Bari's Adventures Anaheim
Feb 2, 2012
Anticipation is a good word to use when you describe how I felt about my next stop on the 2012 Advance Auto parts Monster Jam® tour! When I got my schedule of tour dates and cities my eyes focused on week four for a number of reasons. Anaheim, California would mark the first time I would ever set foot in Southern Cali and I could not wait to get there! If you know my story in what led me to this dream job of becoming a Monster Jam competitor, then you might understand why I was so egger to get to Angles Stadium to race in front of a sold out crowd! But before I get to that, let’s say you don’t know my story, well let me take you back in time a bit. Back in the spring of 2006 I was a competitor at what is now known as the nolimitrc.com R/C Monster Truck World Finals which is held every Memorial Day weekend at World Famous Diggers Dungeon, in Poplar Branch, NC. I ended up doing pretty well at this event which led me to being noticed by a Monster Jam executive that just happened to be in town for work at the Grave Digger® race shop. I’m Speaking of Mr. Bill Easterly, I was pretty floored when Mr. Easterly took the microphone in front of the entire crowd and said, “your pretty good at driving that R/C Monster Truck, I bet if your that impressive with an Radio Controlled truck you could probably be good at driving a real Monster Truck and we would like to have you come and try your hand at driving truck in our test field in the near future”! Talk about being put into a state of immediate shock , I thought to myself, well man, you have always wanted to drive a real monster truck, and now the time has come for you to live out your dream! Ok lets fast forward to 2010, some 4 year after my first test session , when I finally got the call I had been waiting for. I was chosen to drive in my first Monster jam show in Panama City Panama in the summer of 2010 which led to do another show later that year in Guadalajara, Mexico, in preparation for my rookie season in 2011! Now you probably wondering, ok Bari, what does all of this have to do with a trip to Anaheim, California?? Well its simple, Southern California is home to a bunch of Radio Controlled product manufactures! I consider it to be the Mecca of the RC industry! So, not only was I in town to visit some of the RC friends that I have made over the years, but I also got the opportunity to check out where so much of what we see in hobby shops around the world comes from, and not to mention, um yeah I get to wheel around a 10,000 pound Beast of a Monster Truck known as Spiderman, in front of a sold out house LOL! I would say I’m truly blessed!
I started out my adventures on Thursday when I landed! My good friend John Shultz took me to Tulsa BBQ for some great fall of the bone, melt in your mouth ribs! We also went and checked out West Coast RC Hobbies and Raceway for a Big International Indoor off road electric racing event.
After taking in some RC Car Action, I wanted to check out Hollywood Boulevard and see what Beverly Hills looked like. Hollywood Blvd was full of life and it was pretty cool to see all the Stars in the sidewalk like you see on TV. Beverly Hills was amazing full of Gigantic houses for miles! We stopped by Pinks World Famous Hot Dogs for a bite to eat before we called it a night!
Before I knew it Saturday rolled around and it was time to get down to business starting with meeting all the great Advance Autoparts Monster Jam fans at the pit Party! The SolCal locals came out in big numbers ! I always have a blast meeting everybody that comes through the autograph line!
Once the pit party came to an end it was time to get this party started with Monster Jam Action. I got to go out in introductions all by myself to be the center of attention for a few moments as veteran announcer Greg Whittaker welcomed Spiderman and myself, for the first time ever in Anaheim! I paired up with California native Pat Gerber and his sweet Shocker truck in round one. Pat took the early lead, but I was poised to run a smooth lap, in hopes that he might make a mistake on the tricky table top track. In fact as we approached the last turn I could see Pat was getting ready to come out of the corner with the lead as we charged toward the finish line, but he stepped on the throttle a bit too hard and ended up spinning out handing the win to me! Once I parked back in the pits I had a talk with my crew chief David Olfert, and I told him that I felt like I was a little too cautious in that first run and I wanted to switch lanes and step it up in round two. I faced off with fellow Floridian J.R. McNeal and his brand new Razin Kane machine in round two. I was able to put together a pretty good run to advance into the final four! The right lane seemed to suit me better, but I had to battle Former Freestyle World Champion Damon Bradshaw in the semi finals with his all new Monster Energy ride! Damon had lane choice and put me back in the left lane. As we pulled to the starting line I managed to get a good whole shot when the light turned green, and we were neck to neck through the first turn and straightaway, approaching the 2nd turn we were still pretty even, but Damon must have come out of the 2nd turn faster than I did, because he had about a truck length lead by the time we approached the last turn. I would take Spidey over the finish line a bit short, but I was pretty happy with coming within one race of a final round appearance on a track configuration that I had never run before. With my racing night done I set my sites on Freestyle. The unique large table top racing obstacle offered so many different angles of approach when it came to freestyle with all types of freestyle obstacles built into it. I went out 6th in a stacked field of 16 trucks so I knew it was going to be pretty hard to try and win going that early in the competition. I charged out of the pits with my foot to the floor as a lined up for my first obstacle. My goal was just to hit all the jumps as I could with authority while keeping up exciting momentum from obstacle to obstacle! I was able to put together a pretty exciting high energy run, until I couldn’t resist the urge to go into a doughnut which, caused the electrical gremlin we have been chasing all season long to rear its head! As I went into the spin cycle the truck lost power, cutting my run short in bonus time. I ended up with a score of 23 which the crowd made sure they let the judges know they were not happy with! I ended up tied for 5th place overall in freestyle along with World finals competitors Candice Jolly and Jon Zimmer! It would be my teammate Chad Tingler in the 30th anniversary Grave Digger® that would command the victory with an awesome run and a score of 28 to bring the show to an exciting close.
All in all I really had the time of my life in Anaheim, and I hope I can come back next season for sure! We are headed to Fargo, North Dakota this week for 3 big shows inside the Fargo Dome! For more info on this Advance Auto parts Monster Jam® visit http://www.monsterjam.com/Events/2012/02/03/Fargo,_ND/
Until next time Take Care
2011 Monster Jam Rookie of the Year