It’s been made clear that for a while, something was off with the 4-Wheel Jamboree. It felt like it was the same song, new season, for the infield action. It became predictable, and despite the large crowds, things stayed the same. The times of the infield action became well known, and many would schedule when to arrive for the show based on those times.
Then came 2020, where the hope was to invigorate the infield action. A new layout, a new track, and adding in some more action was the need the new crew hoped to provide; and then Covid decided to do a different kind of injection. It kept being critical over the next few years, and fans made it known.
From then on, it was made clear from fans that the action in the infield needed help. Something needed done. People did not want to just see the mega trucks as the main attraction, because the true jamboree fans wanted to see the return of the main attraction that brought all ages of fans to their feet…the monsters. In 2022, they were brought back after a year hiatus, however much like in 2020, they didn’t do much racing. The only action they saw were a trio of freestyles over the course of a weekend.
Something needed done…and for 2023, it did.
The infield action got an entire new look as the Outlaw Monster Truck Drags would take over the main event for the season. The race course for both the megas and the monsters, due to the infield now being part of a dirt track, saw no straight-line drag racing. In its place, a wide-spread Chicago-style course with the starting line near the apex of turns 1 and 2, rounding through the corners near the wall over two large hills and then a pair of elevated vans. The trucks hooked through turns 3 and 4 back to the inside of the course, launching over a final hill with a concrete barrier at the top, the finish line being on the bottom side of the hill.
A track that no one in Bloomsburg had ever seen, and the first track in Bloomsburg to include turns since the 2015 season certainly gave fans a reason to come out.
If not, the lineup for this year would, because it was giving many fans vibes of the 1990’s era when the Penda Points Series was in town. Four trucks that ran during that era returned, with new individuals at the wheel. Three of them were making it a family affair, as Rodney Tweedy brought out a classic-looking USA-1 Chevrolet, while his one son, Logan, piloted a mean-looking black Bear Foot, complete with a raked stance that gave serious Fred Shafer vibes from late in his career. His other son, Austin, got the honor of piloting the 30th Anniversary Monster Patrol, complete with the wing.
In addition to the family, Tommy Varilone would bring out another name that was made famous in the Penda days, the teammate to Bear Foot, in Rampage. However, the body was covered as the weekend started as this would be the official unveiling of the truck, the first time it has ran since the mid-2000s.
Along with these classic names, Dalton Van Syock returned with a TNT-era looking Stomper Chevy, while teammate Colton Kiser came back to Bloomsburg with his American Scout, ready to show off the patriotic colors to his fans.
Rounding out the field was Preston Perez, the lone Ford in the field, hoping to slime his way to victory in the Toxic Super Duty. Then, the original outlaw himself, Joey Sylvester, unveiled an entire new look on his Jeep Gladiator, Bad Habit, throwing it back to the original look when he first got into the monster truck industry.
The first night of competition was not against one another, but against the clock, as qualifying would set up the racing bracket.
It was clear from the get-go that the track was going to be difficult to conquer since the latter jumps were so big, going full-tilt could cost time instead of gain. That seemed to be the case with most of the runs as many were getting bigger air over the vans, and soon after trying to gather it up to make the final corner. It resulted in some close races to the finish line, including seeing Austin eek out a triumph over his dad. Although not for a win, the son did beat the dad across the line.
Track conditions were a little slick as a brief shower came through a few hours before the Friday action, dampening the track just enough where the water truck only needed to mist a few areas to keep the dust down.
Still, it was a good night as Sylvester found himself at the top of the bracket, with Perez right behind.
The skills competition was the moment a lot of breakage came about. Right out the gate, Syock went large over the jammer van, trying for a slap wheelie. The only problem was, when the slap happened, the right-front tire decided to take a holiday. The entire center section snapped, and in doing so ripped out lug studs, and even broke the flange on the rim where the tire sits on the hub. A long night was ahead for the Stomper team, but no one had a longer night ahead than the Monster Patrol crew.
When the body design debuted months earlier, that same night it got destroyed in a pair of rollovers. Hoping to avoid the same scenario he did that night, Austin tried another attempt at a wheelie just like Syock. His attempt went awry as the truck rocked back on the wheelie bar, then on one tire. The wing caught the ground and despite trying to avoid disaster, the Monster Patrol went on it’s side once again. Some body repairs, extensive wing fixes, and a flattened tire made it clear it was not going to be an easy night.
The skills competition would be won by Perez, as he would balance the Toxic Ford on the front tires and pull a reverse wheelstand across the right lane hillside. Following it up with a cyclone in the infield, he would take his first Outlaw trophy on the weekend, but Toxic was not done yet.
During the winning interview, Perez revealed that an encore was approaching. Long-time crew member, Kevin Ricco, was giving the opportunity with his family in attendance to put on a freestyle for them, something many of his family had not seen before.
Knowing he could not pull off a couple of the tricks the more experienced drivers have, all he figured he could do was make an impression by skying out the truck.
He did that on the first hit, nailing the van so hard he flew above the short track catch fence, and it was on from there. He would hit every obstacle he could, crossing up a few different times, but not ending up on the roof. Ricco’s run came to an end when the truck got stuck in first gear and it caused the engine to rev higher on the RPMs, so crew chief and fellow Toxic driver, Cory Snyder, shut him down. When it was done, the crowd was roaring their approval, and every driver in the hot pits came over giving him some high-fives, hand shakes, and encouraging words for his performance. Quite the way to end the night for the Outlaws, and yet another day was coming.
Many of the teams were working well into the afternoon getting repairs done. Austin was dealing with a cut tire that came on the last jump, as the concrete railing put a two-inch gash in the rubber. He went as far as an entire pack of tire plugs, and then tried sealing it up with Gorilla Tape, just to make it through the afternoon.
His dad and crew were tearing apart the front end due to gear oil leaking out of the differential, as during his entire performance smoke was coming right at the center chunk. Austin and crew were working hard to get the truck ready to go, as the wing was the main damage done, but for the most part was intact.
Syock and crew had to weld, cut, and fit the new hub on. Ironically, the team had new ones coming for the truck, but were not to arrive for another two weeks.
Most of the remainder of the trucks just worried about routine maintenance, because the main event would happen on Saturday night, and all eight trucks were ready to hammer down in the bracket racing and a full-on freestyle assault on the infield.
Right away it was team trucks taking to the track, with Kiser and Syock in the opening matchup. Kiser would get the win as Syock would land hard following the van jump, flattening the left rear tire on Stomper, and electing to head to the pits. The team did have a spare in the hauler, as they saw a gash that might not be able to be repaired in their cut Goodyear terra. However, it was not mounted on the rim, and with no time to do the proper tire swap, this is when another racer stepped in for assistance.
After getting the win over Rampage, Perez called to Ricco to get their spare tire out of the trailer. Both trucks ran the same style hub and lug pattern, so they allowed the Stomper team to run the spare for the remainder of the night so they could do the proper repair or swap later.
In the remainder of the opening round, Bear Foot took down Monster Patrol, while Sylvester had to come from behind to get past USA-1. That race originally was called in favor of “Hot Rod” Tweedy, but it was found that Sylvester managed to get past in time before the finish line, moving him into the next round.
The semi-finals would see Perez get past Kiser, and then Sylvester making it past Logan to set up a Ford vs. Jeep final.
Both trucks left the line extremely hard, but Perez got through the corner just ahead of Sylvester. Through the second leg, the monster Jeep began making up time, getting even with Perez after the second jump and hauling into the last leg. The final corner was critical, as the 1-ton drivers and mega trucks each tried to sweep into the final corner, only to over rotate. Each tried to take it easy into the corner, and power hard to the final jump.
Sylvester dug in and Perez was right with him, but Sylvester got the truck straight and pushed across the line, taking the Bloomsburg leg of the Outlaw Monster Truck Drags. This would extend his streak of wins on the Outlaw tour as he has won each racing competition since the series has been able to be in front of a live crowd dating back to 2021. He would also win the final racing event at the Outlaw pay-per-view in 2020 at Yankee Lake, Ohio, a streak now sitting at five consecutive events.
Outlaw Monster Truck Drags
- Round 1: American Scout def. Stomper; Toxic def. Rampage; Bear Foot def. Monster Patrol; Bad Habit def. USA-1
- Semi-Finals: Toxic def. American Scout; Bad Habit def. Bear Foot
- Outlaw Finals: Bad Habit def. Toxic
Once the 1-ton finals and the championship round of the mega trucks took place, the track was cleared as it was time to let every truck turn loose on the infield for freestyle.
Syock had a strong start to the competition, running hard and trying desperately to get the classic-looking Chevrolet to ride a wheelstand down the track. He never could get the right bounce, but got things started in a strong fashion. Logan then had a very stellar run after having to do a tire swap with his brother, as the Gorilla tape only held for so long. Varilone then put forth an inaugural Rampage freestyle that the judges felt was enough for the lead, including a wheelstand right down the infield.
Kiser came out ready to hit the track hard, but after one hit on the sky jump between the k-rails, he pulled into the pits as he was only getting front-wheel drive in the Chevrolet square body. It turned out the rear driveshaft had pulled out of the transfer case, costing him all the pull on the rear tires.
A strong performance by Hot Rod was followed up in a big way by his son, as Austin hit the track to show that even with a damaged wing, the Monster Patrol could still fly strong.
A popper off the finish line jump, multiple hits on the van, and some big air from the closest jumps to the crowd put him squarely in the lead with two trucks remaining.
Perez tried his hardest to not only one-up Monster Patrol, but after seeing his friend and crewman put on a stellar encore the night before, he needed to show that Toxic was his ride to win in. As hard as he ran, including soaring as high as the catch fence and slinging a donut with the LED’s glowing in the dust, it was not enough for the lead. All that was left to run was the monster Jeep, and even that started a bit rough as the truck sputtered after the first hit.
Sylvester rolled into the pits and many crew members were trying to get the issue figured out. Eventually, the issue of the truck not staying running was fixed, and Sylvester took out the frustration of his momentum being halted out really quick on the infield.
His Yokohama tires were ripping up the dirt, and his purple and orange Jeep was hitting every hill, every car and every van in sight, including the SUV in turn 4 that not one driver had even touched. His run was going so hard that his brakes were beginning to glow red, and soon after began showing some true fire. The rotors were red hot by the time his high-flying, fast-paced run came to an end, and the crowd let him hear their appreciation. But, even with the action he provided, the judges felt that Austin had a better performance, and gave him the freestyle victory to conclude the Outlaw Drags action in Bloomsburg.
This was just the beginning for this series in 2023, as they will compete in back-to-back weekends of action beginning September 15-17. The 4-Wheel Jamboree will hold their second event of the year at the Indiana State Fairgrounds, and the Outlaws are coming there with the intention of putting on a clinic on the asphalt.
Having the entire infield of the Hoosier Mile at their disposal, Sylvester is already making plans on the track design.
When asked about the ideas, since the series name has “Drags” in the title, he was planning to head out to the fairgrounds for some initial measurements, since he wants to take a page out of the Penda days and do his own straight-line course. But, unlike the track size back in the 1990’s that was 350 feet in length, and had only two jumps, Sylvester wants to push the limits of the infield asphalt. He is looking to make a track that is almost double that size, with more jumps, to make each driver challenge when to hit the throttle hard, and when to roll on to keep momentum going.
Find out if his ideas become a reality by getting your Jamboree tickets and see for yourself.