The outdoor season for the monster truck industry is one that many teams enjoy a lot more than the first three months. For one, the outdoor season is not as hard on the teams as there’s less events, meaning there’s more opportunity to ensure that every event has the truck in the best shape for the fans.
It also means a bigger performance area to enjoy, which means larger obstacles, more room, and more risks.
Above all, it’s a more integrated setting where the fans can really be up close to the beasts, but also enjoy other activities to make an entire weekend of action filled with many types of vehicles, and events.
No group does these kind of shows better than those at the 4-Wheel Jamboree, who always seem to draw in the crowds for all types of truck competitions. Whether it’s showing off their daily driver or hitting hills to prove how tough a machine they have, to even getting down and dirty in the pit, a jamboree continues to be a home where fans can get delight in all kinds of trucks. Fans ride around on wagons with their fathers pulling them around to see all the vehicles on display, and others ride out on their side-X-side to get a move on the competition.
However, no jamboree is complete without a field of monster trucks that is ready to put on a weekend of high-flying, dirt-slinging, carnage-creating action.
Bonnier Corporation has spent months trying to perfect the field of trucks that will compete for supremacy in racing and freestyle for 2018. The lineup has officially been set, and it is a combination of some of the meanest trucks and drivers in the sport. It has familiar names, some returning power, and even some freshness to the field. Here’s a look at the field that will compete on three different weekends this spring, summer and fall:
To many, a jamboree is not complete without having the truck that started this industry in attendance. In 2003, when fans heard this truck was not expected to compete at all as part of this series, there was shock and disappointment by all. A year later, when the team returned, fans delighted in seeing the original monster back in action.
These days, the original monster is the highlight of the jamborees, always getting the most cheers, jubilation and appreciation.
The last four years, the Bigfoot team has been represented by it’s now-lead driver, Larry Swim, with sponsorship of Lucas Oil holding true every season. This year, the Bigfoot team has yet another entirely new Lucas Oil body to showcase for the new season. Since 2014, the Lucas Oil Bigfoot truck has donned the colors of the American Flag, with last year’s version having a close look with the flag itself, with the stars and stripes being represented in every way.
But this year’s look is a much different scheme than any Bigfoot truck has ran for the jamborees. The new design has a look similar to the Summit Racing design, but the body of the Raptor trophy truck is golden and delightful for the fans, especially in the daylight. The unique look will certainly catch all the eyes of fans in the stands.
No driver has been announced yet, but no matter who straps in, the opposition will be on high alert in order to achieve victory.
The Foot team has decided on who will be representing the organization at the three jamborees this year, and it’s someone that many didn’t expect. While it has been Swim over the last four years carrying the Lucas Oil colors, this year the team went in a different direction, and decided on it’s newest shoe to go after a championship.
Bigfoot for 2018 will be represented by Christian Norman. Although not a rookie when it comes to driving a monster, this is his first season with the original team, and to be given the chance to represent the team at it’s biggest shows of the year certainly is an honor for the driver, but also creates a lot of pressure. Over the last three years, the Lucas Oil Bigfoot has won two racing championships.
To take over the ride from Swim will be a challenge, but considering the truck Norman is driving has been piloted by three past champions of the team, Swim, Dan Runte and Josh Gibson, he certainly knows he’s got a very strong machine that can and should get the job done.
No matter what jamboree fans attended last year, each one felt there was something missing, a piece of the truck puzzle that just didn’t make it complete. That piece that was missing turned out to be a big one…Hall Brothers Racing.
Heading into the year, the two sides never found a way to get the HEMI power to the track for the year, and in a lot of ways, it lit a fire under the fans. The campaign to bring back the team from Illinois began almost immediately, with many posting on every social media platform to bring back the 2000-horsepower beasts to the jamborees.
The fans made their voices heard…and it worked.
Hall Brothers Racing is back for 2018, and leading the way for their field of trucks is the man who can still claim he is the fastest man in the sport. His 99.1 MPH clocking in 2014 is still his greatest accomplishment to date, and Mark Hall makes it clear that no matter what else he does in this sport, it will forever be the one moment that will top them all.
Fans who love the RAM trucks will be jumping for joy beyond words as the black and grey RAM is coming back, ready to take back the championship he has consistently dominated in his career.
Be prepared, because this may be a Ram Limited, but there is no limit on how much Hall is glad to be back on tour.
What is better than one RAM…how about two? Hall Brothers Racing was not holding back when they said they were coming back to compete, and if one is coming, the other is not far behind.
Hall’s long-time teammate, Mat Dishman, is bringing back his ever popular Rammunition machine. The red and silver machine is coming back with a score to settle at the jamborees. When the 2016 season ended, Dishman came one round short of winning a championship against Larry Swim.
That same year, he had one of his most violent wrecks he’s ever experienced as a driver. That was at Bloomsburg when he launched off the last ramp and landed on the rear end and sheered off the left-rear tire.
It’s one of a couple huge wrecks that Dishman has experienced at the jamborees, and he is hoping to not go through anything like that again for the new season.
Although Dishman is only competing at two of the three shows on the season, he will certainly ensure the fans get a taste of his HEMI this season.
It’s always a joy to see a new truck debut at the jamborees, especially when the look it carries is of one of the most popular bodies ever made for trucks.
Although he is not a newcomer to the sport, this is a first for driver Tim Mente. The man at the wheel of the Storm Damage Chevrolet Square Body is competing for the first time in a monster at the jamborees. A former mud racer, he’s familiar with all these venues that Family Events will be stopping at, but it is the first time he is bringing his own equipment to compete.
Fans certainly will take to this truck rather quickly because the square body Chevrolet is one of the most popular looks ever made. The sleek body lines, the styling, and the design work no matter if the truck is sitting low to the ground or reaching to the skies.
Mente is bringing a beautiful piece that during the winter season was carrying a different look for a different promotion, but now is back to his own look and is ready to make his own impact.
Although this is a first showing at a jamboree, Mente has competed at the Monster Nationals during the summer, so fans are familiar with this truck and what he can do.
Now, he gets a chance to stretch the legs of the Storm Damage machine, even just for one weekend, and fans will certainly enjoy the experience.
Quite possibly just as shocking for the 2018 season of competition is the fact one team is returning to make a showing at the jamborees for the first time…in a decade.
For the first time since 2008, the 4-Wheel Jamboree is bringing back an old-school driver who is trying to bring back a lot of the old school fans in his own way. Mike Vaters has been in the sport of monster trucks for 36 years. A pioneer as one of a select few who began using the reverse gear to attack a set of cars, his Black Stallion has been a truck that has always given top performances at any given moment. But, the last few years, another passion of his has become evident.
As a driver who has seen so many innovations and changes in the sport, Vaters over the last couple years has made it a priority to resurrect some of the classic trucks the sport has seen dominate over the years.
His first two trucks to get the honor of being restored: the 1989 World Champion Equalizer, that he unveiled at the 2016 International Monster Truck Hall of Fame and Museum.
A Hall of Fame driver himself, he stepped up his restoration game big last November when he resurrected one of the first tubular chassis trucks in competition, the original Taurus racer that was piloted by Jack Wilman, his son Jack Jr, and nephew Eldon Depew. Jack Jr. drove the truck into the building, roaring up as though it was launching off the line.
Now, Vaters is bringing his own truck back out to compete, and fans are possibly anticipating a couple moves with the backup gear to stand apart from the rest.
In this instance, this is both a return and a debut. Every year, one truck gets to carry the torch for the title sponsor of the Monster Truck Thunder Drags, General Tire. But in 2016, to give a fresh look to the truck, an entirely new wrap was created for the truck, one that had a menacing look of a monster.
Fans enjoyed it, but after one year, a different team carried the colors in competition.
Now, the wild and menacing look of the General Tire will return to the team that debuted the new design two years ago. The third truck out of the Hall Brothers Racing camp, the RAM Heavy Duty will be carrying the torch, and the tires, for the General Tire brand.
What is different is the man at the wheel.
HBR’s newest shoe at the wheel, Kurt Kraehmer, is no stranger to these trucks. He has been a long-time crewman for the Halls at many shows, and last year got some time at the wheel of one of their four race trucks. He seemed to take to it right away, and spent a majority of the first three months of the year touring alongside Dishman, and seemed to improve every event.
Now that he’s got an outdoor season to hone his skills even more, and a major sponsor putting their confidence in him, it wouldn’t be surprising if the General hands out some orders of victory.
The final truck on this year’s tour has one of the most famous names in the sport to hold up. But he’s doing so in his own way, with another legend in the sport.
The son of the Black Stallion himself, Mike Vaters, the namesake of the family, Vaters II, found his own path to driving a truck through freestyle motocross, and he made connections. The connection that mattered the most, former driver but a mechanic extraordinare, Marty Garza.
Together, they built up the truck he debuted in 2014, Overkill Evolution, a tribute to Garza’s time in the sport and how it has changed over the years.
Vaters II piloted the truck to a Double down Showdown championship that same year, and a season later stunned the world with a World Freestyle championship. The truck’s suspension and setup have proven to be one of the best-handling in the sport, and now Vaters II gets to compete alongside his dad at a show he’s only attended as a fan, and a few times as a performer.
Make no mistake about it, this Super Duty is extremely primed to win races, and championships. This rookie will not back down, for anyone.
Tickets for each jamboree are available now, along with the ability to register your vehicle for competition. Go to 4WheelJamboree.com for all the information, ticket links, and schedule of events when they are available.
2018 4-Wheel Jamboree Schedule
- JUNE 8-10: O’Reilly Auto Parts 4-Wheel and Off Road Jamboree Spring Nationals
- Allen County Fairgrounds-Lima, OH
- JULY 13-15: A&A Auto Parts 4-Wheel and Off Road Jamboree Summer Nationals
- Bloomsburg Fairgrounds-Bloomsburg, PA
- SEPTEMBER 14-16: O’Reilly Auto Parts 4-Wheel and Off Road Jamboree Fall Nationals
- Indiana State Fairgrounds-Indianapolis, IN