All good things must come to an end; a saying that holds true in many different ways. Just like any season, whether it’s baseball, hockey, or any kind of racing, the final event of the season is both emotional, and in a way exciting. The final show means no holding back, and letting it all hang out no matter what the result would be.
The 4-Wheel Jamboree season went through the cool spring in Lima, then had to deal with the summer heat in Bloomsburg, and all weekend long has experienced some unseasonably warm weather at the Indiana State Fairgrounds in Indianapolis. The pavement for the General Tire Monster Truck Thunder Drags has been sticky, yet provided excellent grip.
Saturday’s action saw some intense action, and also provided some heartbreak.
At the end of the afternoon show, the Bigfoot team realized their weekend was done. Mike Miller had a strong run in the Lucas Oil-sponsored Ford Raptor come to a halt after pulling to a stop by the competition stage. Turns out, the powerful Ford engine had snapped the crankshaft, meaning the truck was down for the count, and needed to head to the shop in Missouri for an extreme surgery.
Still, when Sunday rolled around, a full six-truck field was ready to take to the infield one last time. Six…with Bigfoot out, isn’t that supposed to be five?
With Foot out for the final day, and unbeknownst to the fans that had attended all weekend, a series of phone calls were made to get in a replacement truck for competition. The Family Events and WHR Motorsports crews did not have to look far for someone to come in for the final show, and come Sunday morning, a wild-looking monster car was being tired-up for the afternoon show.
A monster car? The replacement to come in for Sunday’s action was RJ Turner, the young shoe that took over the infamous pro-mod style Willy’s that is called the War Wizard.
As the Sunday show neared, the anticipation was even higher as Turner was getting an early challenge when he matched up against Bad News Travels Fast and Brandon Derrow. To the surprise of some, the pro-mod monster launched hard off the line and got the victory, heading into the semi-finals against Mike Vaters and Black Stallion, who advanced by knocking off Kurt Kraehmer in the General Tire machine. The final matchup of the first round stunned many in attendance, as a streak seemed to be in jeopardy.
Mat Dishman lined up the Raminator RAM Heavy Duty against Mike Vaters II in the 2019 Overkill Evolution. The reigning freestyle champion poured on the Ford power and got the first round victory, just the fourth loss for Dishman all season.
His streak of final-round appearances suddenly was in turmoil, but a reprieve came in the fact he was deemed the fastest loser of the opening round, so his opportunity was still in play.
As the semi-finals approached, Turner stunned the crowd when he caught Vaters sleeping a bit at the line, and suddenly the fill-in driver for the final day was playing the role of spoiler was now in the finals and itching to steal the final season win from the entire field. Meanwhile a round one rematch was putting a lot on the line for both Vaters II and Dishman.
As they left the line, both stayed even, but as they left the first ramp, Vaters II laid on the loud pedal and unleashed the Roush-Yates power, soaring to the final jump, capturing the victory, and ending the streak of Dishman at eight-consecutive final rounds.
Still, the unofficial 2019 Thunder Drags racing champion had the best season of his career, and having already announced his intention to step aside from full-time driving, it’s quite an accomplishment for the No. 2 driver in the Hall Brothers Racing stable.
In the finals, although both are very good friends in the pit area, as seen on many V2Vids uploads from Vaters II, War Wizard against Overkill Evolution was shaping up to be a very intriguing and extremely interesting face off. Both lined up, and when the green light came on, they each hammered the throttle, but Vaters II gripped the dirt and poured on the power when the tires hit the asphalt. One giant leap across the line, even with Turner coming on, and the former freestyle world champion earned his second win of the weekend, and third of the year. It will certainly be excellent coverage on his YouTube channel once it gets uploaded, because with the win it gave him every reason to just go for broke in freestyle.
- Round 1: Black Stallion def. General Tire; War Wizard def. Bad News Travels Fast; Overkill Evolution def. Raminator
- Semi-Finals: War Wizard def. Black Stallion; Overkill Evolution def. Raminator
- Title Round: Overkill Evolution def. War Wizard
As the tough truck teams cleared the infield after deciding their event champion and overall season champion, it was finally time to turn the big guys loose on the infield one last time and let the crowd see exactly what they can do when given a chance to show off.
Vaters had a strong afternoon, even getting better at the nose wheelies, and Kraehmer once more showed his ability as he spun a pair of donuts on his General Tire cleats, plus pulled a strong wheelie heading towards the big pit area. Derrow then rolled out and showed the 20-year old chassis he was piloting was still capable of doing a proud performance. With family and friends looking on, He again put the wheelie bar on the pavement, almost to the point of wondering if the bar itself was going to break off based on the scraping it was doing.
Dishman then came out for what ultimately would be his swan song performance, the second big-name driver to decide to call it a career this season, with the first being Bigfoot’s Larry Swim who made the decision a few months earlier. His run was exactly like all the ones he’s previously done, methodical, intense, a couple wheelies, and a dusty set of donuts.
As sad as it is to see him walk away, he did so as a dominant driver, and a constant professional.
The final two runs of the season meant some youth and an extreme amount of talent at the wheel. Turner came out first and showed the pro-mod body was just that, a body. Underneath the high-horsepower and modern chassis was taking every hit in stride. The War Wizard, which hasn’t been run at a jamboree since the 2014 season, was going full-tilt from the first hit to the last, and showed that the newest driver in the War Wizard lineage certainly was up to task.
That left one man to close out the season, one man who has truly walked his way to victory all weekend long.
So, with the Alien Nation watching, out rolled Vaters II slowly to the jammer stack near the stage. He then walked across, let the back end kick up, and just as he has done all weekend, nose walked down the length of the frontstretch before letting the rear end settle back down, and at that point he went off into what he’s known to do.
There was no worry of whether his tires had enough air to make it through the event, nor if a shock was gonna break a bolt, steering issues or broken parts. At that moment, it was all about putting on a show for the fans. The only issue he experienced all weekend was the battery failure on the opening day. Now, he goes home with another freestyle win, and an overall championship to add to his list of accomplishments.
With that performance, the banners came down, teams loaded up to head out, and the fans made their way to the exit. The 2019 season has come to a close. Heading into the off-season, the biggest question will be…what will happen in 2020? Will the monsters go bigger, or will something else come about? What trucks, drivers, and track designs will be coming?
There will be a long wait, as the new season is over eight months away. For now, the jamboree season has concluded, and all that remains are the memories.
FINAL STANDINGS* (9 of 9 Events)-Wins in Brackets
*Points are unofficial
- Raminator – 1240 
- Overkill Evolution – 1040 
- Lucas Oil Bigfoot – 800 
- General Tire – 480
- Bad News Travels Fast – 400
- Black Stallion – 440
- War Wizard – 120
- Xtreme Diesel – 40
Overkill Evolution – 2
Bad News Travels Fast – 1
General Tire – 1
Overkill Evolution – 7
Lucas Oil Bigfoot – 4