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US Hot Rod Monster Jam at Stafford Springs
Sunday 3rd August 1997
On Sunday 3rd of august 13 of the world's best monster trucks rolled
into the Stafford Motor
Speedway in Northeastern Connecticut for some quick, high flying racing
The trucks which attended were Grave
Wild Thang, Little Tiger, Thrasher,
Outlaw, and Mopar Magic.
Mopar Magic suffered problems on Saturday night and thus would not
compete on Sunday.
Before the racing began, the fans were treated to a pit party, where
they where able to get up close & personal with their favorite
monster trucks, drivers & crew. This gave the fans a chance to
take photo's of the trucks & drivers. The drivers where also happy
to sign anything from program books to t-shirts.
Once the pit party was over, it was time to get down to serious racing.
The track took it's toll, on a number of the competing monster trucks,
with a number of them, breaking parts, or having technical problems.
Before the racing had even started, Pat Summa's Thrasher monster
truck suffered problems, which put the truck in jeopardy for competition.
It was rumored to have been a battery problem.
The Carolina Crusher truck broke in the track with a 7.22 second pass.
On the long, straight line track, this was a very respectable run.
As the loose dirt on the starting line was cleared, times began to get
quicker. Kirk Dabney of the Overkill truck put together a nice and
smooth 7.09 second pass. This 7.09 held up for 3rd Quickest time
overall, as only Monster Patrol and Grave Digger were able to break the
7-second barrier. Meents clocked in a 2nd best at 6.99 and Robert
Parker's Chevrolet Grave Digger took the track by storm at a 6.93 second
Round 1 racing went extremely well with the exception of John Seasock's
Sudden Impact, who was plagued with ignition troubles. Seasock fixed
the problem and would be placed into the bracket in Round 2.
Sam Marino's Raptor monster truck treated the crowd to an exhibition after
Round 1. Sam is spending the 1997 season promoting his new 48" Tire
"Pro Stock" Monster Truck class. After a complete run over the course,
Marino brought the truck back into the center of the track to do
Also in Round 1 was trouble for Bob Fisher's Ford Liquidator. Following
a hard landing, the right rear shock on the vehicle curled up, almost creating
an "L" shape. Needless to say, this would knock Fisher out for the
some donuts. The Firestone tires on Raptor unfortunately dug
in and flipped the truck. Marino emerged from the truck unscathed,
however the fiberglass body suffered damage.
"We came up to do one big pass and see how the truck was running. We
gave it gas and hit the jumps real well. We came back to do an exhibition
donut. We were coming around, and it seems like these new big Firestones
hooked up very well, and I thought I had enough wheel spin
when I gave it the gas. I had too much bite. When I tried
to pull out of the roll, we don't have a locker in the rear, I gave it
the gas to pull out. One tire was on the ground and that did all
the spinning and it didn't pull me out of the roll, and that forced me
to flip over," said
Sam Marino, the driver of Raptor following the wreck.
Seasock's Joe Racer-sponsored Sudden Impact would have more trouble in
Round 2, which resulted in a loss to the Extreme Overkill Ford. Seasock
now shelled out a transmission, which completed his day.
Robert Parker in Grave Digger had troubles in Round 2 as well. Allen
Pezo in Predator got a huge hole shot over Parker, which made Robert Parker
play catch-up. A huge launch and hard landing on the rear wheels
would cause the 1950 Chevrolet Panel Wagon to have some troubles. The left
side door was knocked completely off of the truck. Also, the tires
made contact with the fiberglass body which resulted in a few cracks along
the rear side of the body.
"We went out there and pretty much broke the whole body off the truck,
you know," said Robert Parker of Grave Digger after his rough ride in Round
2. "This is a really rough track, but, hey, that's what the fans want to
see." Parker also said that the damage was minor enough that the
truck would be back in competition.
Following Round 2 was a brief intermission to let the trucks cool.
The first event after the intermission was a stunt act, where an infamous
Hollywood Stuntman climbed up 125' above the turf at the Stafford Motor
Speedway and plunged into an airbag -- while on fire! He emerged
fine and the safety crews doused the flames only seconds later. After
a few tense moments, he stood up to the cheers of the crowd.
Racing action picked up again with the Semi-Final round. Overkill
went on to beat the North Vernon, Indiana-based Wild Thang to advance to
the finals. In the other semi-final match, Monster Patrol took the
easy win over Grave Digger when Parker fell victim to a loose bite at the
After the Semi-Final Round, several monster trucks were invited to
a freestyle competition, much to the delight of the crowd. Pat Summa's
Thrasher opened up with some wheel stand action, followed up by some donuts
by Brian Barthel's Little Tiger. Tony Farrel's Wild Thang monster
came out to catch some serious air for the crowd. However, the most
applause was saved for none other than the Grave Digger. With "Bad
To Da Bone" playing in the background, Parker only used 2 of the 4 wheels
put the crowd on their feet. Sideways launches, donuts, anything
short of wrecking the truck was done. The freestyle display was ended
prematurely when Parker blew a transmission and was forced to be towed
off the track.
This got the crowd pumped up for the finals, and indeed it was a good
one. The Ford Overkill versus the Chevrolet Monster Patrol.
In the closest and quickest race of the night, Kirk Dabney's Extreme Overkill
took out Tom Meents's Monster Patrol for the victory. Following the
final round match, both trucks simultaneously took to freestyle exhibitioning,
and the biggest crowd applause was saved for Tom Meents's Monster Patrol.
Tom did his trademark "Wing Walk", where he stands on the spoiler of Monster
Patrol and surfs down the track while the truck is still moving.
The 10th Annual Stafford Springs Monster Jam brought a lot of smiles
to a lot of people's faces and will be remembered as an excellent event
for a long time to come.
Written by Andrew Palochko. Edited by Andrew Fielder
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