Posted by doug | Filed under Live Blog
By Doug de Nance
Overwhelmed by the deafening screams of Monster Spectacular fans, the battered monster truck lurched to a stop on a shattered car stack. Bill Payne, the 26-year-old rock star driver of Rockstar, leaned out the driver side window with his index finger raised. One more he signaled, just one more hit. The clock had just run out on his Saturday night freestyle run. And he was begging for one more – one more hit just for the fans.
The fans had been extraordinarily entertained by this point over both Friday and Saturday nights in Red Deer. The town in central Alberta, Canada had been set ablaze by the incredible line up of motorsports entertainment presented by Chris Arel, the brilliant mind behind Monster Spectacular. Friday’s show dominating the front page of the newspaper. That meant that Saturday night had to at least as amazing. Bill Payne knew this as he begged for one more hit for Rockstar.
Payne had dominated the Monster Truck Wheelie Contests in both shows. Friday night saw Rockstar tilt backwards beyond vertical on his very first wheelie hit, barely balancing on the truck’s massive wheelie bar. Just before the truck ended up in a “timber” crash to the floor, Payne simply did what he does best and stomped the throttle through the floorboards. Somehow the back tire bit the crush cars and Payne had straightened out Rockstar into a 12 o’clock tail walk across the car stack. He won the Wheelie Contest cheer off in dominant fashion.
Racing was a slightly different situation. Payne beat his teammate Terri Olson in Miss Behavin’, by flying higher and faster than the pretty girl from St; Joseph, Missouri. But breaking a sway bar in the semi-final, Rockstar looked like it was in a freestyle run rather than a straight ahead drag race as Payne crossed the finish line on two wheels in spectacular fashion, but as the loser. He lost to a familiar truck in Canada, but to an unfamiliar driver.
Don Frankish, the groomer of some of the biggest names in monster trucks today, including Linsey Weenk and Kristy Edge, was at it again. Frankish had blown up the engine of Maniac the weekend before in Reno, so he had all his attention on his latest protégé. The latest young gun benefiting from Don’s decades of experience was Gary Schott, Jr., a 22-year-old sparkplug from San Diego. Here he was in his first big show in Canada and for the first time in serious competition driving Jurassic Attack. With Don’s guidance, he went all the way to the racing final on Friday night. As Schott said later, he need about another 2 feet added on to Jurassic’s front horn to have been able to beat one of the best drag racers in the game – Darren Migues in Bounty Hunter.
Perhaps Payne insistence for one more freestyle hit was because he was still smarting from the racing losses he suffered both nights, but Payne’s’ pain set up a Monster Truck Racing dream matchup on Saturday night. Joe Miller, the 27-year-old Airborne Ranger, fresh off a tour of the Middle East, was sharp as the snipers he trains inside Iron Outlaw. He leveled his steady deadly gaze across the starting line, locked like a laser sight on his team mate in Bounty Hunter. Both trucks were virtually identical, the two Ford Expeditions rated at close to 1800 horsepower. With the trucks at even advantage, this would be a battle of driver skill. Migues experience looked to put the odds on his side. But Miller had the adrenaline pounded through his 18 inch biceps and his trigger finger instantly transferred to his right foot as the flag dropped. Crossing the finish line first, Miller had beaten his teammate for the first time in 2009. Migues was gracious in his congratulations of Miller, saying what counted most was not winning, but entertaining the fans.
A few minutes later, a man who very purpose on earth is to entertain monster truck fans was stopped amidst the screams, begging for one more freestyle hit. Payne had already provided plenty of the destruction he is known for during Saturday’s Wheelie Contest. Risking it all by going beyond vertical again, this time like giant pine under a logger’s saw, Rockstar slowly collapsed upside down on the concrete floor. Payne promised the fans the shattered Rockstar roof would be gone by the end of the night. He still had to deliver that promise as he begged for his final freestyle hit.
His wish granted, Payne eased the 11,000 pound Rockstar gently over the stack. But he didn’t turn an inch. Lining up the back end of the monster truck, Payne floored the throttle and blasted into a massive “reverser” sky wheelie, launching Rockstar into an arc two stories in the air… backwards! Clearing the stack and crashing down on the back wheelie bar, the truck flipped over and slid across the floor upside down, the engine roaring and belching flame as Rockstar’s roof disintegrated.
At any other monster truck show, the sacrifice of Rockstar would have easily been enough for fans to have received more than their money’s worth. But Monster Spectacular has always over delivered – and this two night stand in Red Deer was no different. The Canadian Chaos team had three of the top sport bike freestylers in the country performing impossible street bike stunts on the slick concrete. And fans thrilled to the sight of four top freestyle motorcrossers flying high in an elimination competition. California rider Dustin Nowak hit multiple back flip variations, culminating each night in a no hander that sparked the crowd into a standing ovation.
Standing ovations are different than standing room only. Don’t wait and risk that. Check the show schedule right here, right now to be sure you have your tickets for the Monster Spectacular show that comes to your area in 2009. After all, just like the radio and TV commercials say, “You can have the whole seat, but you’ll only need the edge”.