The one constant about and old-school four wheel drive show is that you expect to see the classics. Classic trucks with modern upgrades, yet still keep the right attitude from back when they were originally built. But, you also see modern takes on those ideas, with custom touches and new ideas to make the classic even better. That’s why some classic trucks now have modern power under the hood.
It’s no different with the monster truck industry, and the 4-Wheel Jamboree since it’s inception in the mid-1980’s has always had a heartbeat for the monster trucks. But, during it’s later years, that heartbeat was still there, and maybe was struggling a bit to keep up.
So, a heart transplant of sorts, came in, trying to get a new beat going. Although showing promise, things outside the control of the folks at Bonnier Corporation made that difficult.
The return of the monsters last season showed that the heartbeat of these shows was still there, but it needed to have something more, something that screams monsters, with names that appeal to the new fans and the original fans. It needed…outlaws.
The Outlaw Monster Truck Drags, after having successful events at another infamous jamboree venue, the Canfield Fairgrounds, the last two years, has expanded to having a full series of action. Both jamboree events for 2023 will count towards the season championship at Canfield, with points for racing, skills and freestyle all being accounted for. One of the biggest differences compared to years past, the field of trucks is bigger. Another bonus, many of the names are ones that fans recognize from days gone by in the jamborees. Back in the era before freestyle and skills competition became the attraction, racing was a priority, and a focus.
What the Outlaw Monster Truck Drags are bringing is that kind of vibe, but with a modern, more challenging, and much bigger approach.
The lineup for the Outlaws is locked and loaded, so let’s take an in-depth look at the field for the 4-Wheel Jamborees that’s going to battle for a few wins this year:
Driver: Joey Sylvester
Body: 2023 Jeep Gladiator
The man that had the vision, the idea, and the drive to even create the Outlaw Monster Truck Drags is making his return to the jamboree after a two-year hiatus. When Joey Sylvester first debuted at the jamboree, many years prior, he was young, just getting into the sport, and was learning. In 2020, when he came back, the man at the wheel was a much different individual. At the same time, the jamborees that season definitely were not what they normally were. New people overseeing the event, plus having to battle with the Covid-19 pandemic, certainly made it a challenge.
Add in the fact that he started the idea of the Outlaw Drags that same year, and had to do his first show exclusively as a pay-per-view, with limited attendees made it an uphill battle. But since then, Sylvester has shown his innovation to be both old-school, and creative. His two tracks he’s developed at Canfield the last two seasons challenged even the best of drivers, including himself. But, the support he’s gotten from his sponsors, his family, and his wife for his vision has driven him to be a top-tier competitor.
What he is bringing to the jamborees this season is something that has not been seen much in the monster world. The two-time Guinness World Record holder doesn’t run a Cadillac, nor does he utilize a Ford dent-side. His chassis now has sponsorship from his local Chrysler dealer in Youngstown, Ohio, and he will be piloting the first-ever Jeep Gladiator in competition.
It is worth noting, since 2021 when the Outlaw Drags began performing in front of audiences, Sylvester is undefeated when it comes to racing. A racer at heart, from dirt tracks to off-road, he’s going to try and keep his streak alive. This monster outlaw is ready to deal, and the field needs to be ready for it.
Driver: Rodney Tweedy
Body: 1972 Chevrolet C10
The one thing that is certain about the jamboree crowd, especially those that have been around for several years, is that classics never go out of style. Old-school is always cool, and that is no different in monster trucks. Over the last several years, classic names have gotten a revival, and have found new fans to go along with the older generation.
What better name to headline that vibe than one that was one of the originals, a name that has not been seen at a jamboree since 1993. Now, 30 years later, it is making a welcome return.
Driver Rodney Tweedy, often known as “Hot Rod,” certainly has driven his fair share of important names in the industry. Leading into 2020, he was behind the wheel of Bigfoot, ready to embark on a 45th-anniversary tour. But, the pandemic stopped that dead in it’s tracks, and unfortunately for Rodney, he was one of the drivers that was out of a ride for a little while.
But, he was not out long, as James Trantina of Triple B Motorsports had acquired several major names in the industry, including one that has been renowned since the inception of the sport. His purchase of Everett Jasmer’s USA-1 operation, which included the name, along with both the original 1970 truck plus the 1988 national champion truck, meant a true revival of a name that is synonymous with monsters.
Tweedy got the nod to take pilot of the newest truck to carry the name, and now equipped with the same style body that the original truck utilized back in the day, he’s certainly showing the name proud.
After not being able to perform at the last Outlaw event in Canfield due to the flywheel not engaging the starter, his truck has been upgraded and has been performing flawlessly at many events already this season. Now, he’s trying to make up for what he was not able to do last September. USA-1 rides again, and ready to fly Old Glory proudly.
Driver: Austin Tweedy
Body: 1993 Chevrolet K1500
At first glance, this combination may seem a bit odd, and just maybe one would be right. The last time Austin Tweedy, son of USA-1 driver Rodney, competed at the Outlaw Drags he made it to the finals, losing to Sylvester. But, when he ran that race, he was not piloting the truck he will be for the jamborees.
At that event, his truck carried another familiar name, one that won the first Penda Points Series at the jamborees, Carolina Crusher.
While that name certainly brings back memories of jamborees gone by, one of the Tweedy sons will be at the wheel of another popular Chevrolet that made it’s name in the early years of the Penda series. With the same style body, this machine will have a wing hanging on the back, lights and a siren.
On duty for Tweedy at the jamborees this year is the Monster Patrol, made famous by Paul Shafer back in the 90’s.
The new name certainly won’t make much difference to Tweedy, since he will run it on the same chassis he currently pilots. But, just like when he took the helm of Carolina Crusher, he’s got a legacy to uphold. Drivers like Shafer, Tom Meents, Brian Barthel, and Kirk Dabney have all taken turns at being the driver of the winged warrior. Now, he must take charge and show that while on patrol, no one is above the law.
Driver: Preston Perez
Body: 2014 Ford F350 Super Duty
The lone Ford that will be competing at the jamborees this year is a driver that has certainly made the rounds for several teams. From Vaters Motorsports to Team Scream, and many others in between, Preston Perez certainly has been around the block.
But it seems he has found a true home as part of Cory Snyder’s operation out of Maryland. Snyder himself is a second-generation driver, and got into the sport because of his dad, Jay, who piloted Screamin’ Demon many years earlier. After getting out of the sport, the duo purchased the Toxic truck and it was Cory getting the nod to take flight.
In late 2020, the team decided to upgrade from the PEI chassis they were running to a new Metal Shop machine. Snyder took over that truck, dubbed Too Toxic, but still wanted to have the other truck ready to run, as either a backup or a teammate. That truck has shown to still be just as strong as it was when first built, and Perez has taken over the duties on the driving side, performing countless times and getting very comfortable at the wheel.
After being around so many teams, and driving so many different trucks, he seems to have found a home, and now is trying show that the “Black and Green Slimy Machine” will do the Ford fans proud. Since he’s the only one in the field, he is the Outlaw of the blue oval group in 2023.
Driver: Logan Tweedy
Body: 2012 Ram 1500
In the history of the Penda Points Series, one rivalry that began to really show force in the later years was the battle between the Fords of the Bigfoot camp and the Dodge power of Shafer Motorsports. Unlike Paul Shafer mentioned prior, this was Fred Shafer, and his mean-looking, red with envy Dodge Ram, Bear Foot.
In fact, in the final Penda Points event in 1996, he and would make it to the final round alongside then-teammate Todd Frolik, in a truck we will get to later.
In that event he would not only win, but cut the fastest time in the recorded history of the Penda series, a blistering 4.59-second run, that Fred himself said many years later he was proud of. He retired at the end of 1997 due to some trouble with his long-time sponsor, selling the team, ironically, to Paul Shafer.
Years later, Trantina purchased Shafer’s operation, and put the Bear Foot name back out in competition in a big way.
Another Tweedy in the family, Logan, is piloting this truck to it’s first jamboree appearance since that 1996 event. But, gone is the familiar Dodge red colors. What this truck now sports is a Ram 1500 body, but now has donned an all-black look, down to the rims. The truck looks more sinister, much like Fred’s pet black bears were back in the day, the namesake of the Bear Foot truck.
That said, his bears, Sugar and Spice, aren’t powering this machine, but this truck has been worked on and is performing better than it was when the chassis first came to Trantina last year. Now, this bear is ready to put it’s paws in a few Outlaws.
Driver: Dalton Van Syock
Body: 1993 Chevrolet K1500
One of the biggest things to come into the sport in the last year wasn’t just the names of trucks being reintroduced, but the bodies. In April, at the very successful TNT Motorsports-Unfinished Business event, it was the first time anyone got to see a fiberglass replica of what is considered the “OBS” Chevrolet body style. That body was not seen on a truck since the early 2000s, but considering the truck it was going to be used for, it was immediately one many were seeking.
That’s when the Stomper team from Indiana decided to make a change. With sponsorship changes, it was time for a new look for the Chevrolet, but in doing so, it meant taking a new twist on an old classic. The Stomper name itself has been in the industry since 1987, made famous by drivers Mike Whitt and the late-“Starvin” Marvin Smith. So, the team made a call to friend and monster designer, Bradley Shaw, and came up with a design that blends old and new, in more ways than one.
When the body was revealed for the first time in late-summer 2022, it was perfect. Back was the OBS-style body, with the classic yellow and red hues, along with some blue and orange. But, Shaw took that idea, and made it look rough and aged, with rust, and even grass on the side as if the body was sitting in a field with weeds growing around it.
Driver Dalton Van Syock has enjoyed piloting this truck, especially when he freestyles since this machine seems to wheelie off an ant hill due to it’s setup.
He’s certainly planning to do some of that once he makes his return to the jamborees this season, along with trying to get his first racing win of his Outlaw career.
Driver: Colton Kiser
Body: 1982 Chevrolet C10
One of the most humbling moments in the sport, for many, was seeing this young man finally have his chance with his own full-size truck. For many years, Colton Kiser spent his time at the wheel of a mini monster, one that dad Richie made sure was filled with top equipment, built strong, and could withstand punishment.
In late 2021, that chassis was sold, but that year Colton got many chances to take the wheel of some full-size rides, to see how he did. At the wheel of trucks like Pretty Wicked, Quad Chaos, and Nitemare, he seemed to shine. Late in the year, the team struck a deal with Andy Hoffman, who owned the Nitemare chassis, and sold it to him so he can truly pilot his own machine.
What he did was prove that he belonged in the big leagues, and the American Scout certainly was tough.
This square body Chevy showed it could freestyle with the best of them last year in the jamboree season, and this year is looking to do the same. With an upcoming fresh look done by Shaw, it will have an entirely new attitude but also will still have that beautiful red, white, and blue scheme that has become part of Kiser’s identity.
After taking the mega-monster tag team victory a season ago, he’s ready to show that the youth movement is far from done in this business.
Driver: Tommy Varilone
Body: 2012 Ram 1500
The eighth truck in the field this year is one that back in the day, almost could be considered a second Bear Foot.
In 1995, Shafer and the team decided to take it’s two-truck operation to a new level. It was a couple years prior that the team expanded to have a second truck in the fleet. Alongside Bear Foot, the Dodge Express was almost a mirror image of Fred’s truck, since when Fred got a new piece, the second truck was his old piece. During the first couple years, teammate Ken Deppe piloted the second truck and made the Dodge Express a tough contender.
But, the next year, that truck got a makeover. It took on the same look as it’s more-famous teammate, donning a red Dodge Ram body, but took on a new name.
A year later, that name got an all-black body and an entire new feeling. The truck was named Rampage, and driver Todd Frolik made sure people knew this truck wasn’t just the teammate to Bear Foot, but was it’s own machine and should be feared by competitors.
Over the years, the Rampage machine was seen a couple of times, with a different look, but has not really been seen at an event since the mid-2000s. That all changes, as the Rampage name will be joining the jamborees, and will once again be the teammate to the Bear Foot.
Making his debut at the wheel of this machine is Tommy Varilone, a crew man who got involved in the sport by volunteering on teams and simply got hooked into the sport, turning it into a full-time job.
Having the reintroduction of Rampage to the jamborees is big, and Varilone is going to try and rage over the other outlaws in the field.
It is the largest field of trucks for the jamborees since the 2016 season, and having the Outlaw Monster Truck Drags involved has brought a lot of excitement to these shows for the first time in several years. The anticipation for the track designs and ideas certainly are ones that will hopefully live up to what has been seen in years past. The jamborees and the Outlaw Drags have formulated a setup that will include monster truck action the entire weekend, with points being earned for each competition.
Catch the jamboree this season on these weekends:
- July 7-9: A&A Auto Stores Summer 4-Wheel Jamboree Nationals-Bloomsburg Fairgrounds, Bloomsburg, PA
- September 15-17: Fall 4-Wheel Jamboree Nationals-Indiana State Fairgrounds, Indianapolis, IN
At each jamboree, the monster competition will be broke down across all three days.
- FRIDAY: Qualifying to set the single-elimination racing bracket, along with a best trick/skills competition.
- SATURDAY: Single-elimination racing in both first round and semi-final action. All trucks will also compete in single-truck freestyle.
- SUNDAY: Final round to determine the racing champion. All trucks will close the show with tandem freestyle performances.
All these events will earn points for the final round of the Outlaw Monster Truck Drags happening on September 23 at the Canfield Fairgrounds where the 2023 champion will be crowned.
Tickets for both jamborees are already on sale, and registration is still open for those wanting to compete in the infield action, or just show off their truck in the show-and-shine area. Get ready, this year’s jamboree season will be unleashed and unlike any we have seen in years past.