As is common with the 4-Wheel Jamboree, the second day of the weekend festivities usually draws in the most spectators, and means that there’s more opportunity to interact with the teams, vendors, sponsors and more importantly to enjoy the time together. The second day of the 2018 Lima Jamboree at the Allen County Fairgrounds was no exception, as the fans were ready to attend the big day of action.
The thing was, the fans were ready, but Mother Nature was ready with a plan of it’s own.
Saturday’s spectator gates opened at 9 a.m. The problem became, the skies opened up at the same time. Despite the effort to avoid the rain by moving the jamboree to a later date, the skies decided to play their laughing card and dumped buckets of water onto the infield, and every walkway that the spectators could go to. Many took shelter under the grandstands, while others stayed in their vehicles, and some even found unique spots like barns, offices, or even canopies.
Fortunately for everyone, the storm passed relatively quickly, and festivities began almost as normal, except for the track crew’s efforts.
Lee Collins and the Family Events track staff went hard at work with the skid steer, and bulldozers to try and skim off the layer of mud that had developed on the top of the racing surface, as well as all the moguls that the tough truck course used. Meanwhile, the monster truck teams decided to keep the taps over the trucks so that the water did not hurt the electrical systems. A few had some minor repairs to do, namely Mat Dishman and the Hall Brothers team that had to do some final rechecks on his Rammunition Ram 1500.
Despite having a near catastrophe roll in racing, he marched his way back to victory in the opening program, but the team played it safe and rechecked all the steering components in the rear of the truck. With a completely set truck, he was ready to go 2-for-2.
Somehow, the skies decided to clear in time for the afternoon program, and the fans were extremely happy to oblige the beautiful skies by filling the grandstands for the first of two shows.
What they got was a man who had never competed at the jamborees before, but has a lineage to hold up in his own way. Michael Vaters Jr. brought out the incredible looking Overkill Evolution Ford Super Duty to go against three Hall Brothers trucks, Team Bigfoot’s Christian Norman, and even his own father, the Black Stallion himself, Michael Vaters.
He decided to make an impact. He made his way past Mark Hall in the Raminator in the first round, despite having to swap lanes due to a mix up, or mind games from Hall. He then took down Norman in the semi finals when Norman was asleep at the line.
In a bit of irony, he met right back up with Hall in the finals, the ultimate test to see if he was ready for the battle on the season that was coming. It turns out, he was ready, because he blasted past Hall on the line and saw the Raminator get loose just out of the corner of his helmet. Vaters Jr. put the newest Overkill truck in victory lane, something truck owner Marty Garza certainly would appreciate as he was unable to make the show due to a family commitment.
Just to ensure he was in it to win it, Vaters Jr. again roared out for freestyle in the last position, having to try and follow up some intense runs from Norman, Hall and Dishman.
He did so in fast fashion, because the truck was beginning to blow off some steam, an indication that the truck was getting hot, and could be extremely bad if he continued. But, the run included crossing across the entire course, many big air hits on the hillsides, and even using the turning tires for the tough truck course as obstacles, since this year’s infield had no cars to smash down. The afternoon belonged to Team Evo, and the fans certainly were happy with that.
- Round 1: Lucas Oil Bigfoot def. General Tire, Overkill Evolution def. Raminator, Rammunition def. Black Stallion.
- Semi Finals: Overkill Evolution def. Lucas Oil Bigfoot, Raminator (Fast Loser) def. Rammunition.
- Finals: Overkill Evolution def. Raminator.
The unique thing with Saturday’s festivities, the monsters were not done. There was still one event remaining, an all-freestyle showdown between all six trucks.
What also wasn’t done…rain.
A few hours after the opening show concluded, and the drivers were at their haulers, the skies decided to do another hit of rain for the fans. At this point, there was even wonder of if there would be an evening show for the monsters. But, in a surprise to many, the rain decided to let up a little bit and eventually stopped enough to get the final class of mud bogs in, and the drivers of the monsters were summoned to their vehicles. The trucks never moved from the pits, so the bodies were relatively clean, at least the hood and roof area, while the chassis and sides still carried the sticky mud from the early performance.
But, the trucks rolled out to the front stretch, and after hearing the National Anthem as it was done by Whitney Houston at the Super Bowl, the trucks fired up one more time for the night. Freestyle was on!
It started out a bit slow, as both Vaters and Kurt Kraehmer, the man at the wheel of the General Tire machine, had strong runs, but were tentative as they were the first ones on the track following the rain.
Things then got intense as Mark Hall showed why he is a master at donuts in the Raminator, thrilling the crowd despite his black and grey body taking on a malt chocolate look. Norman then came out, showing that the newest man to pilot Bigfoot 18 was up to the task. The new gold body was getting covered in grime, but he was on it and the crowd at that point felt he was the leader.
Dishman then came out and put on one of the more fast-paced runs of his career at the jamborees, so intense that the first series of hits made it hard to stop…seriously. His Firestone tires were locked up under braking, but he slid in the wet grass into one of the loader tires in the corner, and the tire got hit hard enough it shoved into the light pole and caused the lighting and wires to sway.
Everyone in the infield was worried that power would go out, but luckily everything stayed upright, and Dishman continued to put on a solid performance.
But, the final run of the night would be the one that defined the day.
Vaters Jr. slowly rolled out from his pit stall, but the moment he hit the performing area, things got intense. The chassis was soaking up every single hit with ease. He crossed the track first hitting the hillsides of the tough truck course, then came back by hitting the tires a second time, and even crossed across the Terracross course. The plateau on the frontstretch saw some major air with each hit, but he needed to find something to define his run.
He found it thanks to the step up hill in turn 1, and the lane to it’s right that is also part of the Terracross track. No one dared to go full tilt to the hill because of the drop off, and the hole the lane is in. Not to mention, at this point the hole suddenly became Lake Lima from all the rain.
Turns out, Vaters Jr. didn’t care, and he was lining right up for it. One hit sent the truck sky high, and when he brought it down, he landed right in the water, splashing the muddy liquid everywhere, but doing so brought the crowd to it’s feet. He then came back the other way, plowed right into the wet mix and climbed back out from the hole right to the front of the stands.
The entire crowd got on it’s feet, roaring it’s approval as Vaters climbed from the truck, pounded on the door and then walked around pointing at the fans as they continued to cheer with intensity.
He won racing, then freestyle, to start the day. Vaters clearly had the truck to beat on Saturday, and no one could touch Team Evo. It was a clean sweep for the team based in Maryland, and Vaters put the entire field on notice, as he was showing that he’s worth being in the conversation for both championships.
With even more weather possible in the near future, one last event remains on the weekend. Sunday’s monster showcase takes place at 3:30 p.m. and is usually the show where each truck has nothing to lose, so they let it all hang out without worrying about the time needed to repair breakage.
Can the Halls get back to victory, or can Vaters continue the streak? Or is there someone else waiting to make an impact? It will all be determined in just over 15 hours.
40 Points for each round, 40 for victory. Racing wins in brackets, freestyle wins in italics.
- Rammunition – 240 
- Overkill Evolution – 240  2
- Raminator – 200 1
- Lucas Oil Bigfoot – 200
- General Tire – 80
- Black Stallion – 80