It was down to one. Not was it the final day of the fall 4-Wheel Jamboree at the Indiana State Fairgrounds, but it was the final day of the entire Family Events season. A year that started out in Lima, consisting of major downpours and cancellation of racing programs, then to Bloomsburg where the heat and attrition took their toll.
Now, the eight-truck field had one event left to show why each of them deserved to be part of the tour.
Before any of the festivities on the track took place, another special moment took place on the main stage. Before the drivers drew their numbers for placement in the brackets, former driver Jeff Cook took the stage as the President of the International Monster Truck Hall of Fame, ready to announce the 2015 class of inductees.
The list this year encompasses not only drivers, but innovators. Here’s who will be inducted in this year’s class in Auburn, Indiana, on Nov. 14:
- Alan Tura-Instrumental in the development of the R.I.I. system still used today, former driver of the first twin-engine monster truck, Goliath.
- David Morris-1989 World Champion behind the wheel of Equalizer, owned by Gary Cook.
- Billy Jo Miles-One of the key figures in creating the TNT Monster Truck Challenge Series.
- Gene Patterson-Former crew chief for both Bigfoot and Samson, crewed for the Breen Brothers, former driver of Bigfoot, and the original persona behind Snake Bite.
Patterson was on hand for the jamboree up through the announcement, and thanked those who voted for him, and also knew that many of today’s fans may only remember him because of him being the man behind the Colt Cobra persona beginning in 1991. His time behind the wheel of Snake Bite unquestionably is something many people will remember him for, and come 2016, that truck will celebrate it’s 25th anniversary.
In fact, all weekend the Snake Bite machine was on display, with a brand-new body that went old-school to the original red and yellow scheme, complete with the retro lettering. But then, either by accident or by design, Gene, a.k.a. Colt, revealed that for 2016, the original “character” truck would be back with that design, competing on the jamboree tour.
It wouldn’t be Colt behind the wheel, but a new driver that will put on the red mask. Who it could be, it has yet to be seen, and maybe that’s a good thing.
As the final show approached, the question remained as to who could take home the Thunder Drags championship. Entering the program, the Bigfoot team had a solid 1-2 hold on the points, while the Hall Brothers were still looking at an outside chance of getting a title, but needed a lot of help.
In the first round, some of that help came. Hall would score the victory in his first round matchup against Jim Koehler, and then in the next race teammate Mat Dishman would take out Dan Runte, who was second in the standings.
However, in the lower half of the bracket it became more of a challenge. Larry Swim would take victory in his race against Steve Koehler, and teammate Josh Gibson would win against Dave Radzierez.
The win by Swim added another 40 points to his total, and then he would make it to the final after taking down his teammate.
Hall would make it to the finals, making it a showdown between the two drivers that started the year hot, and stayed that way through all three stops on the tour. Off the line, the two trucks took the hitch-and-go course with no delay. Through the first corner and the second cut, Hall began pouring on the HEMI power, and Swim tried everything to get next to him, but Hall laid on the loud pedal, nearly pulling a lawn-dart off the final jump, but would do so in victory, taking home the final win of the season.
Yet with all that, with Swim making it to the finals, his 120-point effort for the afternoon was enough to crown him the 2015 Monster Truck Thunder Drags racing champion, putting the Lucas Oil Bigfoot at the top of the heap.
It would be his first championship with Family Events, and the first Family Events championship for the Bigfoot team since 2011, ending a three-year rein of Hall.
Swim was quick to thank his sponsors, the crew both at the shop in Pacific, Missouri, and the team he had at Indy for working on his truck, and finally the fans for being the supporters of Bigfoot for the last 40 years. For the Foot team, the jamboree tour really has been one that they ruled back in the 1990’s during the Penda days. Now, the original team once again stood at the top of the podium, bringing home the first championship to the all-new Bigfoot shop.
- ROUND 1: Raminator def. Avenger; Rammunition def. Summit Bigfoot; Retro Bigfoot def. XDP; Lucas Oil Bigfoot def. The General
- SEMI-FINALS: Raminator def. Rammuntion; Lucas Oil Bigfoot def. Retro Bigfoot
- FINALS: Raminator def. Lucas Oil Bigfoot
There was one thing left to do to finish out the weekend, and that was let the eight trucks come out and freestyle for the Indiana faithful.
After breaking the champagne on the axle last night, Radzierez would show his diesel would still get the job done. Dishman would drift to a spectacular run as well, followed by Runte putting the Charlie’s Angels painted Summit Bigfoot through it’s paces. Then Steve Koehler brought out the General Tire Chevrolet, as he would spin two sets of donuts, and then added on a near vertical slap wheelie.
Gibson showed off his driving skills by drifting the Retro Bigfoot not once, but twice, and had the crowd roaring their approval.
The real breakage happened when Hall would run. He would keep up great momentum, sliding the black RAM Heavy Duty whenever he could, but then found major trouble. As he was trying to clear the big center double, the rear of the truck caught the landing ramp. Upon landing, Hall tried to move forward, but the front tires were spinning. As he tried different gears, the rear half of the truck never budged. Out came the heavy loader to pull Hall’s machine off the track, and with very good reason. The entire rear half of the drive train was locked up, it would not move one bit. Not the ending Hall had wanted for the jamboree tour.
To close out the weekend, the champions would perform. Swim came out first and would put the #18 chassis through a workout, including a slap wheelie and high launches off every ramp.
Jim Koehler would close out the weekend by showing why he already locked up the 2015 Monster Truck Thunder Drags freestyle championship. This time, though, he would not be the one victorious. Despite trying his hardest, the truck seemed to not listen later in the run, as if the transmission was stuck in low gear. That hindered his run late, and kept him from the win. It was still a Koehler winning, as thanks to the wheelstand and dizzying donuts, brother Steve won his first, and last, freestyle event of the season.
And so ends another year for the Family Events Promotion Company. From the Monster Nationals to the 4-Wheel Jamborees, it was a strong winter, spring, summer and fall. Now, with a three-month wait, they must regroup and get ready, because first quarter is not far away, and the big boys (and girls) with the big toys will be back at it.
For information on the 2016 season when it becomes available, visit both MonsterNationals.com and 4WheelJamboree.com, and stick with All About Horsepower to have all the coverage from start to finish.
SPECIAL THANKS GOES OUT TO:
- Emily Boden, Jessica Kirchner, Leah Burdette, Paul Monroe and Lee Collins-Media relations correspondents, technical and safety director, and lead track official for Family Events.
- Mark Hall, Mat Dishman, Mike Miller, Dale Benear, June Benear Hall-Hall Brothers Racing
- Doc Riley-Event Announcer for 4-Wheel Jamboree.
- Larry Swim, Josh Gibson, Dan Runte-Bigfoot 4×4, Inc.
- Dave Radzierez and Michelle Simpson-Driver, and crew chief-XDP
- Chris Parrish, Michael Harry, Paul Harry, Danny Maass-TheMonsterBlog.com
- Katelin White-Katelin White Photography (Like her page on Facebook).
- Rich Inman-Concussion Motorsports