Crisp air in late September means a couple things. First, the leaves are changing from vibrant green into shades of red, orange, and brown. Second, the gridiron sees players from the young and innocent to the high-paid and years of experience scoring touchdowns and gaining yardage.
Finally, the 4-Wheel Jamboree gets to hold the biggest gathering of four-wheel drive trucks and jeeps in all the country, doing so just outside their home base.
The Indiana State Fairgrounds brings in 4×4 lovers from all across the east and midwest, dating back to the mid 1980’s, and this year is no exception as another strong crowd came to the fairgrounds to cruise, view, and compete. As is common with the jamborees, it was the big vehicles on 66-inch tires that gained the most admiration, as it was the final stop for the General Tire Monster Truck Thunder Drags on the year.
Making it a challenge for the final show is the fact the entire competition area for the big beasts is not on dirt, although every jump that was built for the occasion was made of the sticky clay. That clay was formed, packed, and placed on the pavement on the infield, which made for an advantage as the lines for the parking lot in this case helped double as the start and finish lines.
The six-truck field was the same as what was seen at Lima back in June, as back in the field was Brandon Derrow in his Bad News Travels Fast Chevrolet, plus the Vaters camp headlined by the father-son duo of Mike Sr. in Black Stallion and Mike Jr. in Overkill Evolution.
Although declaring retirement from full-time driving, Mat Dishman rolled in to fulfill his promise at the wheel of the Raminator, as he was riding a streak of four wins in six rounds, with the two losses coming in the final round. Teammate Kurt Kraehmer was also ready to make some noise in his General Tire machine.
The Bigfoot camp had the Lucas Oil Bigfoot in attendance as well, but something was different for this event. It wasn’t just the body, but also the chassis and driver.
This year the Lucas Oil “Wildfoot” as it was deemed was led by Christian Norman, but this particular weekend the Foot team had booked Norman on another tour. So, the wild body was to go on a different truck. Unfortunately, last weekend, that body was damaged in another event meaning the wild look was facing an early end for the season. So, instead of painting a new body, one that was already in use was given the Lucas Oil decal, and away the team went. For the final event, former Hall Brothers Racing driver, Mike Miller, made his return to the jamboree for the first time since 2014, as he would be at the wheel of the #15 chassis for the team, a truck that has a rich history on the jamboree tour, so it already was giving the newest shoe in the Foot organization some extra confidence.
Entering Friday’s show, all eyes were on the unofficial points leader, Dishman. He actually was at a point where he could hypothetically clinch the unofficial racing championship on the opening day.
His first round contest against Derrow saw him plant the HEMI power in no-man’s land and soar to victory, while Miller worked past Kraehmer in a close race that saw Miller take the win by about a half-truck length. The final matchup of the first round between the Vaters trucks ultimately didn’t happen. In a surprising twist, neither truck was firing while in the pits, so as the team continued working on the trucks, the tough trucks came out to do their opening qualifying rounds.
Turns out, the team managed to get one of the trucks running. Overkill Evolution made the call for the second round due to being higher in points. It became apparent during the thrash in the pits to what happened, as the team quickly took one battery out of the truck and replaced with a new one.
With enough power to officially get the truck running, the former freestyle champion lined up against Dishman for the semi-final, but the 2000-horsepower Ram was not being denied as Dishman powered to the finals.
On the opposite side, Derrow came back as the fast loser, but fell to Miller, setting up a unique final round between two former teammates in two completely different trucks. This was in all facets a grudge match, a rivalry, and a final that had the fans choosing sides.
Miller took the far lane, while Dishman kept the near lane as he did all evening. At the hit of the throttle, both made it over the opening roller, but the Ram was planting the power quick and fast. Dishman went from being 4-for-6 to 5-for-7 as he took the victory in the opening racing bracket, and increased his point lead to an astounding 320 points over his two closest competitors. In theory, with two events remaining, he could sit out the final two shows and end up with a three-way tie for the unofficial title.
But, that is not Dishman’s style. To clinch the win for the 2019 season, Dishman simply needs to make a legal pass in the opening round and that title comes home to Illinois, meaning he’s walking away on top.
- Round 1: Lucas Oil Bigfoot def. General Tire, Raminator def. Bad News Travels Fast (Black Stallion & Overkill Evolution DNS)
- Semi-Finals: Lucas Oil Bigfoot def. Bad News Travels Fast (FL), Raminator def. Overkill Evolution
- Title Round: Raminator def. Lucas Oil Bigfoot
As the sun set in the background, the Friday festivities would close out with freestyle, and it began with the news that Vaters was coming out to perform in the Black Stallion, having fixed the trouble he was experiencing prior to racing. A solid, although average, performance was followed by a strong run by Kraehmer.
It wasn’t until Derrow came out and showed why his truck really enjoyed the steep bumps that the WHR Motorsports crew built. On a couple occasions, the flame-wrapped Bad News Chevy stood straight up on the wheelie bar, even dragging the bar across the pavement to the delight of the crowd.
Miller even got in on the act as he dragged the wheelie bar on his Ford Raptor across the pavement on a few occasions, showing even a 24-year old truck could still get the job done.
It wasn’t until Vaters Jr. came out in his 2019 Super Duty to show that even though the obstacles aren’t the biggest he’s seen, he can still put on a show. That performance began when he came up the backside of the jammer combination jump, and got the truck to stand on the nose long enough to show off his newest maneuver. As he was balancing on the nose wheelie, he manipulated the steering to almost crab walk sideways while only on the front tires.
Once the rear tires landed, it was off to the races. A couple side slaps on the hills, and a few sky shots on the jammer dirt stack, and it was clear the Alien Nation was happy with yet another freestyle victory on the season.
Saturday’s docket for the monsters includes a pair of shows, with the early event at 1 p.m. being both racing and freestyle, and the 6 p.m. performance being an all-freestyle celebration. It also is a major moment between the shows, as during the break it will be the highly anticipated reveal of the newest list of inductees for the International Monster Truck Hall of Fame.
Quite the monster plans at the Indiana State Fairgrounds, meaning there should be no reason to miss any of the action.
POINT STANDINGS* (7 of 9 Events)-Wins in Brackets
*Points are unofficial
- Raminator – 1040 
- Overkill Evolution – 720 
- Lucas Oil Bigfoot – 720 
- General Tire – 400
- Bad News Travels Fast – 320
- Black Stallion – 280
- Xtreme Diesel – 40
Overkill Evolution – 2
Bad News Travels Fast – 1
General Tire – 1
Overkill Evolution – 6
Lucas Oil Bigfoot – 4