It doesn’t seem as if the Monster Nationals had a lot of time to recoup after the single-event weekend over Valentine’s Day. But, it will not be as kind over the course of the next month. Round four of the tour landed in the Bluegrass State of Kentucky, where horsepower takes on a literal meaning thanks to nearby Churchill Downs, where American Pharaoh began winning the hearts of all racers.
But instead of hitting the big dirt, it was hitting the concrete inside the Corbin Arena located in Corbin, Kentucky, as round four was set to bring in four beasts gunning for a championship.
Four…isn’t there five trucks on the circuit?
Only four of the regulars would make this show, as Doug Noelke in his Tail Gator were already booked for another show, meaning it would be two Rams taking on a Raptor, and a Snake.
With a successful pit party in the books, along with introductions, the track was cleared and it was time for the fresh sets of cars to get their first bit of action on the night.
Starting things off were the wheelie contest, with each truck getting the chance at two hits on the racing lanes. This has seemed to be a place where Vinny Venom in Snake Bite has excelled in recent weeks as the red Super Snake pointed the fangs toward the roof on both hits. It was enough to get the crowd roaring their approval and gave him the opening win of the night.
Venom knew all about what was next on the agenda because when it came to qualifying for position, he knew how to take the top spot. However, with four trucks in attendance, it meant no bye runs to make it to the finals. It also meant that there would be a consolation race to determine who would take home third-place points.
Unfortunately for Venom, his momentum quickly came to a halt when the Ram 1500 Limited of Mark Hall decided to show the horsepower in the Hemi-powered Raminator, putting himself at the top of the charts for the racing bracket.
With a break in the action, drivers and crews were at work getting things tightened up and ready for the next event, where smoke is almost required. It was time to light up the tires in the donut contest.
After having a controversial weekend earlier in the season where many felt he deserved to win, Schnell has made the racing stripes Bigfoot sing when it comes to getting the cyclone going. This night would be no exception, because the tires would light up the floor and kick the smoke right up to the ceiling. It was plenty enough to get the victory from the roaring crowd.
Up next on the docket was launch mode for these machines. No crowd noise would determine the winner, because it would be all about distance in the long jump.
Already having one victory in their stable, it was only fitting that the Hall Brothers take in another, but this time Hall would take a back seat as his brother-in-law, Dale Benear, would sail the Rammunition Ram Rebel over the cars and have the tires land farther than any of the competition, giving the team two wins on the night.
At that point, the Halls decided it was time to kick it into high gear since the big trophies were now on the line.
The racing bracket would go quick with only four trucks, but Hall himself knew that he needed to get back on the winning track since he was behind in the standings. That gave him extra incentive since he was defending his championship from a year ago. This led him to push the Ram harder than anyone in the field that night, as he went through the first round and then to the finals, taking home the racing trophy on Friday night.
All night long the one stack that got no attention was the van set in the center of the floor. Now, that was to change. It was time to let each truck loose and just have fun in freestyle.
The new piece for Hall that he debuted last June was tuned in for his driving style, and it showed. He would pull onto the floor, then hit the switch to let the Ram on the hood snort some smoke. Then with one nail of the throttle, all four Firestone tires would light up the floor. He would go left, right, nail donuts, and even hit a reverse hit on the center stack. The fans were roaring their approval when the truck came to a stop, letting Hall take a sweep of the big hardware on Friday night.
- Wheelie Competition: Vinny Venom, Snake Bite
- Fast Qualifier: Mark Hall, Raminator
- Donut Contest: Darron Schnell, Bigfoot
- Long Jump: Dale Benear, Rammunition
- Racing Finals: Mark Hall, Raminator, def. Darron Schnell, Bigfoot
- Freestyle: Mark Hall, Raminator
Just trying to get set for Saturday had some teams going a little stir-crazy. The Snake Bite team had to go into surgery mode, which involved unbolting the bedsides, and asking for assistance from the heavy equipment. Venom went so hard the previous night, the engine decided it had enough and declared it was done.
So, the Snake crew began Saturday morning in disconnecting all the hoses and safety equipment off the used 572 cu. in. Ford, and got it lifted from it’s old home. Luckily for the team, they keep a spare ready to go in the hauler, and they were hard at work getting the new power plant between the frame rails for the second show of the weekend.
At the same time, across the floor, the Bigfoot team was also hard at work, but not on the truck.
A personal matter came up with Schnell, and he would not be able to drive for the second show. So what is the Foot team to do? As luck would have it, one of their drivers just returned to the seat a few weeks ago.
MTRA Rookie of the Year Josh Gibson returned to competition last weekend for the Bigfoot team, and he showed everyone that his sophomore season at the wheel would be just as successful, if not more.
This weekend, Gibson was not slated as a driver, but instead was crewing on Schnell’s truck. However, when duty called, he was ready to take to the wheel. The team needed to make some adjustments to the truck so he felt comfortable. But, his confidence was high, and he knew the piece he was driving was a proven winner.
Bigfoot was locked and loaded, Snake Bite had some fresh venom under the hood, and the Hall Brothers were set to continue their luck from a night ago. It was time to start this fight to the finish.
Fresh metal was brought in to make sure the wheelie contest would see some rocket launches to the roof of the Corbin Arena, and that brought about some intense action to start out the night. Right away, Gibson decided to get to know his “rental” for the night, and planted the machine right in the center of the cars. It may have cost a couple of bedsides, but it was enough to launch the blue Ford into victory.
A bit of a break gave the trucks time to get set to lock into their racing positions, and Hall was not having anything of playing second fiddle to the rival brand. He would take Raminator to the top of the charts to have lane choice for the entire night.
Hall has been known to be tough to beat for the donut contest, but this season it seemed like Noelke was the one being voted victorious the most. But, with the Gator not in attendance, the field was wide open to decide who would be winning the second round of action. Gibson stepped up to the plate and would put the #19 chassis to the top of the heap again, smoking the tires to oblivion in victory.
He then decided launching to the sky wasn’t enough, nor was smoking the tires. It was time to soar, and he then followed it up by winning the long jump contest. It seemed like Schnell knew his teammate would be alright in handling the longer wheelbase machine, and with three wins under his belt, it was clear he was.
Now, the time arrived to get the big hardware out. The trucks each had to make two runs, with only four trucks in attendance.
Gibson was not laying over for anyone, and he made sure of that by taking yet another victory on the night, taking home racing back to the Pacific, Missouri, shop, along with some repairs that will be necessary to get ready for the next weekend.
Finally, it was time to get every truck to show off for the fans. The van stack in the center was elevated even more thanks to some of the cars used from the night prior, meaning that anyone that hit it this time was going up even higher.
It didn’t seem to bother anyone in the field, and certainly didn’t seem to bother Venom, because he had yet to taste victory in the one competition where it’s all about showing off. Still, he had a lot of confidence in the truck, especially since there was fresh venom in the form of the new engine. He would flash the lights, and the mouth, the entire run, and brought home his first freestyle trophy of the 2016 season.
- Wheelie Competition: Josh Gibson, Bigfoot
- Fast Qualifier: Mark Hall, Raminator
- Donut Contest: Josh Gibson, Bigfoot
- Long Jump: Josh Gibson, Bigfoot
- Racing Finals: Josh Gibson, Bigfoot, def. Mark Hall, Raminator
- Freestyle: Vinny Venom, Snake Bite
The action in Corbin sets off the longest stretch of consecutive weeks of competition for the Monster Nationals, as it is the first of three weeks that are back-to-back. But, it will not just be a change of surroundings next weekend, but also a change in surface.
A short trip north to Du Quoin, Illinois, is next for all the teams as the next venue is the Southern Illinois Center at the Du Quoin State Fair. The reason this is also a change in surface: where they are performing is normally an area that is used for rodeo and barrel racing for horses. What this means is that the track is going to be made of dirt, and that means new obstacles for both wheelies and freestyle, and also a longer track in racing.
It’s another three-show weekend as one show happens Friday, February 26, at 7:30 p.m. and a pair of shows takes place on Saturday, 1:00 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. As always, a pit party precedes each event, and tickets are available. Visit MonsterNationals.com to get all the information on the event.
Wheelie, Donut, Long Jump and Freestyle: Top-3 Only
- Bigfoot, Snake Bite-3 Wins
- Tail Gator-2 Wins
- Raminator-1 Win
- Tail Gator-5 Wins
- Bigfoot-2 Wins
- Raminator, Snake Bite-1 Win
- Bigfoot, Tail Gator, Rammunition, Snake Bite-2 Wins
Racing Season Points (25 points for competing, 50 for runner-up, 100 for victory)
- Snake Bite-400
- Tail Gator-175
- Tail Gator-4 Wins
- Raminator-3 Wins
- Bigfoot, Snake Bite-1 Win