Summer time means getting out the swim suits to hit the beach, the grills come out to have some family cookouts, and being able to spend a lot of time outdoors.
Folks that enjoy being outside, but would rather enjoy the feeling of having mud between their toes instead of sand, have a lot of chances to hit the woods to go through mud holes, hit some hills, and on occasion winch out of a bad situation. When the second weekend of July comes about in Pennsylvania, the feeling of being outside and enjoying a little dirt, mud, and fun means one thing: it’s jamboree season.
Every year, after Independence Day, the Bloomsburg Fairgrounds welcomes back the Family Events Promotion Company for a three-day fiesta of 4×4’s and fun.
Everyone’s favorite part of the show is when the big 66-inch tires hit the dirt, because whether one-year-old or nearing 100-years-old, all enjoy seeing the monster trucks hit the floor. The exact same field that kicked up mud in Lima returned to Bloomsburg, although with some very minor adjustments.
Dale Gerding was back in the General Tire Ford, while teammate Doug Noelke had his Tail Gator all set for action. Zane Rettew made his Bloomsburg debut with Stinger, but normally in the team truck, it’s Paul Strong at the wheel of Master of Disaster. This weekend, was an exception. New protege to the team, and former driver of the Monster Mutt Rottweiler, JR Seasock, got his chance to perform for the home state crowd. Seasock’s father, John, had so many years at the wheel of trucks like Sudden Impact, T-Maxx and Batman at Bloomsburg, it added more pressure to the young man to try and make his family proud.
Vinny Venom was ready to sink in his teeth with Snake Bite, but this time the “black and green striking machine” had a fresh chassis. Venom’s usual truck was getting upgrades in May, and the truck wasn’t ready for competition by the time Lima was to begin. Teammate Andy Anaconda allowed him to use the older chassis for the weekend, so long as he brought it back the same way it arrived.
Turns out, Venom lived up to his word and the truck returned no worse for wear. But now, the longer stance, and better suspension, of his truck was getting a workout on the large infield.
Completing the field were the colors of America, with a familiar name on the bedsides. Larry Swim was back to try and extend his streak from a season ago of sweeping Bloomsburg at the wheel of the Lucas Oil Bigfoot.
The track crew decided to change things up slightly for the infield this season. The racing lanes turned into one large tunnel. Trucks would start facing a drop into a two-foot trench before then going upward over the first hill. On the backside, the hill goes back deep into the earth and comes back up to what could be considered “ground level.” Coming back out the hole, a small bump potentially upsets the tires before the drivers go full-throttle to the finish line.
Unlike Lima, the entire first day at the farigrounds in Pennsylvania was picturesque. Sun was out, a few clouds popped up, but the fans came out by the thousands. One minor threat of rain was seen right prior to show time, with a few puckering drops at one point. But, when the evening show on Friday began, the skies decided to cooperate this time for competition.
The biggest surprise of the first round came when Noelke, who won the final event in Lima, surprised everyone when he fell to defeat from his teammate in Gerding.
Venom moved easily past Rettew, while Swim made his mark in his matchup against Seasock. Venom’s semi-final round against Gerding was an easy pass to the final, while Swim took out Noelke after the Tail Gator got a second chance via the fast loser bracket.
It was the original rivalry on the Penda series in the 1990’s, and it got injected with a major jolt last season when the snake made it’s return. Now, the newest installment of good vs. evil, Bigfoot vs. Snake Bite, was about to be shown. Venom knew his chances were good, but Swim achieved a clean sweep last season at Bloomsburg, and won five of six events at the fairgrounds in the last two years.
This time, despite getting the early jump, Swim powered out of the second hole onto ground level and pulled even with the Snake. Heading into the final ramp, deadlocked in a door-to-door battle, Swim nailed the hill, while Venom soared high.
It was so close to call both video and timing needed to be looked at to determine the winner. When it was done, it was Swim being declared the winner, extending his Bloomsburg streak to four consecutive wins, and now was 6-for-7 in final round appearances at the fairgrounds.
- Round 1: General Tire def. Tail Gator; Snake Bite def. Stinger; Bigfoot def. Master of Disaster
- Semi-Finals: Snake Bite def. General Tire; Bigfoot def. Tail Gator (Fast Loser)
- Finals: Bigfoot def. Snake Bite
Freestyle gave everyone a thrill, including the drivers, because of the infield at the fairgrounds being so wide, so much space, there was many opportunities to make something happen.
Rettew had the biggest splash going third in the lineup, pulling off a strong wheelie off the blaster car on the frontstretch. Noelke followed that by pulling a pair of wheelies coming down the backside of the lifted van stack right by the stage, giving the crowd more of a thrill and applause.
But Venom decided to one-up everyone and he was skying his Snake over every obstacle in the infield, plus drifting the Raptor machine around each corner like a late model. It got to the point where one of the fangs on the front end got bent down, but still the beast was roaring loud and proud to the approval of the Bloomsburg crowd.
However, an angry Swim was remaining to showcase his skills, and Bigfoot #21 was out with vengeance. Swim was hitting obstacles sideways, the truck twisting in the air but recovering to hit the next set of obstacles. The patriotic Bigfoot machine then pulled a pair of spectacular wheelstands down the frontstretch to delight the crowd and hear the biggest applause of everyone, capturing his second freestyle victory of the year.
Saturday’s action will have a pair of shows for the monsters to run at. The first comes right at the start of the afternoon, as the Noon start time will include the second round of racing plus freestyle. Then at 8:30, the biggest freestyle finale of the year will take place, complete with post-show fireworks.
POINT STANDINGS (3 of 8 Events)
Event Wins in Brackets
- Bigfoot 400 
- Snake Bite 360
- Tail Gator 280 
- Stinger 200
- Master of Disaster 160
- General Tire 160
- Bigfoot – 2
- Snake Bite – 1