Bigfoot a 3rd-place finish and Richie Blackburn in Demon a 4th place finish.  Next up were teammates T-Maxx and Sudden Impact.  It was a very close finish with Carl Van Horn in T-Maxx just barely edging out Sudden Impact for the win and the Racing victory for the evening!!





After a great racing Final Round, it was time for Freestyle!  The course was very dusty in spite of the CFP crew's best efforts to keep it watered down.  I was worried that I might not be able to get any clear shots with all the dust.  We were given front row seats by CFP and we all by now had a liberal coating of dust on us!  The kids didn’t mind and were actually joking about it.


First up for Freestyle was Jay Snyder in the Screamin' Demon.  Being the first truck out Jay had to be careful about his approaches to the car stack but he did a great job and pulled off a couple of impressive wheel stands over the cars.





Next up was Richie Blackburn in Demon.  Rich did a great job with some nice air off the car and some impressive wheelies!







Next up was Rick Ownley in Sudden Impact.  Rick put on a good solid performance with some great wheelies!







Next up was Dave Harkey in the Big Blue Ford!  Dave and Bigfoot were obviously the crowd favorites as he was greeted by a standing ovation!  Dave did not disappoint as he put on a blistering performance including some great wheelies and the biggest air of the afternoon!  I was extremely impressed by his performance and I would have to disagree with those that say Bigfoot drivers “hold back” in Freestyle!










After Dave’s great performance, there only was one truck left.  And that was Carl Van Horn in
T-Maxx!  Allen Pezo was not able to participate in Freestyle after loosing a front brake caliper and differential in racing.  He was not able to make the repairs in time.  We were expecting a great performance from Carl after seeing his unbelievable performance in Philly back in February!  We were not disappointed as Carl got some amazing air in the small arena.  I was amazed that he was able to keep the truck under control, a true testament to his skill as a driver.









The performances between Bigfoot and T-Maxx were both extremely good and it was too close to call a winner, so Dave Jackson asked the audience to decide the winner with applause.  It was very close but Carl Van Horn was the winner with myself and the kids being the loudest!  So Carl had a great day taking the wins in both Racing and Freestyle!




After the show we waited for the crowds to clear out and we met with the drivers and the kids were able to get autographs from them all.  I would like to take this opportunity to thank all the drivers for taking the time to meet all the kids who waited in line and also for signing countless autographs!  My group was thrilled to meet the drivers and the autographs will be cherished for a long time to come! 


Allen Pezo was not able to make the autograph session as he was stil working on his truck to get it ready for the next show in a couple of hours.  We went to see Allen hard at work on Predator.  It was a pretty major repair job and I have to give him and his crew a lot of credit for being able to get the repairs done in time for the next show.

I was very impressed by my first Checkered Flag Productions show.  I would like to personally thank Dave Jackson for the hospitality that he extended to me and my family.  It was a very well run show with plenty of action from Motocross Racing to Quad Wars between the Monster Truck action.  I will definitely try to catch another CFP show in the future and I would recommend that others do the same if they have the opportunity.

Dave VanArtsdalen - Monster Blog Special Contributor