Arnhem Lives Up To The Hype Again

By Scott Douglass
Sep 28, 2010

Monster Jam Europe’s annual extravaganza in Arnhem, Holland, has been described in so many superlative terms. I’ve been calling it the Crown Jewel of Monster Jam Europe. Many of the drivers who have competed there call it the European World Finals. Whatever name you attach to it, the anticipation that builds each late summer as we near the return to the awesome Gelredome and some of the most enthusiastic and supportive fans in all of Europe is second only to the buzz generated leading up to the trek each March out to Las Vegas to crown the new World Champions. And like the World Finals seems to take us to new heights every year, this year’s three Dutch stadium events in less than 28 hours again not only lived up to the hype, it surpassed the pre-event build-up.

One thing I learned this year is that I probably shouldn’t say just “the Dutch fans” when I’m talking about the tens of thousands who jam into the state-of-the art soccer stadium that is one of Europe’s busiest all-purpose major event facilities, because this year more than ever I talked with more fans who came from countries outside of The Netherlands than I have in years past. I spent lots of time talking with several fans from Switzerland, which is a long, long drive who told me that they plan their holiday each year to come up and see Monster Jam in Arnhem, and I talked directly with lots of fans from Germany, Belgium, and France, and I’m sure that there were more countries represented among the throngs in attendance.

Certainly one of the reasons that this event has become so big is the venue itself. If you are big time, main event, headliner caliber and you are going to appear in Europe you are going to play the Gelredome. Paul McCartney, Bruce Springsteen, Madonna, Britney Spears, U-2, and of course Monster Jam, are just some of the superstar level talents that have packed the facility. The Gelredome has got to be a big part of the bidding process that Holland and Belgium are teaming up for to try and lure either the 2018 or 2022 World Cup to those two countries, and we know first fans what great hosts both of those countries will be if they win the bid.

The obstacles this year for freestyle were amazing and throughout the weekend each of the dozen superstars in action had great highlight moments that got the packed houses rocking.  After the events it was fun to chat with the fans sporting big smiles on their faces, finding out what was the most memorable part of the action for them. I do that each year, and in 2010 there’s no doubt that the most talked about moment of the weekend was Charlie Pauken’s winning freestyle run Sunday afternoon in Grave Digger XXII. It was fitting of the World Freestyle Champion start to finish but the Wow moment that seemed to create the biggest cheers and the most post-event buzz was Pauken’s wicked slap wheelie across the length of the floor where he hit the racing table top while still at a 90 degree angle, the truck then wildly flipped up onto the front two wheels, yet after that somehow the legend kept control of the truck and saved it from what appeared to be a sure end over end rollover. Simply, a phenomenal save from a driver who delivers the spectacular on a regular basis.

The great thing about the event for fans on this side of the Atlantic Ocean is that once again the Speed cameras were there and Arnhem will again be a part of next year’s television package. The plan is to do the TV coverage a little different this time though and I think it will be well received by the fans here. If you saw the coverage from last year’s Arnhem events then you’ll remember that we covered all three shows equally for racing and then for freestyle within each hour format. Action packed for sure, but this year we will actually cover one of the racing events and one of the freestyle events start to finish, as we do with the other shows that make it to broadcast, while mixing in just the best highlights from the other two shows. Now we covered all three events as if that specific show would be the one featured on Speed, and even though I have no input in how that decision will eventually be made, I think you could make a strong case that both the Sunday afternoon racing bracket and freestyle competition will be chosen for the Speed coverage. The whole weekend was off the charts, but Sunday’s weekend finale rates as one of the greatest event’s start to finish that I’ve witnessed live all year, and the fans were so loud the entire day that the atmosphere is almost impossible to describe.

You can read the recaps on our main page here at MonsterJam.com from Arnhem if you missed the results, so I’m not going to go over the winners and losers again here. What I do want to do here in these final few lines of this week’s column is focus on the mechanics, the pit crews, because this event is nothing without them. Exhibit one is Adam Anderson’s Taz. The youngest World Champion in the sport’s history ended his winning freestyle run Saturday afternoon with a spectacular, fiery blown engine and other damage. So when Double-A made it back out for the Saturday night freestyle just a few hours later he was pretty much in a new truck. Between shows the Taz engine and transmission and assorted other parts were changed, while other crew members were pretty much rebuilding the front half of Iron Man, replacing a blown tire on Grave Digger and several other projects that I couldn’t even keep up with. Then they went right back to work after the Saturday night show and one of the reasons the Sunday event was so great is that the work in the pits continued throughout the overnight hours to make sure that there were 12 trucks revved and ready, all at 100% capability for the weekend finale.

I’d love to name names right here but I’m afraid that I’d miss one and I don’t want to do that. Each and every crewmember who worked in Europe is worthy of unsung hero status for the weekend, and we all praise what they did and how professionally and expertly that they did their jobs. Every one of them should be proud and well aware that when the fans were giving all of the Monster Jam drivers standing ovations in Arnhem that those fervent fans were cheering for each crew member as well.

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