The amount of boredom and emptiness that has entered into the world these days due to COVID-19 has many of us stuck at home, wondering when it will get back to some sense of normalcy. Every day, more testing means more positive cases, and more questions as to what are we doing wrong.
The sports world in it’s entirety has come to an end, and we all are longing for something to occupy the time.
This individual is no different, especially since I have experienced a lack of “methanol medicine” since the monster truck industry came to a complete standstill as well with promoters postponing or canceling shows. Both of my April events, including one on my birthday, were no different. So not being able to hear 1500 horsepower fire up, and see these machines take on all obstacles, from tires to logs, dirt and, of course, cars, has many a fan sitting at home, waiting to hear when their favorite drivers are back at the wheel.
It hit home when Feld Entertainment, the promoter behind Monster Jam, suddenly furloughed 90 percent of it’s staff, with many possibly not being able to return. The monster truck family encompasses the entire country, and the world, so seeing so many having to be sent home, and not knowing what is next, is painful.
All this has made everyone look back on what they have accomplished, from victories to experiences, thrill rides and rides to forget.
I decided with all this time off, I too would take a look back at some of the moments that stand out to me, each of which I have seen with my own eyes.
Starting off this “Horsepower Rewind” is a pair of incidents at the same venue, separate seasons, by the same team.
So, here we go with our rewind, part one, as we look back at a pair of wild moments courtesy of Hall Brothers Racing at the Bloomsburg Fairgrounds.
Entering the Bloomsburg 4-Wheel Jamboree back in 2016, the talk of the pit area was the change of track design. A year prior, all track designs at all three jamborees had a unique setup. Lima had the S-design to utilize all the infield, although it was only used for one day with the remaining weekend being a rain-drenching mud fest.
Bloomsburg then had the Chicago-style setup, then Indianapolis went with a design that included a banked cushion and offset starting lines. But the following year, it was all straight-line drags.
But, unlike Lima, the Bloomsburg track was a three-jump setup, with a roller to start, a small hill in the center, and finally the launch jump for the finish line. The first event on Friday saw the first three races have no troubles, as drivers were getting used to being careful with the second jump. But, when it came time for Doug Noelke to line up his Tail Gator alongside Mat Dishman in Rammunition, things quickly went from normal, to intense.
Both drivers kept it close after the first roller, with Dishman maybe holding a slight edge, but then each hit the second jump hard, much harder than the prior races.
And then…it happened.
Dishman’s hit on the second hill was so hard, he actually planted the truck right into the final hill, and the ensuing rebound was nothing short of a “this won’t be good” moment. The Ram Rebel hammered the hill at such force the truck twisted in mid-air, and landed hard on the left-rear corner. Dishman knew the truck landed, and the ensuing torque pushed the truck onto the right side. Track officials watched, but kept off the kill radio to give Dishman a chance to bring the truck back on all fours. The problem was, the landing snapped the left rear tire and hub off the truck, something Dishman didn’t know until when he thought he saved the truck, and rather than coming down on the left side rubber, the truck planted the left rear into the ground, and ended up on it’s side.
Video from the opposing side showed the landing off the final jump was so severe, fans could clearly hear the wheel snap off.
After the show ended, the crew was hard at work getting repairs done to the Rammunition machine, minus the front fiberglass, I had a chance to chat a bit with Dishman, and again the day after. Dishman actually said he had no idea the wheel snapped off until the truck came back down on the tires, and that was the reason he ultimately rolled. Had the assembly stayed on, he said that a chance to power out was still in play, since the R.I.I. wasn’t hit.
The amazing part of the roll, even with what seemed to be a severe wreck, the damage was minimal. Aside from the hub assembly and planetary, which was still intact since the breakage was behind the wheel restraint, the truck was still intact. Dishman finished out the weekend without any more trouble, although he had a slightly better view with the front clip no longer bolted on.
Dishman recovered from that roll, and continued racing with the Hall Brothers until the end of 2019. But, he wasn’t the only one to go for a wild ride at the fairgrounds.
Up until the 2015 season, the Bloomsburg jamboree was an event where Mark Hall seemed to at least one time, have it under lock and key. In 2002, the Hall Brothers team officially got a big-name sponsor with Dodge, who was at the time looking to fully get back into the monster industry. After several years of running a Ram body, the sponsorship became official when the Raminator and Rammunition came to life.
So, how exactly does this apply to Bloomsburg? Between 2002 and 2014, at least one of the racing programs was won by Hall in the Raminator. At the 2002 show, he actually stepped into the team truck of Rammunition to freestyle when his truck went down due to engine woes, and a few years later the team hauled in a backup truck for him to finish out the weekend. No matter the instance, Hall somehow found a way to make it work, and kept a streak going for 12 years. But, that streak ended in 2015, and it continued through 2016, and in 2017 HBR was not at the jamborees.
That streak seemed to be continuing the following year, as Hall went 0-for-2 through the first two events. Come Sunday, his streak was on the verge of continuing as he lined up against Christian Norman in Bigfoot. But, Hall was not going to yield that easily, especially against a rival team.
Hall launched hard, with Norman getting the slight jump, but Hall was pulling hard and was doing so with a slight fishtail. He hammered the final jump, slightly sideways, but did so in victory.
But, it came at a heavy cost.
When Hall’s truck landed, it bucked like a bull at the rodeo onto the right side. Hall kept in the throttle as long as he could, but the front tire suddenly hooked a rut and the Raminator went for a ride. The cartwheel that ensuded shed body parts, flattened a tire, at least partially, and finally came to rest on the right side. Norman, who ultimately slowed up because of breakage of his own, quickly got out of his Bigfoot and ran to his fellow competitor, who at one time was also his boss.
The second set of hands was a big help, since Hall took a few moments to get himself together before climbing out of the truck.
As the safety crew rolled his truck back on the tires, the damage was actually slight. Body panels were broken off, mounts were broken, and a flat tire were the lone damage. The actual chassis structure was intact, and that meant he still had a chance to race on, as the entire HBR crew dove in to fix the machine.
Not only was it fixed, but Hall managed to make it to the finals against his teammate, Kurt Kraehmer, and took the victory, ending a losing skid at a place he always enjoyed being at, while doing so in a truck that looked like it had been used in Smokey and the Bandit 3, when Beaufort T. Justice’s car was just a frame, an engine, tires, and his son holding up the lights.
But, a win is a win, and he was grateful to leave the jamboree with a truck intact, even if the fiberglass was not.
Although this is not the “methanol medicine” or “monster therapy” that many fans are wanting right now, it is at least something. Another edition of Horsepower Rewind is coming soon, so that everyone can have some kind of excitement for when the industry picks back up.