Monster Spectacular blasts off 2010 in Montreal
“Monster truck fans, this is ground control. All systems are go. Strap yourself in and hold on tight. We are ready for lift off. Five, four, three, two, one. We have ignition…BLAST OFF!!”
That could have easily been the opening for Monster Spectacular in Montreal this past weekend. Instead a spectacular video and fireworks display fired up 50,000 fans in the Olympic Stadium. Actually, the fans didn’t need much firing up fired up – because the biggest monster truck and motorsports entertainment show in Canada was about to begin.
The show began with one more example of Chris Arel creativity. Typically the first monster truck event is a wheelie contest. But this time things got really big – as in big air. It was a monster truck long jump contest. The monsters hit a custom built ramp with each ramp track just wide enough to fit the terra tires. The driver had to show driving skill in hitting the ramp accurately and fearlessness in hitting the throttle. It truly was “blast off” as they headed into orbit, jumping well over 80 feet in distance. The truck everyone was gunning for used all of the 1800 horsepower Bounty Hunter had to give to win with a monster long jump of 93 feet.
Monster racing saw the destruction dozen paired off for the six qualifier races on the Chicago style oval course with the truck racing in opposite directions. First up was Extreme Racing Team truck Scarlet Bandit, piloted by an unknown driver from Ottawa named Joenette Miller. A ruggedly built young lady, judging by the breadth of her shoulders straining the fire suit, she put up a man-sized struggle against her equally mysterious opponent, but to no avail. The masked man from Denver Colorado, Colt Cobra, piloted Snake Bite to a win.
Black Stallion had not competed in Montreal for over a year. In the meantime, driver/owner Mike Vaters had received a new nickname – at least judging by the images appearing in the opening video. The sequence featured a photo of Mike’s face… well, actually only the right half of Mike’s face. The left half was replaced with an image of the ultimate space bad guy, Darth Vader. Suddenly Mike Vaters had been dubbed Darth Vaters, the potential spoiler to a Bounty Hunter win. He began on a winning note, defeating Kyle Chandler in Dominator to advance in the brackets.
Jimmy Creten continued his own winning ways, piloting Bounty Hunter to a win over Brutus – driven by Steve Koehler, the younger brother of Scream Team star Jim Koehler. The elder Koehler used Avenger like a weapon to defeat highly unpopular driver Paul Strong in Marital Law. It should be noted that Paul intentionally created his “heel” status with the fans by plastering his truck with Washington Capitals decals. The local professional hockey team, the Montreal Canadiens, was playing the Capitals that night in the second game of the first round of the NHL playoffs.
The final qualifying brackets saw a most unique monster truck do battle with a young up and comer who stepped up to star status later that evening. CrushStation is the world’s only lobster themed monster truck, complete with beady black eyes and massive claws. Driver Greg Winchenback spent 10 years designing and building the monster; including having the body designed by Glen Claybourne who does art work for horror author Stephen King. The name is a play on words given that monsters crush cars; and CurshStation crushed a victory out over Joe Sylvester’s Bad Habit. As well, another newcomer Razin’ Kane suffered a defeat thanks to Trey Meyers and Iron Warrior to complete the qualifiers.
In Quarter Finals Snake Bite defeat Black Stallion, Bounty Hunter defeat Avenger, Iron Warrior Crushstation defeat Iron Warrior.
Semi finals were intense and fast – Bounty Hunter defeat Snake Bite, and fastest looser of round one Scarlet Bandit came back to race Crushstation. The flying lobster lost and lost control in the last sprint and crossed the track sideways almost smashing into a bus.
Bounty Hunter won the final race.
When all was said and done, Bounty Hunter had won two monster truck competitions in a row.
Freestyle featured the famous and unique Monster Spectacular format of the variable clock. Somewhere between two and four minutes, the red light comes on. As always, the key to an impressive freestyle is momentum, aggression and hitting every obstacle while filling the clock. And what a selection of obstacles there was. A double school bus stack with car stacks around it that allowed monsters to hit it from every angle. Two cube van stacks and multiple traditional van stacks. Even the racing lane car stacks were raised up 3 feet on platforms of dirt. As well, a Super Motar feel was created with lots of bare concrete floor left open for cyclone donuts and flat track slides.
Razin’ Kane struggled with mechanical difficulties, busting a drive shaft on the first jump. Iron Warrior put in a solid run. Martial Law seemed to attract bad karma with his declaration of being a Washington Capitals fan in the heart of Montreal, as he knocked the blower off the engine early in his run and had to cut it short. Kyle Chandler had to snuff an engine fire in Dominator by using his fire suit jacket. CrushStation lived up to its name, smashing every car in its path.
But the first new superstar of the Monster Spectacular season was created when Bad Habit hit the track. An amazing series of freestyle moves that included seriously huge air, sky wheelies and long jumps. The fans were on their feet when Joe Sylvester rolled the truck over after almost throttling out a save. During an on track interview as the track crew worked to run Bad Habit rubber side down, the muscular Italian driver expressed his disappointment in the run, saying that wasn’t the way to end it. He begged Arel to let him back in the truck and run to the red. Chris Arel is a former driver and a fan at heart; he knew that this was a special moment. As soon as the truck was right side up, the wild man from Ohio climbed back in the 2010 Cadillac and put the finishing touches on a run that makes Bad Habit a good habit to have in monster truck freestyle.
Snake Bite was the next truck to really light up the fans. Pulling an amazing array of wheelies, the masked man even dragged the back bar in a twelve o’clock wheelie spark fest to create his own pyro show. Tearing the back half of the body off on his final wheelie had 50,000 fans holding two fingers out in the symbol of the Snake Bite front fangs.
Scarlet Bandit showed that girl power was a power to be reckoned with and Avenger showed why Jim Koehler is called Mr. Excitement. Former World Freestyle Champion Koehler ran the green demon so hard that smoke was pouring out of the back of Avenger as he finished his full four minute run. Another example of a driver making the ultimate sacrifice for what really matters in monster trucks – the fans.
There was an excitement building for the final two trucks as expectations were high. Would Mike Vaters really become Darth Vaters and spoil a perfect night for Jimmy Creten and Bounty Hunter?
Black Stallion galloped onto the track like a herd of wild horses. The aggressive start was the beginning of what promised to be a fantastic freestyle by the 30 year veteran. But the Stallion came up lame too quickly, knocking a front tire off the bead. Despite the flat tire, Vaters continued his run for as long as he could and ended with a cyclone donut that lifted his wounded front wheel off the ground.
Jimmy Creten could have coasted through freestyle. The former World Freestyle Champion could have taken it easy and rode his reputation to victory. But that would not be acceptable to Creten, who literally tore the tack to pieces. Bounty Hunter assertively hit every obstacle with smooth as silk turns. Big air, wheelies donuts – you name a monster truck freestyle move and Bounty Hunter delivered it. Creten ended his run parked on top of the double bus stack to the deafening cheers of the fans. While the other drivers rode in golf carts to wave to the fans, Creten walked the track alone, looking every fan in the eye as if to ingrain his motto, “You can run, but you can’t hide”.
While Monster Spectacular is all about monster trucks, Chris Arel is all about motorsports entertainment. The number one promoter of wheeled wonder delivered much more to the fans that night. The Demolition Devil was back from Green Bay, smashing a convertible car through a double steel wall crash of two full sized cars standing on end. He plowed a pick up into a car stack in a long jump and then hit that same long jump ramp as it was being towed behind a truck – yes, he hit a moving ramp!. He ended the night with a rollover to destroy his final car.
More car destruction was in store in oval demo derby with three disciplines. Pickup trucks and 4 cylinder car categories had cars racing around an oval in a full contact brawl. But the sandwich car event was twice the fun. It featured two cars stacked one on top of the other. The driver in the bottom car controlled the brakes and throttle while his partner in the top car was responsible for steering. Imagine British double-decker buses in a full contact oval race. With the center of gravity so high, the track crew was kept busy in the loaders tipping back upright the sandwich cars.
But hold onto your seat, there’s more. Sam Rogers out of Montana turned a snowmobile upside down over and over again with back flip after back flip. His FSX partner, Jeff Mullin from Kipawa, Quebec rounded out the spectacular tricks.
Fans got more than their fill of jet powered machines. They were treated to see the fastest ¾ scale jet funny car in the world. Armageddon was throwing out sonic booms and monstrous flames. Capable of 200 mph, the 1220 horsepower mustang funny car was a sight to behold. At the very end of the night, the tunnel light up orange as Mike Vaters brought out Kamikaze, the worlds only jet powered ATV. He then lit up the track with a series of slides and stunts as he literally sat astride a jet helicopter engine.
And this is just the beginning. Monster Spectacular continues the 2010 Canadian tour in Regina at the end of April. What? You don’t have your ticket yet? Well, hurry up and grab them before they sell out. After all, for over 20 years, this IS Canada’s greater motorsports entertainment event… this is Monster Spectacular!!!
Next round : Battle of the Prairies, Regina, Saskatchewan, April 30-May 1st at the Brandt Centre