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Looking Back At Some Of The Greatest Advance Auto Parts Monster Jams Of 2012

By Scott Douglass
Dec 23, 2012







While last Sunday’s CBS Sports Spectacular gave us an incredible preview of the thrills Advance Auto Parts Monster Jam® fans will be enjoying in 2013, this space is being devoted this week to a look back at the greatest year of thrills we’ve ever seen in both racing and freestyle. The action on the track in 2012 created lasting memories for millions and every fan has their own favorite moments from this past year, so I decided to look back and create my own list of the top ten events that I had the privilege to be a part of in 2012, and believe me, with so much incredible action over the past 12 months it was tough to narrow this list down to ten.

From the first weekend of January in 2012 to the fabulous night earlier this month in the Minneapolis Metrodome, this was a year of epic performances by the superstars in their amazing Monster Jam® trucks. It was a year that saw the greatest names in the history of the sport add to their legacies while a bevy of rising stars continued to makes their own names in Monster Jam. Looking back on my personal selection of the year’s greatest nights we’ll review them in chronological order:

1)      January 14, 2012, Georgia Dome, Atlanta, Georgia - Dennis Anderson celebrated the first stadium event of the Grave Digger® 30th Anniversary as well as the 20th anniversary of Advance Auto Parts Monster Jam in the Georgia Dome by winning the Double Down trophy, edging Chad Fortune in the new Captain America truck in a close Championship Race and then pulling out a one-point freestyle win over Lupe Soza in the Advance Auto Parts GrinderSM and Adam Anderson’s Grave Digger The Legend® truck in front of another sold-out Georgia Dome crowd that may have set a record for standing ovations from one of the loudest crowds in the sport. Despite finishing in the runner-up spot Soza, the 2004 World Freestyle Champion, turned in one of his greatest freestyles ever in the Advance Auto Parts Grinder. Soza’s run, filled with breathtaking leaps and a series of amazing saves also included one of the WOW moments of the year when a huge air leap landed and Grinder right into another obstacle with the truck nosing down and when Grinder blasted into the next stack the truck went into an end over end flip but landed back on its wheels, and Soza filled the clock and bonus time and then basked in lengthy standing ovations for his phenomenal run.

2)      January 28, 2012, Citrus Bowl, Orlando, Florida - Neil Elliott and Max-DSM stole the show in a night full of awesome performances, winning his first stadium Double Down trophy and even basking in an on the track winner’s congratulations from basketball legend Shaquille O’Neal in front of a roaring, sold out crowd at the Citrus Bowl in Orlando. After winning the racing trophy at one of Advance Auto Parts Monster Jam’s most revered annual events Elliott turned in one of his greatest freestyle performances ever at the Central Florida monster hot spot. In a performance that would go on to win the Freestyle of the Year Award, Elliott and Max-D's two full minutes of thrills and non-stop action gave the fans everything, including maybe the biggest air of the this season along with an unbelievable twisting, rolling save that seemed impossible. Elliott made it possible though and after he pulled Max-D out of that peril he went on to fill the clock and was still able to drive the truck around the track after the run, an early victory lap that was greeted by another standing ovation from the more than 60,000 fans on hand. As Elliott drove off the track Dennis Anderson could be seen inside of Grave Digger tightening his belts even harder and shaking his head, obviously wondering what it was going to take to beat what Max-D had just done.

3)      February 4, 2012, Raymond James Stadium, Tampa, Florida - Reigning World Freestyle Champion Jim Koehler competed in Tampa for the first time and showed the standing room only crowd his championship form to power Avenger to the freestyle victory after Dennis Anderson claimed the racing trophy in Grave Digger during the second trip of the year to Raymond James Stadium. Setting a new attendance record in a facility that has hosted sold out Advance Auto Parts Monster Jam events annually for several years had the 16 truck field pumped up from the start and the fans were excited about the debut of a new race course in Tampa, called West Coast Style with a circuit that featured the trucks starting side-by-side on a table top, turning away from each other before negotiating a tight turn at the far end of the track, then a long powerful straightaway into the final turn and back over the table top to cross to finish line. The new course provided some of the greatest races ever in Tampa’s long Monster Jam history.

4)      February 18, 2012, Dodger Stadium, Los Angeles, California – Neil Elliott and Max-D won his third major stadium racing event in a four week stretch, then Damon Bradshaw rocked L. A. with a winning Monster Energy freestyle that showed off his world championship pedigree on an action packed night of Advance Auto Parts Monster Jam in front of a near capacity crowd at Dodger Stadium. On the sport’s return to one of Major League Baseball’s most revered fields for the second consecutive year a cool but beautiful day weather-wise saw a tremendous crowd pack in to enjoy a 16 truck line-up of some of Advance Auto Parts Monster Jam’s greatest talent, a roster that included southern California extreme sport legend Brian Deegan driving his Metal Mulisha Monster Jam truck.

5)      February 25, 2012, Cowboys Stadium, Arlington, Texas - A near capacity crowd of more than 60,000 roaring fans at Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas, saw just how competitive and amazing the competition is in Advance Auto Parts Monster Jam these days. First Grave Digger celebrated another 30th anniversary win when, despite having a rear differential going out on his truck, Dennis Anderson took the racing trophy in a near dead-heat Championship Race against Marc McDonald in El Toro Loco®, then Tom Meents powered Max-D to a one point win in freestyle over Grave Digger giving Max-D the freestyle trophy at the magnificent home of America’s Team for the second straight year.

6)      March 10, 2012, Carrier Dome, Syracuse, New York - Dennis Anderson drove Grave Digger to the Double Down trophy victory for the second straight week after turning the trick in Jacksonville the previous Saturday night, this time in the purple version of the 30th Anniversary Grave Digger. The Icon followed up his Double Down in Jacksonville March 3rd by edging Tom Meents and Max-D in both racing and freestyle in front of a sold out Carrier Dome on the campus of Syracuse University. With Advance Auto Parts Monster Jam returning to the Carrier Dome for just the second time it was clear from the start the drivers were fired up to see that the home of The Orange was already sold out and threw down a fantastic series of races followed by freestyle after freestyle that kept the crowd roaring. In racing the fans were on fire mostly for the UTI Championship Race which would renew the greatest rivalry in motorsports, Anderson and Grave Digger vs. Meents in Max-D. That final race lived up to the anticipation and was neck and neck from start to finish, with Grave Digger pulling out the win by less than a truck length. Anderson continues to have the upper hand head-to-head in the last couple of years against his arch-rival, the Syracuse victory extending his win streak in rounds of stadium racing against Meents to 8 in a row.

7)      March 23 & 24, 2012, Sam Boyd Stadium, Las Vegas, Nevada – Of course this list has to include the 13th installment of the sport’s most spectacular event. Another epic weekend in Las Vegas provided unparalleled racing excitement and freestyle thrills at Advance Auto Parts Monster Jam World FinalsSM XIII presented by NGK Spark Plugs with the greatest field of competitors in the sport battling for two world titles and it ended with Tom Meents and Max-D extending his amazing record of World Championships to 10 when he won the World Racing Championship for the second straight year and sixth time overall, then Cam McQueen received the ultimate payback from the event that saw him fall a tie-breaker short of the 2011 freestyle crown when he turned in an even more spectacular performance this time to take the Canadian themed Northern NightmareSM truck to the no doubt about it freestyle win, McQueen’s first World Freestyle Championship. A popular addition to Double Down Friday was the new Young Guns Shootout, a racing competition among many of the sport’s newest stars. Bari Musawwir drove Spider-man to the win over Nicole Johnson and Advance Auto Parts Grinder in the first ever Young Guns Shootout Championship Race.

8)      June 16, 2012, Met Life Stadium, East Rutherford, New Jersey – What a night! The first ever Advance Auto Parts Monster Jam stadium event in the New York City market lived up to the incredible hype and was a fitting finale to the amazing Path of Destruction that saw fans flock to Baltimore, Philadelphia, and then to East Rutherford to see the best of the best battle for the racing and freestyle wins. There were so many highlights and memories created here, just a few that come to mind first: Tom Meents not competing in racing or freestyle, yet still making the biggest headlines with his freestyle tribute to firefighters everywhere in the debut of the FDNY Monster Jam truck and then coming up just short in his historic attempt at the first ever double backflip; Adam Anderson in Grave Digger the Legend® snapping his father’s 22-race oval track win streak en route to winning the first ever racing trophy at Met Life Stadium; and of course Neil Elliott rocking the house to win freestyle in Max-D. The amazing work of the pit crews to change all of the huge tires to get the trucks into the stadium after the greatest Party in the Pits this side of Las Vegas is right up there as well.

9)      September 29 & 30, Gelredome, Arnhem, Holland – Just two weeks after an incredible return to a sold out Ullevi Stadium in Gothenburg, Sweden, the Monster Jam World Tour was back in Europe, this time at the state-of-the-art Gelredome for an annual event that has been called the European World Finals and again huge crowds packed in for three stadium events in little more than a 24-hour period. This time the Dutch fans were treated to Monster Jam with a unique twist, the first ever team competition. The action was sensational through all three shows and the team competition made for even more great stories and action as the weekend in the Netherlands unfolded.

10)   December 1, 2012, Metrodome, Minneapolis, Minnesota – Whether you view it as the end of the year or a start of a new season, the traditional fall even at the Metrodome was one of the best the Minnesota fans have ever witnessed. Arguably the greatest line-up of superstars to ever compete in the Metrodome gave fans a bracket full of great races and a 16 truck freestyle that had the crowd roaring from start to finish. Marc McDonald broke through after a season full of runner-up finishes and took El Toro Loco to the racing championship, defeating Monster Energy in the UTI Championship Round. Freestyle was some of the year’s best and was a triumphant return for Ryan Anderson and Son-uva Digger®. In his first stadium competition after successfully rehabbing from injury, the young Anderson won the freestyle trophy with a high flying performance to defend his title from the December 2011 event in Minneapolis.

What a year 2012 has been, and that just sets the table for what is going to be a 2013 sure to create more memorable performances that ever before. By the way, if you want to know how great the list above is consider I had to leave off an incredible night in Jacksonville along with other awesome events across Florida in Miami, Naples, Ocala, and Sunrise, the previously mentioned Gothenburg, Sweden, event, one of the most innovative and exciting weekend’s that I have ever seen in Moline, Illinois, and a special weekend in Hampton, Virginia that included Grave Digger driver Gary Porter dedicating his freestyle victory to the memory of our friend Joe Lowe. Maybe the best thing about all of this incredible action in2012 is that it sets up a 2013 that is sure to be the greatest year of action and thrills that we’ve ever seen.

 

 

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