Photo Credit: Brett Moist, Brett Moist Photography
As the calendar year comes to a close, not many forms of motorsports are going on. Sure, NASCAR is still celebrating the conclusion of their latest season, but their off-season is short and is always in motion as new cars get introduced for next year.
Indy Car, NHRA, F1 are all on hiatus until next year. But, the sport of Monster Jam has a tradition of kicking off their 2013 winter season via one final major event in 2012.
That event took place at the Minneapolis Metrodome, the home of the Vikings. It is consistently one of the biggest events for the top stars in the sport as it kicks off their run to the World Finals. Not surprisingly, the top drivers in the industry today were at the Metrodome, including both of this year's world champions, five former world champions, the Young Guns champ, and many fan favorites all putting their claim for the first wins of the year.
The Chicago-style track was what welcomed everyone, and right off the bat things became interesting. Fastest qualifier, Dennis Anderson whom was at the final stop of his 30th Anniversary tour, had engine trouble in the pit area. His truck would not fire, and meanwhile his son, Adam in Grave Digger the Legend, went to the line. On the clock, crew chief Daniel Crawford tried to get the machine to fire, but to no luck.
That meant the fastest driver was out of racing for the night, and the son would move to the next round. In another less surprising upset, it was Marc McDonald taking his El Toro Loco machine to a first round win over Tom Meents in Maximum Destruction, who was kicking off the 10th season of his Max-D machine.
Meents would return for the second round of action, but his run to the title was ended that round by a surprising Bari Musawwir, who for this event was at the wheel of Batman.
One truck that never even got to make a full run was the reintroduced Captain's Curse. Alex Blackwell had an entirely new look to the 1950 Willy's truck, complete with a red frame and black body. However, the motor let go after qualifying, and after diagnosing the issue as a terminal one, the night was over for Blackwell long before it started.
At the end of the night, the final round came down to McDonald and World Finals runner-up Damon Bradshaw in Monster Energy. Both drivers were strong in their respective lanes, but on this night, the crazy bull would be the victor. It was the first victory for McDonald in the Metrodome, and will ultimately be his final win in his current ride.
No, he is not leaving the El Toro Loco camp. Starting in January, the entire El Toro Loco team is getting a revamping. Team drivers Aaron Basl and Chuck Werner will still pilot the popular orange version of the bull, but McDonald and fellow team member Becky McDonough will be in two brand-new looks. McDonald is going with a darker theme as his truck will don a black body with deep red flames, while McDonough is going brighter with some bright red flames on a yellow body.
It is not a bad way for the crazy bull camp to start the season, in victory lane.
Batman over Captain America; El Toro Loco over Maximum Destruction; Grinder over Monster Mutt Dalmatian; Monster Energy over Northern Nightmare; Lucas Oil Crusader over Metal Mulisha; Grave Digger the Legend BYE-RUN (Grave Digger would not start); Son-Uva Digger over Madusa.
Batman over Maximum Destruction (Fast Loser); Monster Energy over Grinder; Grave Digger the Legend over Lucas Oil Crusader; El Toro Loco over Son-Uva Digger.
Monster Energy over Batman; El Toro Loco over Grave Digger the Legend.
El Toro Loco over Monster Energy. Racing Champion: Marc McDonald in El Toro Loco
But the final trophy was the one everyone really wanted to win, and that was freestyle. In a twist to the way things are normally done, the 16-truck field randomly picked their spot for the freestyle field. This meant the possibility of the biggest names going early, and setting the bar high for those that followed.
The night actually started with a special kickoff by the Advance Auto Parts Grinder team. All three trucks were in attendance, but with lead driver Lupe Soza competing in the actual competition, the other two were left out. So, prior to the actual scoring, team drivers Frank Krmel and John Seasock brought out their own Grinder trucks and performed a dual freestyle for the fans.
Once the competition started, it was either go big real quick, or go big but fill the time. Musawwir in Batman rolled over early to start, but action picked up as the third truck out was going for a Double Down trophy. McDonald made a strong run, scoring an early 23.
After an early roll by Captain America, the first of the Anderson family came out to freestyle. In his first stadium event since his injury in Las Vegas, Ryan Anderson roared Son-Uva Digger onto the Metrodome floor and proceeded to show that he hadn't lost a step in his time off. Having just one other event to his credit before Minneapolis, Anderson was still fresh in the seat, but he drove the truck in the ground with a spectacular run, scoring a 27 and taking the lead.
At the midway point of the run, it was time for Meents to come out and live up to the truck's monicre. Problem was, he went so big, so fast, the truck rolled and actually landed with the center of the chassis on the trailers blocking the grandstands. Meents had no way to get off, and his night was over long before it started.
After some full runs by Monster Energy and Grave Digger the Legend, plus a quick roll by current freestyle world champion Cam McQueen in Northern Nightmare, it was time to cap off the 30th Anniversary tour. After fixing the engine issue from racing, Dennis Anderson pulled the green Grave Digger onto the track to lay down a strong run.
He makes it all the way into bonus time before breaking something in the driveline, and yet still couldn't unseat his son from the lead.
The next-to-last truck would be the Lucas Oil Crusader of Linsey Weenk, who threw down an incredible run but was still short of the lead. That left one truck to take down the 1950 Willy's Panel Van, as the last AAP Grinder rolled off to try and take home the win in the first stadium event for the new season.
But, the run would end short, and for the second year in a row, it was Ryan Anderson taking home the freestyle victory in Son-Uva Digger. Quite an accomplishment since he spent most of the summer in a neck brace.
Now, Monster Jam can rest for a month and get ready for the first quarter of action. January through March will see intense action all across the U.S. and Canada, and fans do not want to miss out on the insanity that Monster Jam brings each year.
Visit MonsterJam.com for all the ticket information, latest news, and driver line-ups for each event, and stick with AllAboutHorsepower.com for all the latest information as Monster Jam makes it's next run culminating in the 14th edition of the World Finals from March 22-23.