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Monster Moments 2018: Skills and Talent Elevated the Industry

The monster industry has seen the skills and talents of it's drivers elevate beyond expectations.

The Christmas season is here in full force.  The only sports that are happening at this moment involve yard lines, backboards, and ice skates.  No one is even looking at the industries that involve power, an big tires.  Those teams are instead in the process of tearing down, resetting for a new season, and the grind of a week-in, week-out schedule that sees little time off and a lot of time away from the shop.

In doing so, the rebuild for the 2019 campaign also concludes a year where the industry has seen advances, changes, and a lot more focus on the drivers along with the machines.

Champions were crowned, and some decisions came with a lot of controversy, but it was a season that saw grandstands filled, smiles on faces from the youngest of children to the retirees that wanted to enjoy a thrill.  It saw some of the icons decide to step away into a new role, and the new guard show they can fill that role.

In it all, there were some moments that stood out beyond the rest.

All About Horsepower now takes a look back at the biggest moments that took this industry to another level and thrilled audiences beyond expectations.

 

The diesel industry now has two players in the monster game.
The diesel industry now has two players in the monster game.

One Diesel Gets Attention, the Other Gets Overshadowed

One of the most anticipated debuts of the season wasn’t just about the truck itself, but the engine.  It took longer than expected, but when Monster Jam rolled into Nashville, Tennessee, for the first tie at the same venue that the Tennessee Titans play their home games, it was time to blow some smoke.

The highly-awaited debut of the BroDozer machine was finally happening, and it came with the driving debut of one “Heavy D” at the wheel, who is one of the two brothers behind the popular “Diesel Brothers” program on television.

It was the first truck in Monster Jam to run a diesel engine, and it was running smooth as glass.  The truck still has some work to be done, but overall the attention it has gotten is well deserved.

The thing is, there’s another diesel that should also be credited a lot more in this industry, because it was the first to do it on a modern scale, and it came back with a major impact, and was a lot different than the previous editions.

Dave Radzierez has been involved with monsters for a shorter time than most, dating back to just the late 2000’s.  But in 2012, when he brought out the XDP machine with a modern chassis and a Cummins engine, it immediately got the attention of the industry, and since then the fan base he has earned has only grown.  The truck itself saw upgrades, and a newer look with the “Xtreme Diesel” design.  But, his schedule meant he needed to go back to an alcohol motor for a while.  But, he knew the time was coming to match up his truck with a diesel engine once again.

XDP-V4During the summer, that happened, and it was with an entirely new outlook.  The truck got a new Ram 1500 body, which matched the entirely new engine that went between the frame rails.

Radzierez added in a new 6.7-Liter common rail deck plate Cummins engine.  It’s turbo-charged, but no added items like propane or nitrous.  On fuel alone, the engine makes 1800 horsepower, but at the same time is one of the cleanest-running engines in the industry.  At the events since the debut of the new Xtreme Diesel, the truck has shown little smoke from the exhaust, a cleaner-burning fuel, and could be the diesel truck that could overshadow the big debut of BroDozer.  It got attention, but got overshadowed.

A full interview with Radzierez is in the works to discuss his truck compared to the BroDozer, and where he sees the diesel industry going in the sport.  But, the common theme is the addition of a modern diesel engine to the modern race chassis has taken over, and it will only get better with new technology.

 

Jimmy Creten took his truck to the cosmetic surgery for the 2018 season.
Jimmy Creten took his truck to the cosmetic surgeon for the 2018 season.

2Xtreme Racing Slims Down the Bounty Hunter

Always known to be an innovator in the industry, Jimmy Creten has made changes over the last several years to his Bounty Hunter Ford.  Constant testing, changing, and improvements have been made to make the truck still highly competitive, while also trying something new.  From increasing the height of the shock towers to even testing engine parts, just to get that little extra power, he always tries to be one step ahead.

But prior to the 2018 season, he and his wife, Dawn, took a new approach to a proven chassis they have been running since the 2011 season.  What happened was back at their Kansas shop, his truck suddenly went under the knife, and not just to put new parts on.  Fans saw pictures of his truck suddenly not having a roll cage, as the entire middle section of the truck was cut off.  What exactly was he doing?

Come January, at the first outdoor show of the season and his first event of 2018, the fans were in enormous shock when his truck rolled off a transport trailer for a display.

The truck looked similar to what he ran a season ago, but with one major shift.  The truck sat lower, not as in ride height from the shocks, but the roll cage itself was lowered to the point where it actually was the same height as the rear shock hoops.  The front shocks were angled even farther inward, creating an extremely unique setup.

However, the biggest change wasn’t just to height, but it could be seen when staring down the nose of the truck.

The Bounty Hunter suddenly went from being a full-width Ford Expedition to having a body just wide enough to surround the roll cage and chassis, with the fenders sitting well inside the chassis.

For fans that have been around the industry since the beginning, the reminder of a classic old-school truck that had a similar setup suddenly came to mind.  It was Jeff Dane back in the late 1980’s that piloted a skinny Chevrolet named Awesome Kong, a truck that had a lone lineage of Kong predecessors.  But this truck was unique in that after running with just square panels for a while, the promoter he ran for said the truck needed a full-length body, per rules.  So he followed the rule, and put a full-length body on the truck.  But, he also looked to the grey area in the rule book, and cut the body to just 44 inches in width, just barely wider than the tires on the truck.

Many were suddenly calling Creten’s newest truck “Bounty Kong” because of the skinny body, but it was more a complement because the fact was, the truck was fast, powerful, and handled incredibly well.

The innovator continues to keep fans in awe, and 2019 will be no different for the former world champion.

 

Hot WheelsHot Wheels Goes from Toys to Tours

It was the words of the late Gary Lee on an old video that many monster fans from back in the day who said, “The only difference between men and boys is the price of their toys.”  For many young boys back in the day, that meant a visit to the toy store and looking immensely at the most famous toy car maker in the land, Hot Wheels.

Ever since 2000, it was Monster Jam that had sold so many of these toys with sponsorship that even included a life-size Hot Wheels truck.

But, come the end of 2018, that era came to an end, as Spin Master became the new sponsor for that series.  However Hot Wheels then got to implement their own take on their monster truck brand, coming up with their own ideas and looks.  But they wanted more, and to do that they had to branch out into something that they had not done.

It was time to bring those toys to life…and the Hot Wheels Tour was born.

By hiring the right people, having the right backing, and making it an affordable experience for everyone in the family, Hot Wheels Monster Trucks LIVE became the newest series to bring the monster action to the arenas during the first four months of action.

The best part of the tour, the trucks that the kids are buying off the shelves at Walmart, Target and other locations, now become full-size behemoths.  From the Bone Shaker, to the V8 Bomber, and the Tiger Shark, the small toys that sell for $4 now become full-size machines worth almost $300,000.

Along with these creative names, the Hot Wheels brand will be represented in a major way, as the truck will be the teammate alongside the famed Bigfoot, who also decided to sign an agreement with Hot Wheels, something the team from Missouri has done before.  Back in the early 1990’s, Bigfoot was sponsored by Hot Wheels and they put out a toy line that these days go for top dollar on eBay when in mint condition.  It is expected that many new Bigfoot toys from Hot Wheels will include their current line of trucks, along with the arch-rival Snake Bite.

Men and boys, along with the girls and women, will enjoy their time on this new tour, set to begin the first weekend of January.

 

Although there were many moments that took center stage this year, from the Anderson brothers sweeping Las Vegas, to a tie in the 4-Wheel Jamboree racing championship.  There were four men given a Hall of Fame enshrinement, while many more honed their skills trying to balance a heavy truck either on the front tires or on the sides.  It has been an incredible 2018, but the year is drawing to a close.

New events, new drivers, new trucks and new opportunities await.  We will see you in 2019.  Happy New Year.

 

About Dustin Parks

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