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Horsepower Rewind: The Battle and Battlescars of a Championship

The 2011 jamboree finale was a wild one for Team Bigfoot.

When I decided to do a series looking back on some wild moments I had gotten to experience in all my years of being a media member, I wanted to figure out what ones meant the most, and the ones that originally got me in the door for something I love to do.

So, I decided the first one would be part of a recent round of memories.  However, the second one had to actually be the one that truly got it started for me.

Back in 2011, I decided to begin doing coverage of the 4-Wheel Jamboree on my old platform, and it seemed to be able to get a bit of recognition.  At that point, a lot of drivers were recognizing me because of artwork, but not so much because of writing.  I was trying everything to get my way in the business, but after Bloomsburg that year it was still a bit of a struggle.  But a few weeks later, I get a message via Facebook from someone named Ross Bonar.  To many that read this, maybe that name means nothing, but to me it was one I recognized.  He was the man behind TheMonsterBlog.com, a website that had taken off with monster truck coverage, and had began watching what I was doing.

He then went on and made an offer that I decided to take; he asked me to come with me as part of the Blog crew at the Indianapolis jamboree in September.  After booking a hotel, and a rental car, it was set.  At the same time, the jamboree infield would have a different look.  Weeks prior, a major wind storm blew through during a Sugarland concert, and the stage scaffolding collapsed, hurting many and stunning fans.

By September, the investigation was still going on, meaning the remains of the stage were still in the infield on the pavement.  The track crew had to bring in makeshift bleachers, and shorten the infield competition area, since many fans were wanting to be there.

All this made for a tight fit in the weekend festivities, but as the weekend went along, things went smoothly.

The hunt for the points championship was tight entering the Saturday evening races, with Dan Runte in the E3 Bigfoot slightly behind Mark Hall in the Raminator.  But, the Saturday night show took a turn when Hall was eliminated in the second round, opening a door for Runte to make up some points.  He would do so after making it to the finals.

The S-track made for tight competition, and the final round of this race meant riding against Mat Dishman in Rammunition, who stood out very strong in the evening twilight thanks to his bright orange decals against the black and camo scheme he was running at the time.

Who knew this race would be one that we all would remember.

I was asked to film for the Blog this weekend, alongside Bonar, Chris Parrish, and Colby Marshall.  With Bonar at the pit area, Parrish had the starting line, while Marshall had the finish.  Me, I was set up in the final corner.  It was a bit dusty after the water that was put down began evaporating, but the two trucks left the line hard over the first jump, with Dishman gaining the advantage in the corner.  Runte then made up ground over the rhythm section and then whipped the Ford Super Duty into the final corner.

That final straightaway, with both trucks planting it hard on the throttle, would be the wildest finish I had seen between the two teams.  At least, up until a few years ago, as stated in the previous rewind.

The evening dew on the grass suddenly became the backdrop as both trucks hit the final ramp wheel-to-wheel, with Runte slightly crossed up at the hit of the ramp.  When the trucks landed, as Runte was crossed up, each were trying to gain grip.  In the blink of an eye, Runte’s truck suddenly got hammered by the left-rear of Dishman, who was just as much trying to gain control as he was to win.

With the impact, Runte hooked sideways, tumbling the Bigfoot machine and landing back on the wheels, with one tire flat.  Dishman, meanwhile, found himself sliding down and trying to save his truck, but ultimately rolling over on the driver’s side.  Both trucks went up in a heap of dust.  In the midst of all this, I saw Bonar run the same way one would see Saquon Barkley do when he finds a hole in the defense.  I, too, ran hard up the track to see the end result of the race.

Runte’s truck, still on it’s wheels, with body panels loose, broken, and even a tire mark on the side.  Dishman’s truck, scratches from the cab, and a driver a bit shaken.

As I looked on with the track crew coming up, I felt a tug on my shoulder, as it was Parrish.  He ran up crazy, knowing what everyone had seen was a moment to remember.  He kept on saying, “Did ya get it?  Did ya get it?”  I told him I think so, but was hard to tell in the playback because of the van stack and the dust, but we all quickly focused on the action in the infield.

The safety crews checked on both drivers, and each were alright.  The trucks, surprisingly, were not bad.  Rammunition had broken body panels on the cab, and a bit on the nose.  Runte’s truck, more mechanical than his opposition.  A front sway bar broken, a flat tire, and a cracked cage.  It would be a long night for both squads, as each needed to be ready for the next day.

“We came over the jumps together, slightly ahead of him.  I took a bad dive in, and broke a sway bar; I heard the sway bar break.  I could hear him (Dishman), but couldn’t see him.  I had a bad feeling, and we got together,” Runte said afterward.

The scars of the wreck remained the next day, a reminder of the cost of victory on some occasions.
The scars of the wreck remained the next day, a reminder of the cost of victory on some occasions.

The next day, it was still an all-hands on deck repair session.  Allen Pezo, who was there with the classic Predator monster truck to promote the then-new Monster Truck Hall of Fame, was welding on Runte’s truck to repair the cage.  Runte, meanwhile had the cab on saw horses to do repairs.  As flimsy as it was, since it was fiberglass, a few sets of hands were needed to hold the cab while Runte worked the drill.  I even got a chance to help out, as after Runte drilled the holes, it was my job to insert the zip ties and tighten as much as I could but also maintain the look of the truck.  The rubber mark was left on the truck, as a reminder of what happened.

One fan even decided to have some fun, and handed Runte a bandage to put on the body, as if Bigfoot got an “owie” but was still good.

By that point, the championship was close to being decided.  Runte was in a position where he forced Hall to go full-tilt and hope to make it close enough where a tie-breaker would be used.  Runte, meanwhile, only needed to win his first round in order to clinch the championship.  He did just that, and later in the rounds actually beat Hall in another close race.

In the end, Runte would win the bracket, defeating Derick Anson in the finals, and clinching the 2011 championship for Team Bigfoot.

But, for me, that was my first major wreck I had seen at any jamboree, dating all the way back to when I saw Scott Stephens roll King Krunch back in 1991.  But this one was memorable because it was an opportunity to be recognized for something else aside from artwork and being a dedicated fan.

That event, that moment, was the opening I needed to become part of the industry.  And I have never looked back since.

About Dustin Parks

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