When everything is on the line, and it means having to do your job and hope something happens to another, the pressure is on. It’s normally something that would be discussed at the NFL playoffs when it comes time to decide the wild card teams in either conference make their case to have even a small opportunity to make it to the Super Bowl.
It can happen in motorsports as well, and this weekend, it would be the deciding factor in determining who would win the 2018 General Tire Monster Truck Thunder Drags championship.
Freestyle was already locked up by Mike Vaters II, however his team needed to do a lot of work overnight to prepare for the final day of the season. A pair of blown tires, an axle, planetary, and a pair of blown shocks all needed fixed in order to return to action. Luckily, the crew immediately went to work once the machine was pushed back to the garage area. Even his dad chipped it by allowing him to take a pair of his BKT tires off the rim and remount on his pair of rims, while Vaters would have his spare Goodyears mounted on the Black Stallion to finish the weekend.
Meanwhile, the remaining teams had to prepare for a final round of competition, and the teams of the Raminator and Bigfoot had the biggest opportunity to win a championship. For one, the task was easy. The other, needed cards to fall.
Mark Hall was in the best position, as all he needed to do is go rounds and simply make it to the finals. At that point, it didn’t matter what happened in the title race, as once he left the line, a clean pass would mean a championship, which after missing last year, would be an extremely proud accomplishment.
Christian Norman needed a bit of help in order to bring the championship home for the Bigfoot team. He needed to Hall to lose in the first round, while Norman had to finish out the season in victory lane.
All the teams came out with the skies shining bright to finish the 2018 season with a lot of energy. Right away, the championship would become interesting as following Mat Dishman taking a victory in Rammunition over his teammate, Kurt Kraehmer in General Tire, the two men that were going after a championship would square off in order to determine what would happen next.
Both trucks left the line hard, kicking dust and dirt into the sky. At the finish it was extremely close, and no one had confirmation as to who was victorious. Officials got the call, and moving into the next round was the gold Ford Raptor of Norman.
After Vaters II took out his dad, the wait was on for the fast loser, and with such a close run, Hall was not done yet, as his title hopes still were alive.
For Norman, his focus was to take out another Ram to have a chance. If he lost, his championship hopes were over. Luckily, he found the grip needed right away, and pushed past Dishman to the final round. Now, he needed to sit back, and wait.
No one really knew what the title picture looked like, as all they were focused on was the next round. For Hall, he knew the race against Overkill Evolution was a critical one. Hall went to the left lane, a lane he wasn’t running much during the weekend, but felt comfortable when the time mattered. So, he lined up, and saw to his right the purple and black nose of Vaters II, and he knew it was game on.
Off the line each ran hard, maybe a slight edge to Hall, but the right lane began pulling back. At the finish line, it was so close no one was certain who had it.
Then the announcement came over the microphone, and Norman’s hopes were alive. It would become an all-Ford final to close out the season.
It all came down to one final run, one final opportunity, and for Norman, the biggest race of his career.
Norman took the left lane, and looked over at his right briefly to see his competition. Afterwards, it was all about focusing on the lights. Norman got a slight advantage on the line, but not enough to feel comfortable. Both trucks hammered their way to the finish line, kicking up the Indiana dust in order to find out who would close out the year on top.
Or did he?
With Hall making it to the semi-finals, and losing to Vaters II, that earned him 80 points for the round. Entering Sunday’s action, he held the lead at 880 points, a two-round advantage on Norman. The Foot team needed to hope that somehow, Hall faltered in the first round in order to make it to the top. But, at the same time, the Bigfoot team lost a critical 40 points in Bloomsburg by not being able to make the semi-finals on Sunday afternoon due to the broken driveshaft.
So what was the final call?
The Family Events officials deemed that for the first time in the series history, there would be co-champions on the racing front. Both Hall and Foot because of them earning the exact amount of points would be
- Round 1: Rammunition def. General Tire; Lucas Oil Bigfoot def. Raminator; Overkill Evolution def. Black Stallion
- Semi-Finals: Lucas Oil Bigfoot def. Rammunition; Overkill Evolution def. Raminator
- Finals: Lucas Oil Bigfoot def. Overkill Evolution
All that was left to do on this afternoon was close the show with a freestyle spectacular to end the season. Although Vaters and Kraehmer had solid performances, it wasn’t till Dishman and Hall hit the track to show what a Ram can really do.
Hall certainly put on a great performance to be proud of as he drove off the track to get ready to tire down. But, on this day, the teams that are champion got to close things out.
Up first was Norman who found his groove in the #18 chassis, sliding it across the infield every chance he got, similar to former Bigfoot driver Josh Gibson, the former driver of the #18 chassis. Norman completed his run with a few strong hits on the near hillsides that skied the truck above the infield stage, and then a wave to the crowd. It was a strong effort, but one truck remained.
After getting everything repaired from the previous night, Vaters II wanted to go out in style, but he also decided that he tore up a lot of equipment over the weekend, he wanted to take it easy.
That’s not to say his run didn’t live up to his reputation, as he still got decent air off each hillside, but he was not going completely over the limit of what his truck can handle. Ultimately, he needed one maneuver that could set him apart from the field on this day.
He managed to get that on his final hit of the day, popping the nose up in the air and riding a wheelstand into the runoff area into turn 1. It got the crowd into it, and seemed to be the saving grace for his run.
Through 12 freestyle events for the 2018 season, Vaters II officially took home eight of those wins, culminating with the final win of the year on Sunday. That is a 75 percent win rate for the season, outrageous for a newcomer to teh series, but then again, this isn’t a typical newcomer to the jamboree series.
And now, the trucks have been taken off their big tires, put into their small transporters, and are back on the road home. There is no other event to run, or race to win.
The jamboree season has come to an end, and now with the fall season approaching, many teams are ready to head back to their respective shops, tear down the equipment, replace anything that has worn out or has outlasted it’s use, and even update some parts to make the new season even better, and every truck even tougher.
Be sure to watch for the 2019 dates for the 4-Wheel Jamboree series, followed by the field of trucks that will once again go after a pair of championships.
Visit 4WheelJamboree.com to see full results from the Indianapolis weekend, along with photos and videos from a spectacular season finale.
40 Points for each round, 40 for victory. Racing wins in brackets, freestyle wins in italics.
- Lucas Oil Bigfoot – 960  1
- Raminator – 960  1
- Overkill Evolution – 940  8
- Rammunition – 600  1
- General Tire – 560
- Black Stallion – 480
- Storm Damage – 160 1