The hardest part of any series sometimes is not the competition itself, but the time in between events. In 2015, the Monster Nationals tried to spread out the event schedule to give some time to prepare for the next round of action, while trying to not make it seem as though there was a very long wait for the competition to return. Almost one month ago, the five-truck line-up was making Madison, Wisconsin, roar with approval.
After waiting nearly 30 days, the third round of the “Birthday Bash and Smash Tour” had finally arrived.
Points leader Mark Hall and teammate Mat Dishman were ready to rock the Convocation Center in DeKalb, Illinois, after having their 11,000-pound beasts literally lowered to the floor via a heavy tow truck. But, the 40th Anniversary season continued as Bigfoot came out with three bullets in their artillery. Kevin Koszala was back in his Retro Bigfoot, while Josh Gibson was ready to make the Birthday Bigfoot roar while showing off the fan’s signatures on the body. Finally, the Lucas Oil Bigfoot was ready for action, but that was where things took a slight change.
Just a few weeks ago, the Bigfoot team suffered a loss in the family, as their longest-running race truck, Bigfoot #10, experienced a very rough crash. Driver JR Adams was fine, but the truck was another story. Adams knew the truck had chassis damage, but when he brought the piece back to the shop, it was worse way beyond any repairs. So, as difficult as it was, the choice was made to retire the truck from competition.
With Adams out, the team had to make some changes in their fleet, so Rick Long was summoned to head to Texas, which was the next event for Adams. But, the Lucas Oil Bigfoot was committed to running the entire Monster Nationals tour.
That was not a problem as at the shop, the team did a little body swap on one of their vehicles. After having run in Ohio the two previous nights, the Lucas Oil Bigfoot arrived in Illinois, ready for action. Who was doing double-duty this weekend?
It would be the #1 driver in the Foot fleet, multi-time champion and Guinness World Record holder Dan Runte, in the entirely brand-new, silver colored chassis that is Bigfoot #21.
The Convocation Center was ready for the action, and once the pit party was over, the five-truck field was ready to rock a packed crowd. Up first, with two fresh sets of cars to use, was the wheelie contest. Each machine had two hits, so an early draw would be an advantage, but even going late in some cases has been a good thing as the flattened cars often let the truck land farther down the stack. It appeared Runte was willing to show that despite his new piece having a longer wheelbase, and a slightly different setup than his previous piece, he already had a handle on the truck, and powered to the victory.
Even with the small floor, there was plenty of room to let the field get the engines screaming as the donut contest was up next.
One guy that has seemed to excel in this particular category has been Dishman and his Rammunition beast. That theme continued once again as the Firestone tires were lighting up the floor as Dishman once again would take the donut contest victory.
Onto the third competition, which was about distance rather than height. The long-jump contest on such a small floor would prove to be a challenge, but one driver that seemed to constantly power his way to this victory every chance he could in this category was Hall. He may have the world’s fastest truck, as a Guinness World Record can showcase, and he made the Ram Heavy Duty launch like a black rocket to the sky, taking home his first victory on the night.
After a break in the action, the big trophies were on the line. The time had arrived to line up and react as fast as possible to the green light. Crowning a champion in racing was the next part of the show.
The final round came down to a rivalry that has defined the Family Events circuits for many years. In one lane, Hall lined up his Raminator. In the other, Runte and the Lucas Oil Bigfoot. For over a decade, these two have gone at each other in the summer jamboree series, with neither giving an inch once the lights turned green. Now, on a very rare occasion, the two would go at it indoors, on concrete, and see who could react the fastest.
On this night, it was the Ram that would make it to the line first. Hall followed up his previous racing win at the last event with yet another one on the tour, extending his lead in the point standings.
After racing concluded, the track crew made some minor changes to the floor, double stacking one of the lanes of cars to make it a steeper approach, and made sure the van stack was aligned correctly. The final part of the night was the one many fans waited for. It was time to freestyle.
Each truck would make the floor roar, and the crowd cheer with every leap, every drift, and every hit. The one that got the biggest roar to achieve victory had the truck with the oldest body, least when it comes to when the body was originally made.
Koszala, better known as “Father Time,” would make his 1974 F250 shine brightest as the classic truck would be the class of the field, taking home a freestyle victory. It wasn’t enough to take the overall win on the night, as the Hall Brothers would have the 3-2 advantage at the conclusion of the event.
- Wheelies: Dan Runte, Lucas Oil Bigfoot
- Donuts: Mat Dishman, Rammunition
- Long-Jump: Mark Hall, Raminator
- Racing Finals: Mark Hall, Raminator, def. Dan Runte, Lucas Oil Bigfoot
- Freestyle: Kevin Koszala, Retro Bigfoot
There is little time to savor these victories, as the next three events on the Monster Nationals tour happen next weekend. Luckily, it is not a lot of driving, because the next location is in the same state. However, the driver line-up is returning to what it usually would be for the tour.
Next weekend is a rare one off for Runte, which will give him time to do some repairs and maintenance to his machine. Long is returning to the tour as the next three events happen in Duquoin, Illinois, at the Southern Illinois Center Fairgrounds. This is a unique opportunity for the Monster Nationals, as for the only time all year long, Family Events is bringing in the dirt. Not only that, but the weekend of action will have one more truck added to the field, bringing a total of six machines to compete.
New driver Doug Charles is bringing out a classic name, which has already become a hit since it was reintroduced last March, as he is set to throw down in his Wild Thang skull truck.
Tickets are available for the evening show on February 27, plus both the afternoon and evening programs on February 28. Go to MonsterNationals.com for all the event information, as well as links to get your tickets.