Photo Credit: Danny Maass, TheMonsterBlog.com/Maass Media
It is well known that home-field advantage in any sport is enormous. It pumps up the home team to do better in front of their own fans, but it's familiar surroundings and a more normal routine to get into when a team is in their own stadium or arena.
The same can be said for monster truck teams when drivers perform in their home town. The Monster Nationals had that kind of feel as the series returned after a week off to the State Farm Center in Champaign, Illinois. This is located right in the town where the Hall Brothers Racing team have their entire operation, and wanting to make sure they protected "their house," the team had Mark Hall and Mat Dishman bring out the all-new Raminator and Rammunition for competition. Alongside them would be the Lucas Oil Bigfoot of Eric Tack and finally it would be Vern House in the War Wizard.
Only four trucks would attend this event, as has been common in many years. The State Farm Center is the smallest arena the Monster Nationals tour visits each year, with enough room for just two sets of cars, just four cars each. With five competitions slated for the one-night event, the "Monster Nite Out" would make for rather interesting results.
With two sets of fresh cars, the first competition of the night was the wheelie contest. Just two hits a piece meant the later runs would mean more difficulty in launching to the roof. Every truck had great leaps, but the black Ram would be the top truck to start out the night, as Hall made sure he broke through first in the win category. Following a cool-down, the trucks would avoid the wrecked vehicles and go for the win in the donut contest.
However, repairs would begin in the pits for the title sponsor truck.
Following the wheelie contest, the Bigfoot team went hard to work, discovering a problem in the planetary on the left-rear. Tack went to work taking the tire off and going at the repairs, while the show continued on. He would decide to not participate in the donut contest, meaning the Hall Brothers had the advantage The concrete once again worked excellent for Hall, as the Goodyear tires gripped and the smoke billowed. Two contests, and two wins for the Ram Heavy Duty.
Up next, a contest Hall has dominated, the long jump. But, this night went to a really wicked Willy's.
House launched the truck high and long, but began twisting in air, and upon landing it took power, and some skill, to bring the red beast back down to earth. The crowd went absolutely nuts, and denied the Hall Brothers another win on the night.
Meanwhile, the pits were going hard and fast in the hopes of getting the Bigfoot machine back out for racing. And about an hour later, the truck was repaired, ready to bring the Ford Raptor to the top of the heap. The quick racing course meant reaction time would be everything, and it would be no surprise that when the finals came around, it would be Bigfoot vs. Raminator once more. The classic Family Events battle would go indoors, as it would be the 3D Ram against the bright KC lights on the Raptor. When the light went green, both drivers launched hard, but Hall went skyward, while Tack went forward. That difference paved the way for Tack to take home the big trophy, winning yet another racing event.
After intermission, the track remained the same. The small arena meant that for the freestyle portion, speed would be one's friend because the cars by this time were crushed down, and momentum would lead to big air.
All four trucks would put on a great show, but Hall decided to add something that no other truck had done all night. During his run, he was able to get the truck to drift the back end, something that is hard to do on a big track, much less a smaller arena. Hall would drift his Ram all over the small floor, and make the HEMI motor scream. The hometown fans could not get enough, and in the end, Hall would be the one standing above the rest, capturing the freestyle win, and taking home three of the five wins on the night.
At this point in the year, Hall is dominating the tour, and is looking for even more as the tour heads south next weekend for two huge shows.
Next on the tour is the Corbin Arena in Corbin, Kentucky. All four trucks that went to Champaign will be in attendance, but at this show yet another strong contender will be looking to steal some thunder. The truck is a historic name in the industry, with a second-generation driver.
Joining House, Tack, Dishman and Hall will be young Allison Patrick, the daughter of Hall of Fame driver and truck fabricator, Dan Patrick, at the wheel of the big-armed Chevrolet, Samson. Already with a year of experience under her belt, Patrick is showing she can handle her dad's truck just like any experienced driver. She could give all the boys some headaches when the tour heads to the Bluegrass State.
For all the information on event times, locations, and where to buy tickets, visit MonsterNationals.com, and visit their Facebook page for photos from the event, including updated results.