Archive for May, 2010
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Click on the Pictures section to see those amazing pictures of last week-end in the Maritimes.
Monster Spectacular 2010 Update – Medicine Hat/Red Deer
By Doug de Nance
It was Monster Spectacular in stereo this past weekend. Two cities. Two teams. Two teammates. Two winners.
The monsters rolled into the rolling foothills of Southern Alberta with two cities to rev up before the off week on the western leg of the 2010 tour. First up was Medicine Hat, named the gas city for all the natural gas resources nearby. Lots of “gas” in the form of methanol racing fuel was about to be burned there on Friday night.
The two teams that had been frequently battling it out in the West squared off to do the dance again. The US pairing featured the Sudden Impact team of Sean Duhon driving Cult and Ben “BoBo” Winslow piloting Ground Pounder.
While the two boys from the southern states were set to compete against each other, they had the famous Maniac Racing team from Canada set to spoil their fun. Veteran driver Don Frankish had Maniac tuned to perfection, using the wonderful weather to hide out in the sunshine away from the pits to do his final tweaks. True to his legacy of grooming up and coming drivers, Don Frankish had invited the driver of Western Renegade to come and learn from the master. Barry Parkin leaped at the chance and had the honor this weekend of driving side by side with Frankish in the other Maniac team truck, Jurassic Attack.
Parkin was going to have a great opportunity to learn on the fly. A new wrinkle was to be included to challenge the drivers. Not only would they have to contend with the slick cement surface of a hockey rink. But the cars had been set on plywood that was placed on some sort of powder or dust that caused the car stacks to move like they were alive under the tires of the monsters. Track officials would not reveal the nature of the material, but it certainly challenged the drivers as it was like trying to hit wheelies on the back of a greased pig.
Due to this unique set up, Barry Parkin had his learning delivered by the school of hard knocks on his very first hit during the Monster Wheelie Contest. As the cars shifted under the back tires of Jurassic, Parkin pounded on the throttle. When the spinning back tires grabbed the edge of the first car, Parkin stayed on the throttle and snapped a rear axle, putting him all but out of the game. Then Winslow aggressively approached the cars. Again the liquid nature of the obstacles caused Ground Pounder to not get as vertical as Winslow would have liked. With Frankish preoccupied about his second team truck, his wheelie was not of the form we are used to seeing from Maniac. Sean Duhon, watching the other trucks struggle, took a more finesse approach to the cars and stood Cult at 12 o’clock to take the win by cheer off.
Regardless of being in his rookie year, Winslow as a quick study, experience as well as his team mate. He feathered Ground Pounder’s throttle over the cars to win without much of a challenge from the mechanically challenged Jurassic Attack. Duhon had his work cut out for him, but beat Maniac to advance Cult to the racing final.
What a contrast the two team mates were who sat staged across from each other for the Monster Spectacular Racing Final that night. While dubbed the “Rajun Cajun”, Duhon hardly breaks a sweat when driving. Winslow on the other hand, is literally dripping when he emerges from the cab. Perhaps this intensity is what Duhon worked on this night. As they waited for the light to go green, Duhon stabbed the throttle while still standing hard on the brake. Cult lurched hard but appeared not cross the start line. Winslow however, reacted to the sound of Cult’s engine revving and jumped across the cars a fraction of a second before the light turned green.
It appeared that Winslow had false started and the win would be handed to Cult. But the chief track official ruled that Cult actually did move the tires onto the start line and therefore also had false started. To the delight of the fans, the race would have to be re-run. But the fact that Winslow had actually crossed the cars meant he would have a five foot penalty and have to start back that distance from the line. Cult took the checkered flag and the racing win.
After an amazing monster freestyle and greeting the fans at the post show VIP pit party, the monster drivers and crews had to tire down and load up to make the trek to Central Alberta for a Sunday afternoon matinee performance in Red Deer.
The Maniac team was the last to arrive at the arena on Sunday morning, having spent many late hours repairing the broken axle on Jurassic. Frankish’s blue eyes looked cold and menacing as he tired up the trucks. The Maniac looked more like his namesake every minute as the clock ticked down to show time.
Maniac put a huge challenge down to Duhon in the Wheelie contest, grabbing the biggest air of the day in his pass. With Frankish drawing the final order position, it seemed that the win would have been a given. But Duhon again wowed the crowd with the verticality of his truck position. During the second round of the cheer off, Duhon actually reached out and shook Don’s hand thinking that Maniac had won. But when the track officials consulted the sound meter, Cult had won another Wheelie contest by the slimmest of margins.
Racing pitted the two wheelie finalist against each other, but this time Maniac left no doubt as to who won – defeating Cult by a quarter truck length. Barry Parkin was inspired by the driving of his mentor, but could not keep the front end of Jurassic as low to the cars as Ground Pounder. Winslow would face Maniac in the final.
Winslow had the look of a deer in the headlights as he sat on the line. A few feet away sat the winningest monster truck driver that Canada has ever produced. And Frankish was motivated. He wanted the points that he needed to keep him in the running for the Monster Spectacular 2010 title. Maybe it was the adrenaline that makes Winslow sweat so hard, maybe it was youthful reaction time. Maybe it was the young drivers other career of having to keep out of the way of raging bulls when he performs as a rodeo clown that gave him the edge. Whatever it was, it was enough as Bobo grabbed the racing win by the width of a terra tire tread over Maniac.
Freestyle saw everything from flat track turns to cyclone donuts to slap wheelies to sky wheelies. When the smoke cleared, the fans were on their feet waving their Monster Spectacular souvenir pennants, hats, DVDs and anything else they could lay their hands on to show their love for the drivers.
Monster Spectacular fans were asked by the announcer if they were entertained in both cities. With sport bike and motocross freestyle, plus ATV races in addition to the intense monster truck competition how could they say no.
The Western leg of the tour takes the next weekend off, but the competition rages hot and heavy on the east coast. This time it’s three cities in three days in New Brunswick. Why join the tour trek and catch all three performances of Monster Spectacular as the 2010 tour continues.
Monster Spectacular Penticton May 8 2010 Update
By Doug de Nance
They say that history repeats itself. That old saying was certainly true on Saturday night in Penticton, British Columbia, when talking about Canadian monster truck drivers. The match up was Canada versus the USA in truck teams that night. But it could have been billed as old school versus new school and still had the same trucks on each team.
The Sudden Impact team boasted rookie sensation Ben “BoBo” Winslow in Ground Pounder, along with 7 year veteran Sean Duhon in Cult. But eight years total team driving experience was just a drop in the bucket when compared to the Maniac Racing team.
Don Frankish has been driving monster trucks for 22 years, most of it behind the wheel of the giant Ford Maniac. Frankish is renowned as a groomer of monster drivers, offering training and seat time to develop such stars as Linsey Weenk and Kristie Edge. Most of them have had the honor of driving one of the most recognizable trucks in the world – inside the teal blue colored Triceratops styled 3D body of Jurassic Attack.
But Don had a very special surprise in store for the fans in Penticton. In the same way Jurassic Attack has a million years of history in the inspiration for the look of the truck, Don took a page out of the history books and brought it back to life by coaxing out of retirement the man who was the very first driver of Jurassic Attack, none other than Kevin Weenk.
As the oldest of the famous Weenk brothers, Kevin was the inspiration for the youngest sibling Linsey, now the driver of Blue Thunder and the middle brother Nathan, a Cascar racing champion and freelance monster driver, most recently piloting El Toro Loco. Both brothers had their time behind the wheel of Jurassic Attack. But Kevin started it all back in the early 90’s – first driving an old steel body truck named Young Gun. His rise to fame came when he climbed inside Canada’s first 3D designed truck, Jurassic Attack, in 1995.
While this history was mesmerizing for the true fans of Canadian monster trucks that populated the stands in Penticton, the Sudden Impact team was not impressed. They had done their research, at least according to the “Rajun’ Cajun” Sean Duhon. He made mention of the fact that Frankish was now 42, and while the Maniac driver was a four time former Canadian Monster Truck Champion, there was little respect being shown by Duhon – at least as far as Don’s age was concerned. He also pointed out that Weenk had been retired for a decade to raise his family with the same rural farm values as Weenk had been privileged to receive from his parents. Duhon made sure to remind the fans that history would be written on the track that very night when the monster competitions began.
Duhon seemed intent on writing himself into the history books right away, as Cult aggressively took to the floor during the introductions. He slammed the front tires down on the car stack as if to make the statement that the “Cajun Kid” was here and to be reckoned with right now.
The first competition was the Wheelie Contest and Duhon could have filed a protest as he was forced to use the same lane of crush cars for both his wheelie passes. On the other hand, maybe he felt he had it easy in Wheelie competition.
First up was Maniac. Maybe Frankish had taken Duhon’s comments a bit too emotionally as he slammed into the cars for his first pass perhaps a bit too aggressively. Crush cars on cement are like hitting a moving target as they can slip and slide under 10,000 pounds of monster truck. As Frankish stepped into the throttle to raise Maniac to vertical, the cars shifted sending the big Ford sideways. He got the back end of Maniac so deep into the cars that he pulled out his “kill cable” on the back of the truck and had to have a track official reset it for his second pass.
Winslow was not willing to sit back and show respect to the history behind the Canadian team either. Bobo blasted Ground Pounder into massive wheelies that set the crowd to howling for the wild man from Plymouth, North Carolina. The highly educated driver (he holds two degrees in agriculture science from two different universities), knew he’d have to be great as Jurassic Attack was up next.
While Kevin Weenk is known for his calm and cool demeanor, sometimes even the most collected and controlled individual has circumstances get the better of him. Weenk seemed completely revved up and ready to go as Jurassic roared out to the car stack and pulled into position. The track officials tested the remote ignition interrupter and then… nothing. Jurassic failed to start again. Weenk calmness was out the window and he could be heard cursing and howling at Frankish as they looked over the truck for the source of the problem – including the kill cable that Frankish had pulled on his truck earlier. The clock counted down and it was no points for Jurassic.
Would racing be the same outcome? The Maniac team worked feverishly replacing what turned out to be a faulty starter on Jurassic as the Sudden Impact team faced off in the first bracket. But now Duhon’s desire to win got the better of him and he jumped the green light. Duhon protested to the track officials, but the video replay on the big screen clearly showed him jumping the light. However, Winslow – ever the country gentleman – offered to re-run the race. Perhaps it wasn’t the wisest choice for Winslow, as Cult beat Ground Pounder fair and square. And it may not have been the best choice for the Sudden Impact team, as it gave just the extra time the Maniac team needed to be sure both their trucks were ready to go.
The Monster Racing Final paired up just what the history books ordered as Duhon sat across from Maniac. The announcer had to run for his life as both drivers were too anxious to race to wait for him to set up the final after the RRI test. Both trucks loaded up on the throttle as they waited for the light to go green. Like a burst of dirty thunder, both truck exploded off the line. By the thinnest of margins, Cult took the checkered flag and had a double down winning streak for the night.
As always, Monster Freestyle was for the fans. Chris Arel’s unique format kept the points secret going into the event as he would do for the entire tour. The variable clock was in play as well, with the trucks having to aggressively hit the car stacks, van stack and use the entire arena floor as quickly and aggressively as possible as the driver did not know how much time he would have on the clock. Winslow seemed momentarily surprised that time remained during his run, but used it to his advantage with a smoking cyclone donut to finish his run.
Maniac and Jurassic put in solid runs but both had a shorter clock. Cult had the best of both worlds with a longer clock that he filled with huge air, sky wheelies and donuts, while burning the brake rotors to glowing red with flat track style slide turns in between.
Fans were also treated to Freestyle Motocross, where the demonstration became a “Bigger or Better” competition for their applause. As well, what was to be a demonstration with ATV’s turned into a “Battle of the Brands” with Yamaha and Honda each fielding a team in a best two out of three match up.
The tour moves east this coming weekend with a two city weekend in Alberta. Medicine Hat meets Monster Spectacular on Friday night and then the tour roars across half the province for a matinee show in Red Deer on Sunday afternoon. Why not grab a ticket for both cities and follow the caravan across Alberta as the Monster Spectacular Canadian tour continues for 2010.
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Click here to see the video.
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Go in our PICTURES sections, and then click on QUEBEC CITY (08/05/2010)
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Monster Spectacular in Quebec city… show opening!
CE SAMEDI! Au colisée pepsi de Quebec ::: Le retour de Mike Vaters et Black Stallion dans la Vieille Capitale!
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Chris Arel and the Monster Spectacular returns to Quebec City for a 22nd year in a row !
Pour une 22eme année Chris Arel et le Monster Spectacular de retour au Colisée Pepsi
Iron Outlaw, Bounty Hunter, Dominator et autres.
Aussi Ben Milot en FMX avec ses backflips uniques!
Le grand retour du champion Black Stallion, Mike “darky dark” Vaters… Soyez-y!
Press Conference on Thursday May 6th at the South Okanagan Event Centre. Bobo really looks like he was having fun there!
You can meet the Coast Platinum Productions Girls and the Monster Trucks drivers at the Element Night Club tonight (May 7, 2010) for the STUFF BEACH PARTY who will present a Bikini Contest. Bobo and pal Sean will be the official judges for this presentation!
There is still some good tickets available for the Monster Spectacular at the SOEC, but hurry up!
You can buy your tickets directly at the box office at the SOEC or call 1-877-SOEC-TIX – $15, $26, $32