Photo Credit: Jeff Luckey
As the 4-Wheel Jamboree from Lima, Ohio, wore on, one thing that was abundantly clear through two days of competition was that there was no clear favorite in either category of competition. Trucks and drivers that were expected to do well in both racing and freestyle certainly were, but at the same time there were surprises that caught everyone's attention, and made it more difficult for the competition.
With the final day of competition being Sunday afternoon, things were really heating up in the pit area to get every truck ready for the show, with some needing to do a little more work than others.
Mark Hall, last year's racing champion in the jamboree series, had not seen victory lane all weekend, and in Saturday night's freestyle, he rolled the new Raminator for the first time. Not much damage was sustained, but as it turned out, it would be a bad omen heading into Sunday.
The entire nine-truck field was ready to go for racing, but the Hall Brothers team ran into problems right in the first round. In the opening race, Mike Miller was ready to go all-out in the new Mopar Muscle machine, but would not see victory, and in fact would not even see the finish. Miller's truck came to an abrupt halt on the track, and one look in the back was all the indication he needed. His HEMI engine took so much hard runs over the weekend that it gave out, putting a hole right in the engine block and blowing out all the oil. His jamboree would end with the blue and white Ram 1500 on the back of a tow hook.
Hall and Saturday's winner of both events, Mat Dishman in the Rammunition, advanced into the second round. But in that round it would only get worse.
Hall would go on to win his race, but the truck came to yet another abrupt stop on the track, but not because of engine issues. The team immediately looked at the left-rear tire, specifically the axle area. It turned out that in the win, off the final jump, the planetary gear locked up, and when the crew took one look, they radioed to Hall in the cab and said it was bad. That race would be the final time the Raminator would be on track, making Hall 0-for-4 on the weekend for only the third time in a jamboree event since 2012.
Dishman would not win his second-round race, but would come back as a fast loser to go into the semi-finals, but even then he would not fair as well, and would wait until freestyle to go into action.
What surprised everyone was the winner in racing on this Sunday afternoon. The final victory of the weekend went to a guy who normally is more known for winning freestyle with his big air assaults and loud voice afterward. It would be Jim Koehler in Avenger taking the win on Sunday afternoon, his first-ever racing win at a jamboree.
The freestyle portion of the show would follow, and would only have more catastrophe for the Hall Brothers team.
Dishman would be the only truck of the team to make a run, but he would have the first big highlight on the afternoon. After a big leap across the infield, the truck took a bad hop, twisted to the right, and came down squarely on the front end, breaking the steering ram and the knuckle off the truck, and causing the Ram 1500 to lay over on it's side. It would also be the first time the new Rammunition would roll over in an event, and also would mark a moment that no one expected, the first time at a 4-Wheel Jamboree that all the Hall Brothers trucks would be towed back to the pit area. It certainly is a moment the team would rather forget heading into the season.
At least when freestyle continued, the Rammunition would not be the only truck to end up on it's lid. Randy Moore pushed the War Wizard coupe to it's limit, but would also meet it's taste of the Lima dirt. Avenger and both Bigfoot trucks had excellent runs, but the wait in freestyle was up as now, it was time for the diesel smoke to fly, and possibly flip.
Dave Radzierez brought out the XDP machine for it's final performance, and would make a few hits on the ramps early in the run, just to get the engine warmed up and some boost pressure built. But then, he brought the bright yellow, silver and black Ford to the special ramp built in the infield. The steep 3-car wall was built for one purpose only. Radzierez was ready to attempt to be the first driver to pull off the backflip at a jamboree, and more importantly perform it in a diesel-powered monster truck.
He lined up, and with boost built up, went for the wall. The cars gave just a little bit, as the truck went upward, but Radzierez stayed in the gas, pulling the truck around. The front tires hit, and the back ones soon followed. The only sacrifice, a damaged front nose, but it was still a successful stunt.
The defending freestyle jamboree champion can now add yet another feather in his cap during his relatively young monster truck career: first driver to complete a backflip with a diesel powerplant.
Without a doubt, he would be the winner of freestyle, and already the team is looking ahead to doing it yet another time.
It will be over a month before he can try again as the jamboree tour is off until June 21 and 22 when they head south to Springfield, Missouri and the Ozark Empire Fairgrounds. All nine trucks will be back to do battle on the dirt and asphalt surface for three shows that weekend.
Tickets are available at 4WheelJamboree.com, where all the advance information about the show is available. Follow the Jamboree tour on Facebook and Twitter for updated photos, news, and surprises that could come when the tour heads to the heartland.
CURRENT STANDINGS (4 of 15 races in), 40 points awarded for each round
- Rammunition, Mat Dishman-600
- Lucas Oil Bigfoot, Larry Swim-560
- Avenger, Jim Koehler-520
- Summit Bigfoot, Dan Runte-440
- Raminator, Mark Hall-440
- Mopar Muscle, Mike Miller-360
- The General, Steve Koehler-200
- XDP, Dave Radzierez-200
- War Wizard, Randy Moore-160