The two-month wait had finally come and gone. After spending an entire weekend on the dirt in DuQuoin, Illinois, the WHR Monster Nationals had a long wait until their season finale. Over two months passed before the haulers and the loaders came in to set up for the final event of the year.
One of the nicest advantages was the area the tour was coming to for it’s final event couldn’t be more picturesque. Across from the arena, a gorgeous lacrosse field, where two teams entertained a pair of NCAA powerhouse schools for most of the afternoon. Down the street, a hockey arena, plus a volleyball and wrestling complex that has national titles lined all across the walls.
A baseball field is across the way. And what other building shares the arena’s parking lot…a little venue that annually in the fall will hold 107,000 people roaring loud for college football.
The season finale for the Monster Nationals came to the heart of central Pennsylvania, and took a pit stop at Penn State University to roar into the Bryce Jordan Center. Pat Chambers wasn’t coaching his basketball team, and Cael Anderson wasn’t there overseeing his next field of potential national champion wrestlers. It’s certain that James Franklin was looking at his summer workout schedule for his 2018 Nittany Lion football team. But on this night, the stars weren’t on the mat, hardwood, nor gridiron. Instead, it was a concrete floor, 12 cars, one van and a field of five of the strongest monsters that took center stage on Saturday night.
Entering the BJC for competition, Derick Anson in his Heavy Hitter, who was looking to accomplish the racing championship after a stellar season. His team truck, Basher, was being piloted by a Pennsylvania native, the son of former driver and world champion John Seasock, J.R. Debuting for the first time at an indoor Monster Nationals event was Brandon Derrow, piloting the gorgeous 20th Anniversary edition of Bad News Travels Fast.
The big guns still came in as Geremie Dishman again was given the task of holding true to the RAM team, piloting the No. 11 Hall Brothers Racing chassis donned with the Raminator RAM Laramie body. Finally, Team Bigfoot was in attendance and decided to let a man that spent a lot of time crewing, but has just over a year at the wheel, take charge. The No. 14 Bigfoot chassis, carrying the classic Bigfoot blue body, was A.J. Straamann.
An excited and eager crowd filed in for the pit party, and it became clear that the amount of fans that decided to come witness the event were longing for the Monster Nationals to return. It was in 2016 when they last came to the university, and when they didn’t return a year later, many were sad. Not on this night, an ecstatic and near full crowd got to their seats, and were ready to witness an intense battle on this night.
Wheelies started the night off, as the fresh cars were going to get broken in right away with each truck getting a pair of hits, one on each lane.
Every driver hammered the throttle, skying to the roof and staring at the Penn State logo that was on the underside of the center screen. The one that did it better than anyone was Anson. His Heavy Hitter Chevrolet was roaring loud thanks to his long exhaust, and he figured out that the key was not just height, but carrying far across the stacks. Both hits saw him go from the first car, to nearly the fourth car in each line. First win of the night went to Anson.
But he was far from done.
Qualifying for the racing bracket was crucial for all, because the fastest truck had the easiest path, since the first round meant a bye run into the semi finals.
Anson wasn’t going to risk running against competition in the opening round. When he went out, the fastest truck on the clock to that point was Straamann in Bigfoot, but Anson found the grip on the concrete thanks to his Tredwear SIR tires, going to the top of the board by one tenth of a second, and achieving the pole position for the racing bracket.
The competition did not slow down one bit, because immediately once qualifying concluded, the trucks were again run through the remote ignition interrupter in order for the next round of action, and fans that love to hear the engines scream got their wish. It was time to get some cyclones roaring in the donut contest.
Anson was the last one to go again in the competition, but his truck is not set up as well for spinning cyclones. But one truck that has constantly done well over the years when it comes to screaming loud, has HEMI power to do so.
Dishman has not been with his former team on a consistent basis the last few years, but when he is called up to climb in the seat, there is no doubt he will push the Raminator to its full potential.
He did just that when the HEMI engine screamed loud that the headers were almost glowing red.
Dishman put an end to Anson’s winning streak and took home the donut contest on this night, but quickly had to turn his attention to the racing bracket. Meanwhile, Anson knew he needed to have a strong night of racing since he had the potential of winning a title. Entering the night, Anson found himself 50 points out of the lead, which was held by Snake Bite. With Kris Kopperhead and Sid Sidewinder elsewhere, it appeared there would be no snake to cause chaos in the pits, and Anson had all the reason to feel a title was in his future.
All he needed to do to at least achieve a tie with the Snake Bite team was to make it through the first round. But, in order to achieve the title he needed to make it to the final round of racing.
His first round bye certainly helped. Then in the semi-finals, his task was to take down Derrow in the other Silverado beast. Anson thanks to a fast qualifying pass decided to take the same lane he ran in the first round, the blue lane. It seemed the blue lane was having a better handle than the white, as any truck that was in the white lane through the first round was getting higher instead of farther down the track.
He worked his way to the line, and Derrow did as well. At the hit of the throttle, each truck launched hard, and surprisingly Derrow was able to keep his Bad News machine low to keep up with Anson, but Anson’s slight jump on the light gave him just enough to achieve the win.
That win was enough to officially say he would win the Monster Nationals racing title, giving him his first title with the Bonnier Corporation group.
The opposite side of the bracket saw Dishman again run hard, and strong, taking out Seasock who moved into the semi-finals from being the fastest loser. Ironically enough, he was against Dishman in the first round and thought this would be an excellent chance to get back at it, and face his teammate in the finals. But, the old-school Chevrolet was no match for the RAM, and Dishman would power his way into the finals.
The two trucks that had the most success on the night now met in the title round, with one hoping to get his first win of the year, and the other wanting to win a race and a title in the same night.
Each truck left even, hammering the car stacks practically at the same moment. Anson powered as hard as he could, Dishman just the same, but at the finish, it was the truck with a dog on the side. The Heavy Hitter won the night, achieving the racing win and the racing title all in one.
Things finally came down to what the crowd wanted to see. The track was cleared, and the freestyle motocross ramp was moved out of the way. It was time to have the entire track open for action. It was time to freestyle.
Straamann started things off with an extremely solid run, including the first hits on the center van stack, each which led to a short slap wheelie that saw the back of the chassis drag on the concrete. Quite a way to open up the final competition on the night. Seasock followed in the Basher, which had a classic look of a rat rod since the tires were still dirty from earlier this season, and mud stuck to a flat black and red body. But, he didn’t have enough on this night for a win.
Derrow certainly enjoyed running hard on the floor of the BJC, as he hit everything in sight and never let up. He finished by parking right on the center stack, giving a wave to the fans in appreciation for his first time at the venue.
Ending the night were the trucks that had won everything available on this night.
Dishman came out roaring hard, slinging the RAM Laramie on many occasions, but one hard hit set the truck sideways and he immediately pulled into the pits. The crew ran over following his early exit in freestyle to take a quick look from the pit stall. The hit set the truck sideways and seemed to cause a problem with the sway bar on both front and rear, which when sitting still saw the truck leaning a good six or eight inches down on the left side. It is something that happens a lot in the industry, but if ran could cause more damage to the suspension and steering. Rather than risk it, Dishman pulled in and ended the run.
Anson then fired up and did a parade lap to the delight of the crowd, and then it was on. He punished the track on this night, plowing into each obstacle not just one way, but many, including a few cross-track runs. He then nailed the center van stack and stopped before getting into the pit area.
Suddenly he jammed the transmission into reverse, and went back after the same stack, the only hit of the night that came in reverse, and it thrilled the audience.
There was never a doubt in this instance who was victorious on this night. Wheelies, qualifying, racing and freestyle…Anson had an excellent night, and probably wants to come back to Penn State in the near future. Not to bad for a Wildcat from Kentucky.
- Wheelie Competition: Derick Anson, Heavy Hitter
- Fast Qualifier: Derick Anson, Heavy Hitter
- Donut Contest: Geremie Dishman, Raminator
- Racing Results
- ROUND 1-Raminator def. Basher, Bad News Travels Fast def. Bigfoot, Heavy Hitter Bye-Run
- SEMI FINALS-Raminator def. Basher (fast loser), Heavy Hitter def. Bad News Travels Fast
- FINALS-Heavy Hitter def. Raminator
- Freestyle: Derick Anson, Heavy Hitter
Bonnier Corporation is now taking a much needed month off to prepare for their second half of the season. Normally, their next week of action comes in mid-May when the 4-Wheel Jamboree season takes on a new campaign. This year, on the contrary, it has a bit of a longer wait.
The outdoor season will start in June because the promotion company wanted an opportunity to possibly have better weather for the fans. In two of the last three seasons, the opening jamboree has been hampered extremely bad with rain, last year to the point where part of the show got pushed back hours when the entire area got hammered with a thunder shower.
Hoping for better weather, and a better experience for the paying participants and patrons, the opening show of the year got pushed ahead four weeks in the hopes of better skies and a better turnout.
Strap in, the summer tour is coming up quickly. Check out 4WheelJamboree.com to get all the event info on where to catch the outdoor portion of the 2018 Family Events season.
- Snake Bite (3)
- War Wizard (2)
- Heavy Hitter (2)
- Bigfoot-Schnell (1)
- Bigfoot-Tweedy (1)
- Tail Gator (5)
- Bigfoot-Schnell (1)
- War Wizard (1)
- Incinerator (1)
- Raminator (1)
Racing (50 points for show, 75 for finals, 100 for victory)
- Heavy Hitter 475 (3 wins)
- Snake Bite 425 (2 wins)
- Bigfoot-Schnell 400 (2 wins)
- Tail Gator 375
- Basher 350 (1 win)
- Raminator 350
- Bigfoot-Tweedy 225 (1 win)
- Midnight Rider 150
- Incinerator 150
- War Wizard 100
- Bigfoot-Straamann 50
- Bad News Travels Fast-50
- War Wizard (3)
- Bigfoot (3)
- Heavy Hitter (2)
- Raminator (1)