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Bigfoot Victorious and Emotion for All Highlight Round Two of Monster Nationals

Bigfoot's season is starting to become one of major success. PHOTO CREDIT: Danny Maass, Maass Media & TheMonsterBlog.com.

The Monster Nationals always seems to know how to bring in a crowd.  The best teams, the best drivers, and a format to let every team just go out and perform to the best of their ability.

Following a successful opening weekend in Iowa, it was a trip to the rival state, at least when it comes to round ball sports in Big Ten competition.

The second stop for this year’s “Let Freedom Roar” campaign meant a trip to Madison, Wisconsin, at the Alliant Energy Center.  It’s a popular stop among competitors because of a larger floor, meaning more room to maneuver.  At the same time, for the Family Events crew and the entire field of drivers, coming to this arena also brings back the past, and many emotions.

Seven years ago, the Monster Nationals were in this arena when promoter and announcer George Eisenhart would emcee the event.  During the show, a freak accident occurred in front of the live audience.

That freak accident, one that not one individual in the stands, in the pits, nor in the entire country, could fathom happening, was the final moment that Eisenhart would call one of his events.  The sudden loss by one of the monster truck industry’s favorite people, not just because of his views on the safety of the sport but because of his positive outlook on life itself, simply devastated each individual associated with the industry.  One year later, the Monster Nationals would go under the lead of Family Events, who after many successful years of promoting the 4-Wheel Jamboree during the outdoor season, decided to venture to the winter tour.

Since that time, Family Events made sure to always come back to Madison, as a way to continue the success that Eisenhart experienced for his career, but to also honor the friend that he was to many people in the sport.

The fans came out in big numbers to start out the weekend on Friday night, where the track had the freshest cars and freshest track the teams would see in all three shows.  The lineup would see four of the five trucks that competed two weeks ago, as Darron Schnell had his Bigfoot Raptor, while Dale Benear brought back the Hotsy Ram Heavy Duty.  Doug Noelke looked to chomp down on the competition with his Tail Gator reptile, and to do battle again was Dalton Van Skyock in Predator.

However, a new face on the season made it a point to knock out the competition.  Making a return to the Monster Nationals, after a successful showing last fall in what was termed the “Monster Spooktacular” in Missouri was Derick Anson in Heavy Hitter.

Following the pit party, it was all about getting down to business as the crowd got to cheer and welcome all the drivers, and then it was time to get the first night rolling.

It started off in a big way with the opening wheelie contest.  Each truck with two hits on the cars meant two chances to make the crowd roar.

The one to do it the best is the same one who swept Iowa, and decided to keep the tradition going.  Schnell stood the red, white and blue Raptor on the wheelie bar, and the crowd loved both hits, giving him the first win of the weekend.

At the same time, Van Skyock in Predator suffered a major setback in his wheelie attempts.  The black and purple panther needed towed off the floor and to the pit.  When crews went to research what happened, it was one extreme break.  The king pin bearing went out in the truck, meaning a tedious repair would follow.  It also meant that for a majority of the night, the panther was in hibernation.  Skyock did feel he would come back later in the night, but as to when was only to be determined by how long the repairs would take.

After a cool down period, it was time to set the bracket for racing.  With four trucks, it meant a consolation race would occur after the first round, but being top qualifier still had meaning.

Thanks to a quick right foot, along with a chassis setup to keep the truck low, Anson threw in his hardest hit to put the black Chevrolet to the pole position, and looked to play spoiler with racing later in the night.

Fans had another chance to do a flag check, and to get some free merchandise, while the trucks cooled down a second time.  Up next in the competition was a chance to scream the engines as loud as they could, because when it comes to donuts, the longer, the louder, and the smokier, the more the crowd loves it.

Of course, when it comes to Noelke, his own twist of doing his donuts without the steering wheel seemed to put the crowd in his favor, as he officially took his second donut contest of the season with the opening win.

For now, the crowd got a break in determining a winner, because now it was distance that mattered.  In the long jump, more speed and less ramp meant greater distance.

It seemed to fit Noelke very well as he reattached his steering wheel, and lined up just right to make the Gator fly the greatest distance, his second long jump win of the season.

But, after all but one of he single-truck competitions were in the books, it was time to line up head-to-head.  A 100-point victory on the night could give some of the teams a chance to pull closer to Schnell in the standings, as he swept Iowa and quickly began building up a big lead.

That lead only grew as he moved into the finals and faced off with Anson.  The newcomer this year against the defending champion turned out to be a big throwdown.  Neither driver yielded, and even despite twisting in the air, Schnell somehow managed to get the nose of his Raptor to the line first, and give him his fourth consecutive win on the season, and build his point total even more.  Plus, taking home that big trophy is always a bonus.

Now, the time had come to thrill the fans one more time and let them determine a winner, because closing out the show was everyone’s favorite part…freestyle.  All five trucks were ready to roar, including Predator who returned in time for his run.

While Schnell kept his undefeated streak alive, another guy in the field also had not been beaten on the season, at least when it came to showing off.

Noelke already took home donuts, plus the long jump, and both those elements could be used for freestyle.  True to form, Noelke took his Super Gator for a spin, and had the newly added red LED’s in the Gator’s mouth glowing bright.  Crawling across the floor, and then chomping down to the approval of the people, meant that Noelke was the freestyle champion this night, and also meant his win streak in freestyle is now extended to four.

Not bad for the Monster Nationals’ resident reptile.

FRIDAY RESULTS:

  • Wheelie Competition:  Darron Schnell, Bigfoot
  • Fast Qualifier:  Derick Anson, Heavy Hitter
  • Donut Contest:  Doug Noelke, Tail Gator
  • Long Jump:  Doug Noelke, Tail Gator
  • Racing Finals:  Darron Schnell, Bigfoot, def. Derick Anson, Heavy Hitter
  • Freestyle:  Doug Noelke, Tail Gator

Track crews were hard at work beginning the next morning to get everything prepared for the second show of the weekend.  Each lane had some of the flattened metal removed, and in its place came some fresh cars.  Although some of the already destroyed cars did find a place on the track, that being underneath some of the new junk in the van stack.

All this meant was the second show had some opportunities to see bigger air, and possibly some wilder moments.

The pit party for the second show drew in even more fans than the previous night, namely because Saturday night for many kids is a night to get out and have fun.  Plus, the Monster Nationals provided an entire family friendly atmosphere, because the kids got to see big trucks, and the parents looked at the engineering behind all the machines.  But afterwards, those parents led the kids into the stands, clearing the track, and the main event was set to begin.

In order to get it started right, the fresh cars needed hit, and the wheelie contest provided that.

Every driver once again was looking to knock off Schnell and his dominance in the opening event.  On this night…it still wasn’t happening.

The red, white and blue Bigfoot Raptor stood tall on both hits, landing the wheelie bar midway on the set of cars each time.  The fans made it clear on this occasion, Bigfoot was the top truck, and extended the streak to five straight wheelie wins.

The racing bracket this time would see all five trucks make an attempt to get the free pass in the first round.

Schnell figured he already had the points lead, he should be at the top of the seeding, and put the #19 chassis to the pole position, giving him one less run to the finals to possibly keep his racing streak alive.

Noelke continued smoking the tires in the Tail Gator in Madison.  PHOTO CREDIT:  Danny Maass.
Noelke continued smoking the tires in the Tail Gator in Madison. PHOTO CREDIT: Danny Maass.

Once all the trucks cooled down a bit, the noise level increased.  The tacky concrete in Madison provided a lot of grip, and a lot of smoke, for the teams, but it also meant the Tail Gator was ready to get the rubber to the floor, and the steering wheel out the window.  Noelke wasn’t being denied this time, and put another win on the tail of the gator.

With a larger floor, the long jump contest let the drivers get a lot of speed, and a lot of air.  But sometimes going high was a disadvantage, unless it meant having the right setup in the chassis.

Anson and his Heavy Hitter managed to nail the blue lane of cars just right, arcing the truck high but keeping it low enough to where the rear tires would clear the car stack, and land safely on the ground.  It was Anson’s first win at a Monster Nationals event since his freestyle victory in Missouri this past October.

The big trophies were now on the line, as was a streak.

Schnell entered the night going 4-for-4 in event wins on the year, and never lost one round of action.  Every truck that lined up beside Bigfoot knew one victory could make a weekend.

Schnell made it to the finals, giving him the opportunity to keep his wins going.  Noelke, having already experienced a great night, lined up to his right, ready to chomp down and end his ride.  Both machines left the line hard, with the concrete seeming to take rubber and improve the grip.

By the length of a fender, the streak…continued.  Schnell’s perfect season remained intact, and his points lead extended even more.

Teams were ready to freestyle by this time, and in doing so, had to refocus because another streak was on the line.  Noelke already had a strong night because of winning donuts and finishing second in racing.  But, the target that was on Schnell now moved to him, as he was 4-for-4 in freestyle.

No one had figured out a way to get past Noelke, and him going late in the field meant he could watch other teams perform, and learn what he could do to top them.

His run was strong, but it wasn’t enough.  His streak was over.

Fans already roared their approval for Benear, who was seeking the first win for Hall Brothers Racing on the season, and the crowd felt he was possibly on his way to getting that trophy.

That is until Schnell hit the track.

Donuts, high leaps, crossing across all the stacks, and slide jobs all assisted in his efforts to win over the crowd, and sweep the big trophies on the night.  It was a very big moment as he led the parade of trucks around the arena to thank the crowd for coming out, and then went to greet them for post-show autographs.

SATURDAY RESULTS:

  • Wheelie Competition: Darron Schnell, Bigfoot
  • Fast Qualifier: Darron Schnell, Bigfoot
  • Donut Contest: Doug Noelke, Tail Gator
  • Long Jump: Derick Anson, Heavy Hitter
  • Racing Finals: Darron Schnell, Bigfoot, def. Doug Noelke, Tail Gator
  • Freestyle: Darron Schnell, Bigfoot

 

Normally for the Monster Nationals, a 3-event weekend has two shows in one day, with one being a matinee.  But the Madison crowd had a little different setup:  three days…three events.

This was an advantage for teams because rather than a very short period of time to do repairs between shows two and three, now there was a lot more hours to do any repairs or adjustments before the finale of the weekend.  At the same time, track officials had more time to maneuver some fresh cars and vans into the arena.

A few of the used autos from the previous night still had use, as the center van stack once again was built higher with the crushed cars in the previous show.

Yet another enormous crowd came out for the final show, and they didn’t waste any time getting to their seats prior to the wheelie contest.  Specifically, they were waiting to see if someone was going to knock off Schnell’s streak of wins to start the night.

Turns out, someone had the same idea in mind.

In Anson’s only weekend all winter with the Monster Nationals, he made a strong showing starting on Friday.  To start the final show off, he nailed each set of cars with everything he had, setting the Chevrolet down on each set with ease.

Not even another strong run by Schnell could top it off, and for the first time, the Bigfoot Raptor was topped in the opening competition.

Getting the top spot in qualifying was becoming even more critical as Schnell’s streak continued on Saturday, but Noelke decided to make the Gator have the free pass in the final show of the weekend, meaning in order for Schnell to continue his winning ways, it would take three passes to make it happen.

Meanwhile, Noelke was starting to get the handle on the Super Gator when it came to roaring the engine in the donut contest.  Having won the previous two events, he made sure this was a clean sweep in front of the Wisconsin fans.  It helped when the steering wheel came off and sailed out the window, making him 3-for-3 in donuts on the weekend, and 4-for-6 on the season.

Now that the smoke cleared, and the fans got a chance to post some selfies to Facebook, hang time was the name of the game.

The long jump was where Anson was showing his truck worked the best, and on Sunday it was his moment.  The black Chevrolet nailed the car stack so hard the truck went nose high, but yet the machine maintained control, and landed well beyond the car stack.  No amount of horsepower or speed could get enough distance from the remainder of the field, as Anson once again put the Heavy Hitter to victory, emerging from the truck to fist pumps to the crowd.

Now, business picked up.  Racing all season long had become focused on one truck, and more importantly trying to beat one truck.

Noelke did his part, making it a single pass to the semi-finals, and he would make it to the championship.  Meanwhile, even with one extra pass, Schnell made it back to the main event.  The final from the previous night was a mirror image, and even both Noelke and Schnell took the same lanes as Saturday night.

Schnell swept every racing competition in Madison, and is undefeated in all racing on the tour in 2017.  PHOTO CREDIT:  Danny Maass.
Schnell swept every racing competition in Madison, and is undefeated in all racing on the tour in 2017. PHOTO CREDIT: Danny Maass.

Reaction time was critical, and each left hard at the light, soaring to the line.  Photos and video confirmed, and for the sixth time in as many races, the Bigfoot Ford stood tall once again.  A perfect weekend once again extended Schnell’s points lead to where he could take the next event completely off, and he could still maintain the top spot.

At this point, Schnell knew momentum had gone right back to his side, and he wanted to ensure his weekend ended with one more victory to his credit.

The Bigfoot Raptor had the final position in the freestyle lineup, and the entire field had the task of putting up a run that would be too much to overcome.

Unfortunately for Schnell, one night after ending the freestyle streak of Tail Gator, Noelke was out to begin again, and he was the final run before Schnell took to the track, and he laid down a run that had Schnell worrying in the driver’s seat.  The Super Gator hit the track with an anger after falling short of victory one night before.

No one, not even a strong run by Schnell to close out the night, was stopping Noelke from taking one more win on the weekend.  The gator bit down, and afterwards Noelke got out from the cage, and motioned to the crowd to chomp down themselves.  The Gator was victorious one final time on the weekend, closing out a spectacular show from the Family Events Promotion Company.

SUNDAY RESULTS:

  • Wheelie Competition: Derick Anson, Heavy Hitter
  • Fast Qualifier: Doug Noelke, Tail Gator
  • Donut Contest: Doug Noelke, Tail Gator
  • Long Jump: Derick Anson, Heavy Hitter
  • Racing Finals: Darron Schnell, Bigfoot, def. Doug Noelke, Tail Gator
  • Freestyle: Doug Noelke, Tail Gator

 

Now, it’s a little bit of a longer break in the season, letting teams recoup and get set for the next event.  It’s a three-week layoff for the teams on tour, as the next time they hit the track will be a two-show weekend in the Bluegrass State.

On February 17 and 18, the Corbin Arena in Corbin, Kentucky, will bring four of the main stars on the tour to compete.

Bigfoot, Hotsy, Tail Gator and Predator are all ready to tear up the floor in Kentucky, and the fans will be clamoring to get back to seeing the stars of the show turn it up.  Tickets are available for both days, and included are the free pit party before each show.  Visit MonsterTruckNationals.com for all the information, and the ticket link to secure your seat to see the monsters “Let Freedom Roar.”

 

Season Standings
Racing Points:  25 for competition, 50 for runner-up, 100 for victory

Wheelies

  1. Bigfoot (5)
  2. Heavy Hitter (1)

Donuts

  1. Tail Gator (4)
  2. Bigfoot (1)
  3. Predator (1)

Long Jump

  1. Tail Gator (2)
  2. Heavy Hitter (2)
  3. Venom (1)
  4. Bigfoot (1)

Racing

  1. Bigfoot  600
  2. Tail Gator 250
  3. Hotsy  200
  4. Predator 150
  5. Heavy Hitter 150
  6. Venom 75

Freestyle

  1. Tail Gator (5)
  2. Bigfoot (1)

About Dustin Parks

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