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Raminator Rolls but Rallies for Final Bloomsburg Victory

Battered and broken, but repaired and redemption described Mark Hall's Sunday in Bloomsburg.

When the final show of the weekend comes for any 4-Wheel Jamboree, it’s both sad and also exciting.  It’s sad because the final day means things are drawing to a close, and people are realizing they have another duty to tend to come Monday.  But, it’s also exciting because often the last day of the weekend is the “go for it” day for the monster truck teams.

With most not having any event slated for another six or so days, it was the time for every driver to let it all hang out and go for it on the final show.

But, things on the final day at the Bloomsburg jamboree did not get off to the start anyone expected.

All weekend long, the temperatures were rather high, and the humidity was making it unbearable for many.  Vendors selling water, ice cream, and lemonade were getting a profit as everyone that needed nourishment certainly got it.  But, the other side of that is with it being so humid, any approaching front could cause a bit of trouble.

That is exactly what happened in the early morning hours in the Bloomsburg area.  In the very early hours of Sunday, before the sun decided to show itself, a little sprinkle was seen coming in, but nothing to worry over.  That is until the sun came up and the clouds decided to become the bearer of Niagara Falls.  It poured, and poured, and poured even more that the Bloomsburg Fairgrounds became a flooded pond.  The infield low spot that has been in turns 3 and 4 since the beginning became a lake.  In fact, prior to the mud bog competition that started the day’s festivities, a flock of geese decided to fly in and actually take a swim.  Show officials got a good laugh, but they also knew suddenly they had probably the most work they’ve had to do all weekend on the track.

What was a benefit is that the weather forecast for the day improved as time passed.  By 10:30 a.m. the rain had stopped, not to mention most of the flooding outside the performance area, had drained, and the skies remained overcast.

By Noon, the skies broke up and the sun finally showed itself and the feeling of relief was almost overwhelming.

The final performance of the monsters came at 3 p.m.  Everyone had a close eye on the black, blue, and silver Super Duty of Mike Vaters Jr, as he pushed Overkill Evolution to the extreme during the day prior, pulling off a hat trick by taking racing, afternoon freestyle, and the evening freestyle firework showcase.

His Sunday began with a match up alongside his dad in Black Stallion.  It was a race Vaters Jr. ended up winning, but it appeared something was not correct with the truck, as he rolled back to the pit, but not under power.  He continued to roll to the pits, but without pulling into his spot.

What happened ultimately was terminal.  The 572 cu. In. Roush-Yates engine powering the truck blew out the bottom end, as oil was draining down right from the pan.  In a flash, Overkill Evolution was out of the competition, and possibly saw his points lead in trouble.  However, it was far from the carnage that was coming.

After Kurt Kraehmer made it to the semi-finals in General Tire, a heavyweight race between Mark Hall in Raminator and Christian Norman in Bigfoot pulled to the line.  At the light, both left quick, but Hall poured on the power midway through, while Norman fell behind.  At the last jump, although slightly sideways, came across the line in victory.  But then, things took a dramatic turn in an instant.

Hall suddenly found himself on the right side tires, and he instantly hit the throttle to pull the truck down.  But, the Firestone tires were still digging, and gravity was not on Hall’s side, as suddenly the nose caught the dirt, sending the Ram Laramie Limited into a violent cartwheel that sheered the body to pieces.

Norman was already stopped thanks to the RII being killed, and he was the first one to the truck, already working to get Hall extracted from the roll cage.  After what seemed like an eternity, Hall was pulled out from the truck, and by all appearances, he was alright, despite the violent impact.

The safety crews checked him over, and he was giving all indications he was in good health.  The truck, however, did not look it.  The track operators righted the now destroyed truck, but mechanically, everything was intact.  Except for a slightly flattened tire, and some steering woes, Hall climbed back on board, and drove the truck off the track.  Despite all the damage, he was the winner.  And, as a surprise, Norman was coming back as the fast loser…or so everyone thought.

Bigfoot came to a halt after slowly rolling the final hill, because the rear driveshaft broke right down the middle, and that meant repairs were needed just to make it back to the field.

So now the officials were in a bit of a bind, as they had to get the next round reset.  So, in a sense, officials decided to go back and reset the bracket.  Kraehmer advanced to the second round, but because of Vaters Jr. breaking, the rules dictated the return of the second-fastest loser as the alternate.  In this case it was the man who Kraehmer defeated in the first round, Tim Mente in Storm Damage.  Same matchup, although swapped lanes, but the same result as Kraehmer moved to his first-career final round.

Hall then stunned everyone as he and the entire pit area got his truck repaired to make it to the line.  The Bigfoot team hustled to try and get the Ford Raptor repaired to make it to the line.  The 3-minute clock was ticking, and time ran out.  Hall got a bye run to the finals, and in doing so now shed the cab of the truck to the ground.  The only body panels he had secured on the chassis for the final round, although with duct tape, were the bedsides and tailgate.

It didn’t matter how it looked, because Hall and his teammate pulled to the line for the finals, and after everything he endured on this afternoon, and not seeing this moment since the final race in Indianapolis back in 2015, Hall finally broke into victory lane at a jamboree.  In doing so, he ended a drought at Bloomsburg dating back to 2014, and also took over the points lead from Vaters Jr.  With Norman unable to make the second round, he fell behind by an entire bracket, and now has more points to make up for the final weekend.

SUNDAY RESULTS:

  • Round 1:  General Tire def. Storm Damage; Overkill Evolution def. Black Stallion; Raminator def. Bigfoot
  • Semi-Finals:  General Tire def. Storm Damage (Alternate); Raminator BYE RUN (Bigfoot broken)
  • Finals:  Raminator def. General Tire

 

What every fan was looking forward to was freestyle, and with five trucks still looking to make the run, it was a time to do everything possible to get the crowd roaring.

But, with a wet infield, and a bit of a river midway through the grass, traction was a bit difficult unless the trucks came to an area that had been worked down and hard-packed.  Luckily, Mente and Vaters set the standard early, and it gave the others a chance to see what the conditions were like.

After an abbreviated run from Hall, who was ready to load up and assess the damage back at the Illinois shop, Kraehmer tried everything he could to get a solid run from the General Tire machine, and did a decent job.  But, one man was left to go, and Norman was ready to rock because the crew repaired his golden truck, and he was set to put on a show.

Sadly, the truck wasn’t.  On fire-up, the engine backfired, sounding like a bullet leaving the barrel of a 30-30 rifle.  Norman’s brother, Phillip, along with long-time Bigfoot crewman Scott White immediately had Norman shut the truck down, and in that instant, the afternoon came to an end.  Officials gave the victory to Mente as he utilized the entire track, kept up decent momentum, and got some air under the tires mounted on the freshly-painted Chevy Square-body.

The Bloomsburg weekend came to a conclusion with three trucks needing repairs, and two needing an actual tow to the pit area in order to tire down and load into the trailer.

What is a major advantage for teams is the final jamboree weekend this year takes place in two months, meaning if they want to put on fresh pieces for that four-show weekend, they certainly have the perfect place to unleash the power.  The biggest infield, the most spectators, and an infamous motorsports city will welcome monster trucks come September 14-16.

The Indiana State Fairgrounds will host the season-finale O’Reilly Auto Parts 4-Wheel Jamboree Fall Nationals, and it will mark the return of Mat Dishman in the Rammunition, joining his fellow teammates.  In fact, despite missing the Bloomsburg, Dishman and Vaters are mathematically still in the hunt for the racing title.  However, that is shaping up to be a three-truck battle between Raminator, Bigfoot, and Overkill Evolution.

Vaters Jr, however, will enter Indianapolis with the greatest probability of winning freestyle.  Should he win any of the four freestyle sessions over the weekend, he automatically will be the champion.  If he doesn’t win a freestyle all weekend, the best that Hall or Norman can do is tie for the title should they sweep the weekend.  It ultimately comes down to making the equipment last, but putting on a performance that will make the crowd stand up and applaud the most.

Get your tickets now at 4WheelJamboree.com for this guaranteed high-powered battle to the finish.

 

SEASON STANDINGS
40 Points for each round, 40 for victory.  Racing wins in brackets, freestyle wins in italics.

  1. Raminator – 720 [1] 1
  2. Overkill Evolution – 640 [3] 5
  3. Lucas Oil Bigfoot – 520 [1] 1
  4. General Tire – 400
  5. Rammunition – 320 [1]
  6. Black Stallion – 320
  7. Storm Damage – 160 1

 

SPECIAL THANKS TO:

Lee Collins-WHR Motorsports

Emily Boden, Leah Burdette-Bonnier Corporation

Philip Norman, Christian Norman, Scott White-Bigfoot 4×4, Inc.

June Hall, Mark Hall, Chris Mrowka-Hall Brothers Racing

Mike Vaters-Vaters Motorsports

Marty Garza, Mike Vaters Jr-Overkill Evolution

Jeff Luckey-Luckey Photo

Katelin White-Katelin White Photography

About Dustin Parks

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