Max-D's Neil Elliott And Mark Cole Honored By Peers

By Scott Douglass
Nov 20, 2012

During the autumn months each year, while preparing for the busy first quarter of the New Year, dozens of the top drivers and crew members in Advance Auto Parts Monster Jam® get together to compare notes and exchange ideas, looking forward to making the sport even greater and more exciting for the millions of fans who love the action that they produce on the track all over the world. That annual summit was held last weekend, and among the highlights was the annual Awards Ceremony. Two of the most coveted honors are the ones voted on by those in attendance and this year those two trophies were swept by the Max-DSM team as Neil Elliott was named Driver of the Year for 2012 and Mark Cole won the Golden Wrench Award, signifying the selection of his peers as the sport’s top technician. Then the festivities were capped with the annual Jesse Barden Award, which this year was won by veteran Crew Chief Dennis “Bucky” Foltz.

Elliott’s win is a testament to not just the respect he has earned from his peers during his stellar career, but to everything he accomplished on the track over the past year. Neil has been one of the sport’s elite performers for years; still in 2012 you can make the case that this was even more of a breakthrough year for him. During the past 12 months the talented Max-D pilot won his first ever major stadium Double Down trophy by taking both the racing and freestyle wins against an all-star line-up at the Citrus Bowl in Orlando with Shaquille O’Neal leading tens of thousands in cheering his efforts. After taking the Championship Round racing victory in a breathtaking finale against Dennis Anderson and Grave Digger® by .03 seconds, Neil then rocked the house with an amazing freestyle that Anderson told the crowd was the best freestyle he had witnessed all year, a performance that many have called the best of 2012, and Elliott was standing on the stage with his first ever major stadium Double Down trophy. Elliott would turn the trick again just two weeks later when he took home the Double Down hardware from Angels Stadium in Anaheim. Elliott’s year of major victories was then capped off when he powered Max-D to the historic triumph at the first ever stadium freestyle competition contested in the New York City market, Max-D outscoring a World Finals caliber line-up at Met Life Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey.

It appears that another budding, high intensity rivalry gained traction in 2012 that is likely to carry over to 2013. Of course while we all look forward to more renewals of the “Greatest Rivalry in Motorsports” anytime that Anderson brings his Grave Digger into competition against ten-time World Champion Tom Meents in Max-D we’ve seen a spin-off within those teams that has thrilled fans at the same time. For all of his success in 2012 it seemed like just about every time Elliott took Max-D into the racing finals he was looking into the other lane at Team Grave Digger’s Adam Anderson behind the wheel of Grave Digger The Legend®, and those two not only provided a season full of racing photo finishes they also thrilled fans with epic freestyle battles throughout the year. While Neil had his best year ever Adam got his share of 2012 wins in that rivalry as well, so along with Dennis vs. Tom you’ll want to keep your eye on any Neil vs. Adam match-up as well, heading into the New Year. With the Max-D team ready to celebrate ten years of excellence you can bet Adam and every part of the entire Grave Digger roster is dedicated to raining on the Max-D parade every chance they get, much the way the Max-D team spent 2012 trying to spoil the Grave Digger 30th Anniversary party.

So congratulations to Neil Elliott on being selected as the Driver of the Year by his peers, which has to be one of his proudest honors in a year that has been full of great moments for him. Likewise it’s a great tribute to the hard work that Cole has put in during his years if wrenching on Max-D that his colleagues tabbed him as the best Monster Jam Truck technician in the game by voting Cole the winner of the coveted Golden Wrench Award. Mark has made his name as a talented mechanic for sure, and has endeared himself to his teammates and competitors alike as a can-do team player who never quits. Whether it’s Max-D or a competing truck that needs on the spot repair to get back in the game you can expect to find Cole in the middle of the thrashing every time. Cole was very emotional in receiving the award, his speech to his fellow drivers and crew members was a heart-felt thank you to so many who he said have helped him reach the top of his craft, most notably Meents, long-time Max-D Crew Chief Brandon Lambert, and El Toro Loco® driver Marc McDonald. Cole’s remarks were simply a great moment in a great weekend.

While all of the honors handed out were to salute excellence in 2012, the theme of the weekend get together was all about 2013 and future years beyond. The dedication of the drivers and technicians all across the Advance Auto Parts Monster Jam landscape is amazing, and their commitment to continuing to raise the bar and deliver even greater thrills to their fans is inspiring. Certainly in this time of giving thanks for the blessings we all enjoy if you are a fan of this sport you can be thankful as well that those involved in taking this amazing sport to even greater levels approach that endeavor with an incredible dedication that pays off at each and every event with the thrills that only Advance Auto Parts Monster Jam can provide its millions of fans.

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