After four months of hitting some of the best indoor venues in the northern tier of the country, and after lining up some of the toughest competition in monster trucks, it came down to just one final event on the Monster Nationals season to determine the overall champions.
Sure, one truck already had a couple championships in the bag, however there were still a few to be won, and a crowd to entertain. The Monster Nationals would make their final stop at a place that has seen a few championships in it’s day, including being the home of the first-ever College Football playoff champion. Family Events set up shop inside the Schottenstein Center, right on the campus of Ohio State University. Fans started the afternoon watching their school hit the baseball diamond, and then would walk across the street to listen to loud engines roar to life and compete.
The large crowd that turned out for the show would not be disappointed, but as the night went on, attrition became the leading candidate to win on the night.
The five-truck line-up would start the night with the wheelie competition, and right away it would see the first breakage of the night. Rick Long, driving the Lucas Oil Bigfoot, skied the Raptor to the roof on the first hit, but coming off the cars would come to a stop, and wouldn’t move. The engine was running, but something more in the driveline seemed to be the issue, and track officials came out to push the truck through the tunnel into the outside pit area. In the end, Long came out to address the crowd in a Bigfoot tee and blue jeans, revealing the output shaft in the transmission had given out, along with other parts. They had enough spare pieced to fix it, but because of time, the truck was out of commission. That meant for the remainder of the night, there would only be four trucks going after the victories.
Once the competition returned, it would be the Hall Brothers team that would get on the winning track. In this case, the red Ram would be the one to start off the festivities, as Mat Dishman would sky the Ram 1500 to the wheelie victory.
After the trucks cooled down for a bit, and the track crew played with the crowd, it was time for the monster version of dessert, which is the monster donut contest. All four trucks would go for it all, but Dishman had made a habit of winning this week-in an week-out, and in front of the Ohio State crowd, it was no different. Dishman would win the contest, while also dumping some overflow fluid on the track. Wasn’t much concern on the part of the team, as he would back the truck into his pit stall, and the crew was able to get everything fixed for the next round of action.
That round would be all about distance, as each truck had one opportunity to back up and let the machine fly in the long-jump contest.
Once again, the Ram team would be victorious, but in this case it was teammate Mark Hall launching the black Raminator to the victory, and ultimately clinching the overall win on the night for the team based in Champaign, Illinois.
But then, it came time to get down to business for the first big trophy on the night, as it was time to go side-by-side in racing. With four trucks, the semi-finals would be the first round of competition, and would be followed by the loser’s bracket to determine the third-place finisher. Dishman would advance through the first round, while rookie Josh Gibson would pull off the ultimate upset in Birthday Bigfoot and defeat Hall. Not to be outdone, Hall would win the consolation race over Kevin Koszala in the Retro Bigfoot, but it would be the final round that would set the crowd off.
Gibson elected for the right lane, and tested to make sure his Ford would grip, while Dishman was making sure the cars would not move once he nailed the throttle towards the finish line. Both trucks staged, and when the light went green each nailed the throttle. Gibson would pull the front tires off the ground and hit the stack mainly with the rear end, sending the machine into a nose-dive across the line, almost going over. Had he hit the brakes, it likely would be the case, but gravity would win out and brought the chalkboard-themed machine back to the pavement. He would do so in victory, and celebrated with the fans.
Finally, the ultimate end to the season, as the track would be cleared and set up for the final freestyle competition of 2015. Koszala would start the night off with his #11 chassis running the classic 1974 body, and would set the tone early with a strong run, actually hitting hard enough to severely bend the left-front rim. It was later seen that the rim had actually cracked as air would slowly leak out following the show. Dishman would come out next, but would spend a majority of the run backing up, lining up, and backing up again.
Following racing, Dishman was running so hard that when he came to a stop, hydraulic fluid would pour out the back of Rammunition. While it first seemed it was an issue in the drivetrain, it turned out that a steering ram had blown a seal, plus the steering stabilizer would be bent. The team would put a pin in the steering for the rear tires, and then cut off flow of fluid. Dishman would then perform his final freestyle on the season using front-wheel steering only, and it made for a challenge. He would finish the run, and the crowd would show their appreciation for all he did.
Gibson would follow and would make it a run to remember as he would slide across the floor and also hit every stack of cars, actually tearing one mount on a bedside loose. The fans at that point had their leader, but Hall was waiting in the wings to close out the night. He already had enough victories to clinch the freestyle championship to go along with the racing crown, but he wanted one last victory to put a permanent mark on the 2015 season.
His run would start out strong, with both a forward hit on the van, and then again in reverse. However, things began becoming a struggle. It appeared the black Ram would have steering issues, as Hall would struggle to turn the beast in one direction. At the same time, then power began going away to one of the rear tires, meaning he was still running in four-wheel drive, but power was only going to three wheels. Yet, he still pushed through, crossing the track and finally coming to a rest in front of the crowd. In some eyes, Hall didn’t achieve the win, and Gibson’s run was better.
However, according to the officials, there was more crowd noise for the push to complete the run with a broken truck, and Hall would get the final win on the 2015 winter season.
Saturday Night Results
- Wheelies: Mat Dishman, Rammunition
- Donuts: Mat Dishman, Rammunition
- Long Jump: Mark Hall, Raminator
- Racing Results:
- Semi-Finals: Mat Dishman, Rammunition, def. Kevin Koszala, Retro Bigfoot; Josh Gibson, Birthday Bigfoot, def. Mark Hall, Raminator
- Third-Place: Mark Hall, Raminator, def. Kevin Koszala, Retro Bigfoot
- Finals: Josh Gibson, Birthday Bigfoot, def. Mat Dishman, Rammunition
- Freestyle: Mark Hall, Raminator
That concluded the winter season for Family Events, but their year is just getting started. In just over a month, they will be back in action as they will begin their summer season with the 4-Wheel Jamboree tour that will kick off at the Allen County Fairgrounds in Lima, OH, not too far from the Columbus area that saw the Monster Nationals action. They aren’t putting the Monster Nationals to rest, though.
June 6 and 7, the Monster Nationals bring the same excitement that was seen indoors to the Illinois State Fairgrounds in Springfield, Illinois. A show on Saturday night at 7 p.m. and then a Sunday matinee at 3 p.m. will allow fans two opportunities to see some of the best trucks and drivers flex their muscle and let the horsepower loose under the Illinois skies.
Also from June 20-21, the Ozark Empire Fairgrounds in Springfield, Missouri will host the Monster Nationals, the same venue that for many years hosted the 4-Wheel Jamboree tour. For this year, the name may have changed, but the show that will be seen will be the exact same as what was seen in the winter.
Plus, on July 25, it will be Wheatland, Missouri, hosting the Monster Nationals at the Lucas Oil Speedway. That show will bring a field of seven trucks, as along with two Bigfoots and the Hall Brothers, it will have Wild Thang, Smashosaurus and Tail Gator trying to play spoiler.
For all the information on the summer shows for the Monster Nationals, visit MonsterNationals.com or visit them on Facebook, and for all the information on the summer 4-Wheel Jamboree tour, visit 4WheelJamboree.com.
2015 Monster Nationals Champions
- Wheelies: Josh Gibson, Birthday Bigfoot
- Donuts: Mat Dishman, Rammunition
- Long Jump: Kevin Koszala, Retro Bigfoot
- Racing: Mark Hall, Raminator
- Freestyle: Mark Hall, Raminator
Special Thanks to the Following People:
- Emily Boden, Marketing and Media Relations for Family Events
- Paul Monroe, Family Events Competition and Safety Director
- Paul & Michael Harry, TheMonsterBlog.com
- June & Mark Hall and Mat Dishman, Hall Brothers Racing
- Rick Long, Kevin Koszala and Josh Gibson, Bigfoot 4×4