All good things must come to an end.
That classic slogan was ringing true on Sunday afternoon, as just as the previous event in Lima, it was the final day of the Bloomsburg 4-Wheel Jamboree, and it meant that when the final event took place, it was time to tear down every bit of the Bloomsburg Fairgrounds, from food vendors to auto accessory sellers. The large crowd began filing in for one last day of events, culminating with the final racing event and freestyle for the General Tire Monster Truck Thunder Drags.
The crowd was also focused on the Xtreme Diesel Ram that a night prior made one enormous hit in freestyle, then called it a night because of a broken driveline.
A shattered carrier bearing in the driveshaft put Dave Radzierez on the sidelines, however at the end of the night he was confident everything would be fixed in the morning since he had a spare in the hauler.
In the morning, that mood changed.
The bearing he had in the hauler was not the correct size, so he, crew chief Michelle Simpson and his entire team, including folks from Gearhart’s Garage that drove in to see him compete, were scrambling around the Bloomsburg area to find the correct size bearing to get him back running. He waited, and waited…and waited even more. By the time it was time to fire engines to move the remaining trucks to the infield, the waiting had concluded, because his luck ran out.
The Bloomsburg curse continued, and he felt so frustrated, since the Bloomsburg event is as close to home as it can get for Radzierez. He still signed autographs, and posed for pictures, but the devastation in his face was clear.
With Radzierez down, the 3 p.m. event was reduced to five trucks, meaning one truck in the draw was going to luck out in the racing bracket with a bye run. In this instance, that went to Kurt Kraehmer, who saw his General Tire truck get repaired the previous day due to a broken axle. He felt more comfortable in the truck, and gave the crowd a Kyle Busch-style bow in introductions, but faced his toughest challenge in the semi-finals.
Teammate Mat Dishman was defeated in the first round by Christian Norman in the Lucas Oil “Wildfoot,” his first loss in the opening round all season. But, he would return in the semi-finals as the fast loser, setting up a Hall Brothers Racing matchup to put one of the RAM Trucks in the title round.
When the lights went green, Kraehmer caught the holeshot over the first hill, and stayed in the throttle with Dishman in the Raminator just slightly behind. Kraehmer held on, but the rear end slid out just a bit. He kept after it, and hammered hard on the gas, but could not quite pull ahead enough to catch Dishman, losing by just about a half-truck.
On the opposite side of the bracket, Norman found himself in another battle with the guy he lost to in the semi-finals the day prior, Mikey Vaters Jr. in Overkill Evolution. But this time, there was no questioning the call from either side of the track, as the Ford Super Duty of Vaters got the Bigfoot Raptor by just about a tire.
The stage was set for the same final as the day prior, with each taking the same lane as they had a day ago. But, this time it was a different result, as for the fourth time Dishman was the man singing the victory song. The Raminator has actually been to every final round all season, and with four wins in the bunch, that means a 66 percent win rate. At this rate, the RAM Trucks operation is in the best groove it’s been in with the jamborees in a long time.
At this point, the track got cleared, safety crews moved into position, and it was time to close out the entire jamboree weekend with the final freestyle performance for all five trucks.
- Round 1: Overkill Evolution def. Black Stallion; Lucas Oil Bigfoot def. Raminator; General Tire BYE RUN.
- Semi-Finals: Overkill Evolution def. Lucas Oil Bigfoot; Raminator (FL) def. General Tire.
- Finals: Raminator def. Overkill Evolution.
Kraehmer put on a solid run, including kicking up a lot of dust and grass with a set of cyclones just outside the racing lanes. Dishman then followed it up with a hard run of his own, but seemed to be hindered in his run. It turns out the truck was running with a slightly hurt axle, which Dishman reported after his racing win. Yet, he still went out, hammered hard, and gave the crowd what they wanted.
Norman strapped into his Ford Raptor, and decided to make it an assault on the eyes and the skies, as he put the Lucas Oil-sponsored machine through the ringer. Although unable to pull the classic Foot wheelstand like he did in Lima, he was able to slide the truck into a pair of donuts, drift through the corners, and hit every hill available on the track to the delight of the crowd.
Mike Vaters then rolled out onto the track and hit the two rollers on the front stretch that were part of the tough truck course. Then he slowed way down, and rolled to a stop facing the new hill the track crew from WHR Motorsports set up, but all seemed as if it was planned out.
The announcer then got on the microphone to reveal a perfectly planned stunt that only the Bloomsburg crowd would be able to witness.
It was 20 years ago, to the date…almost to the hour, that Vaters accomplished his own feat on the infield at Bloomsburg. In 1999, he took his then-Black Stallion 2000, the chassis that team driver Matt Cody had driven the last few years and just recently got put into semi-retirement, and launched over Andy Hoffman’s parked Nightmare monster.
Realizing the jamboree was falling on the exact day that the stunt happened, along with some help from lead photographer for the jamboree, Jeff Luckey, a plan went into action. A few phone calls to Bonnier Corporation, and a few track changes, and it was decided to replicate the stunt.
But, instead of Vaters doing it himself, his son, who at the time of that original launch was just age 11, was set to do the jump. However, the task was even tougher when the team discovered after the finals, the front end of the truck was not pulling. That meant in order to do the stunt, Vaters would need to somehow push Overkill Evolution and get enough speed using just the rear tires to get it there.
Still, the crowd was ready, he was ready, and with his dad looking on, Mikey pulled the belts tight, focused forward, and hammered the accelerator.
The Ford Super Duty blasted the hill and soared high, at least an entire truck height over his dad’s machine, coming down hard on the nose and into a wheelstand. Mikey got the truck under control, and roared back in front of the crowd, hitting the big hill in the process and sliding to a stop, saluting the fans and getting a lot of congrats from the video crew, track personnel, and everyone in the infield that witnessed the successful leap up close.
Winning the actual freestyle portion of the show, at least unofficially, seemed to be Norman with his full run of high-flying antics. But, to the crowd, especially those that saw the original jump happen 20 years prior, that moment made the weekend.
As the teams began to tire down, it was clear that the only way to top what happened this weekend would be to put on a spectacular show at the season finale. The biggest jamboree happens at the biggest infield, in Bonnier Corporation’s back yard.
From September 20-22, the O’Reilly Auto Parts 4-Wheel Jamboree Fall Nationals will again descend on the Indiana State Fairgrounds in Indianapolis, Indiana, with four big shows, and also the reveal of the newest four inductees into the International Monster Truck Hall of Fame.
Get those tickets for what has always been a very eventful, and very astounding, weekend in Indianapolis.
POINT STANDINGS* (6 of 9 Events)-Wins in Brackets
*Points are unofficial
- Raminator – 880 
- Overkill Evolution – 640 
- Lucas Oil Bigfoot – 600 
- General Tire – 360
- Black Stallion – 280
- Bad News Travels Fast – 240
- Xtreme Diesel – 40
Overkill Evolution – 2
Bad News Travels Fast – 1
General Tire – 1
Overkill Evolution – 5
Lucas Oil Bigfoot – 4
SPECIAL THANKS TO:
Emily Boden, Leah Burdette-Bonnier Corporation
Lee Collins-WHR Motorsports
Mat Dishman, June Hall, Tim Hall, Kurt Kraehmer-Hall Brothers Racing
Christian Norman, Drue Epler, Evan Trent-Bigfoot 4×4
Mike Vaters, Mike Vaters Jr, V2 Vids-Vaters Motorsports
Michelle Simpson, Dave Radzierez-XDP
Nick Davis, Tim Howard-Back Channel Productions