Photo Credit: TheMonsterBlog.com via Facebook
When the 4-Wheel Jamboree season concluded it's opening weekend in Lima, Ohio, the one thing that was common among the monster truck competition all three days was parity. With four racing programs slated the entire weekend, it saw three different winners. Freestyle was exactly the same way, with five different winners. No clear favorite was shown through the first weekend, so when the nine-truck field made the trip to Springfield, Missouri, everyone was curious who would possibly get on a streak, or who could possibly finally get on the winning track in 2014.
Springfield has provided a challenge in recent years for the monster trucks because unlike a decade ago, the track is run on asphalt with dirt ramps, which makes it difficult for teams to get a grip if things begin getting slick.
The J-hook style course this year would again provide excitement for the rounds of racing, and with a stacked line-up ready to do battle, the fans were ready to see some more intense action.
Conditions were very dry with the sun out, and it made the sticky asphalt have a lot of grip, and it made for strong cornering by all the trucks. The Hall Brothers were hoping to get off to a better start than how their day ended in Lima last month, as both the Raminator of Mark Hall and the Rammunition of Mat Dishman, both arrived at Springfield with a set of fresh Firestone tires, the same design that Hall debuted at the season finale of the Monster Nationals, and they showed that the grip was a lot better than expected. But, neither truck in the afternoon would see victory lane. Instead, it was the hometown team that made the biggest noise.
In Lima, it was Larry Swim getting the first win of the season for the Bigfoot team in his Lucas Oil-sponsored truck, but in the first race in the team's home state, it was the silver and blue Raptor of Dan Runte in the Summit Racing Bigfoot that took home the first win of his season.
When it came time to freestyle, the one guy that stood out above the rest was just getting warmed up for the weekend. But that didn't mean he wouldn't blow a little smoke to get the crowd warmed up.
Dave Radzierez would make his XDP diesel shine once again with a big assault on the track, that was highlighted by a near roll but turned into a spectacular wheelstand by the 2010 Ford Super Duty and save by the driver in just his third season of full-blown competition with the truck. Yet there was no question during that afternoon of who was the top show-off for the Missouri faithful.
As the day wore on, the temperatures cooled off, but the sun still came down on the track, meaning the evening show would have a glow of sunset around the track.
Already having one win on the season, it was clear Team Bigfoot was ready to make a sweep of the Saturday card. But, in an ironic twist, it began to be a mirror image of the order of victories from Lima, at least when it came to the multi-truck teams that were coming up with victories. For the evening, just like in Lima, the next team that would win the bracket would come from the stable of the Hall Brothers.
In this case, the truck that won it was defending champion Hall, who put the new-look Raminator in victory lane for the first time all season.
To follow up a strong day of racing, the even freestyle program was highlighted by a driver who was in a monster truck, but the body was that of a classic car. Jim Koehler in his 1957 Chevy Bel-Air named Avenger skied over every obstacle and each dirt hill he could, showing why he is a two-time world champion in that category.
Through six racing programs this year, there have been five different winners. There is still no clear favorite to win either championship at this point as even with freestyle, the fans have chosen different winners in each round. That could continue tomorrow as the Springfield weekend still has one monster truck round to go, and it includes yet another stunt attempt.
To go along with racing and freestyle beginning at 3:30 p.m. tomorrow, Radzierez will once again attempt to backflip his diesel-powered monster truck. In Lima, he completed the flip, but not without hitting the nose and also having the ramp give way just a bit on the attempt. He will once again try to make a clean flip in front of the Missouri fans.
Visit 4WheelJamboree.com for the latest results, and "like" their Facebook page to get the latest results of everything happening in Springfield and the rest of the tour.