Attrition has been the theme for the Bloomsburg 4-Wheel Jamboree this year. Each day it was as though something was going to break, and it was either going to be a fix to get through the weekend, or a major repair that meant missing a show in order to get it fixed the right way.
Saturday was one of the days where things were breaking hard, often, and big.
With one event remaining, the thrash was on to get everything ready to go. Mark Hall, winless through five events this season, had the Ram team working on the rear axles from a rough Saturday of action. The Venom team of Denver Echternkamp were down to only second gear in the transmission, and opted to only perform for freestyle instead of risking damage in racing.
But the focus was on the XDP team. Saturday afternoon after one intense hit, the frame broke in five different locations, a major repair was in order.
Driver Dave Radzierez made a call and brought out the welder to begin repairs. He was asked that night if he would make it for the final show, and his response was simple and to the point. He was, “Uncertain.”
The team stayed up until 5 a.m. Sunday morning making repairs, getting the proper tubing cut, notched, and located, then welded into place. The team got in a power nap and went back to work three hours later, shortly before fans began filing in. They watched as the team went full-tilt into the operation, knowing that after the chassis was done, they also had to reset all the mounts for the shocks, plus the axle and hub, along with every bit of safety gear necessary to run.
Family Events safety and technical director, Paul Monroe, checked up on the team with a few hours remaining before the final show, wondering just like every fan if the repair was complete.
It was nearly 24 hours since Radzierez broke the diesel-powered machine to the point where it was unsafe to move, much less run. Did he…could he and the entire team from XDP, along with assistance from many other crews pull off what seemed nearly impossible?
When Monroe came over with less than an hour before the call to enter for introductions, he was in disbelief.
He walked around the chassis, looking to make sure everything was in order for safety guidelines based on MTRA rules. He looked at Radzierez, his crew chief Michelle Simpson, and saw them put the massive tire back on. In what could truly be considered the winner for “Thrash of the Year,” Radzierez would make it out in front of his home state fans. It did come at a sacrifice, because in putting the truck back together, the team opted to not put the bump stops back on the shocks, because they were only going to race the truck, and not risk bottoming out the suspension and cause even more damage.
However, the fact that he even made it in front of the grandstands was a win for he and the entire industry. The fans certainly let him know it when his name was announced.
Meanwhile, it was time to go racing, and all the focus was squarely on the blue Raptor of Larry Swim. After taking home a win on Friday, then on Saturday, he was in position to pull off the sweep at the fairgrounds. But the rest of the field looked to take him down and not feel guilty in doing so.
Swim first disposed of Mat Dishman in the Rammunition, then once again would encounter his nemesis in Vinny Venom, who was even more driven to take down the blue truck in his Snake Bite machine.
Sadly, his dose of snake venom didn’t work, as Swim found himself in the finals.
On the opposite side of the bracket, Hall was on a mission himself, because he was on a winless streak not only this season, but he had not won a bracket at Bloomsburg since 2014. Following a bye-run in the first round, Hall took care of the other reptile in the field, Doug Noelke in Tail Gator.
It was time to renew the rivalry that for over a decade has been intense. Hall wanted to end a streak, while Swim wanted to continue one. These two have battled for the last few years, both winning the last two Thunder Drags championships.
The lights went green, and Hall got the jump, but Swim began to power back leading into the second hill. The final jump told the difference, and when it was done, the Bigfoot Ford was the one taking the victory. The truck sustained some damage, to the point where Swim pulled the truck to the hauler area, unable to come back for freestyle. However, it would be the first time one truck, and one driver, would sweep an entire jamboree weekend of racing since it was done in Lima in 2013. The truck and driver that did it…the one Swim beat.
- Round 1: Venom, Snake Bite, def. Benear, General Tire; Swim, Lucas Oil Bigfoot, def. Dishman, Rammunition; Noelke, Tail Gator, def. Radzierez, XDP; Hall, Raminator, BYE RUN.
- Semi-Finals: Swim, Lucas Oil Bigfoot def. Venom, Snake Bite; Hall, Raminator, def. Noelke, Tail Gator.
- Finals: Swim, Lucas Oil Bigfoot, def. Hall, Raminator.
With only six trucks making the call to freestyle, it was an open field to see who could make the most noise. Track crews took out the tire obstacle that was used for the side X side shootout, creating another tabletop, and making the frontstretch a rhythm section for the beasts. They also added three fresh cars to the area where the mud drags were held, all of which were open for the field to hit.
Dale Benear would start things off with a strong run, but was cut short when the left rear tire blew off the rim. Dishman came back out after already having a tough weekend with his wreck on Friday night, and made sure the Bloomsburg crowd knew that the only thing that was unable to be fixed on his truck was the fiberglass nose. His run included donuts, cross-threading, and also his best slap wheelie of the entire weekend.
Echternkamp tried to make his run, but after one hit retired to the pits, as his truck was still not handling right after all the repairs made over the weekend.
Then, the snake struck.
Venom is really enjoying his new piece, and has been getting a lot more comfortable behind the seat. His run saw him slide the truck in the dirt, then nail the throttle to the roar of the fans. He would sky the truck to the clouds every chance he got, and even ran the entire front stretch obstacles, including clearing the mud pit. Then he did something that no one even attempted all weekend.
The Raptor Snake would hit turn 1 with a lot of speed, and Venom manipulated the steering left, right, and hammer the throttle, the rear tires kicking up dust like a late model.
He would culminate it with a pair of vertical hits on the jammer stack, plus on the k-rail hill by the grandstands. The fans showed their snake symbol, roaring their approval.
Not even a momentum filled, and dust slinging run by Noelke could top it. Hall would be the final competitor to take to the track, and he was out for vengeance. Of all his runs on the weekend, his final one had the most speed, the most air, and some of the hardest hits all weekend. Yet, officials and the fans felt opposite. The crowd felt Hall had done enough to win it, but the officials felt the big air assault by Venom, combined with his flat-tracking ability, was the best run.
He may not have won racing, but Venom sank his teeth into the field to take home the final freestyle victory at the fairgrounds.
- Larry Swim-Lucas Oil Bigfoot, 720 (points)
- Mat Dishman-Rammunition, 520
- Mark Hall-Raminator, 520
- Vinny Venom-Snake Bite, 480
- Doug Noelke-Tail Gator, 360
- Dale Benear-The General, 360
- Denver Echtenkamp-Venom, 320
- Dave Radzierez-XDP, 200
And now, the fans of the jamboree must wait, because the final weekend of action is over two months away, but it will be the biggest celebration that Family Events has ever put on at any of their events.
For 35 years, this series has been the premier 4×4-based following, and it will come full circle on the weekend of September 16-18, as the final stop on the 2016 season returns to the home base of the 4-Wheel Jamboree, at the biggest venue and with the biggest crowds. It is back to where it all began, the Indiana State Fairgrounds in Indianapolis, Indiana.
For all the ticket information for this event, along with all the results from the previous events of 2016, visit 4WheelJamboree.com.
Special Thanks To:
Paul Monroe-Safety & Technical Director, Family Events
Lee Collins & David Ante-Track Officiating, Family Events
Emily Boden & Leah Burdette-Marketing Coordination, Family Events
Doc Riley-Announcer, 4-Wheel Jamboree
Katelin White-Katelin White Photography (“Like” her on Facebook)
Jeff Luckey-Luckey Photography
Denver & Angie Echternkamp-Vengeance Motorsports
Dave Radzierez & Michelle Simpson-Team XDP
Doug, Brenda & “Pops” Noelke-Big Dawg 4×4 (Tail Gator)
Larry Swim, Dan Runte-Bigfoot 4×4, Inc.
Vinny Venom-Snake Bite Operations
Dale Benear, Mat Dishman, Mark & Tim Hall-Hall Brothers Racing
June Hall-The “Ma’am Behind the Ram”, Hall Brothers Racing