Has The Monster Jam Racing Torch Been Passed To The Next Generation?
Monster Jam Media
Jan 29, 2013
We’ve seen them coming and been excited about their arrival. We’ve noticed when they’ve had their breakthrough moments and marveled at how quickly they’ve moved into elite status among the Advance Auto Parts Monster Jam® roster of drivers. We’ve talked about the amazing talent that they possess. Now, looking at the results from the first month of on-track racing action in 2013, it appears that the next generation of Monster Jam® has set out to prove that it’s not about what they will bring to the sport in the future, because the future has arrived. That just being among the greats is no longer enough, not for these crowd pleasing hot shoes. They are clearly looking to force the all time greats who still battle with everything they have for each and every racing trophy to pass the torch to this next generation and it appears they are all focused on shaking up the Monster Jam world at Advance Auto Parts Monster Jam World FinalsSM XIV presented by NGK Spark Plugs March 22nd and 23rd at Sam Boyd Stadium in Las Vegas.
To make the case that this new breed has moved to center stage, let’s take a look at the list of winners at the Championship Round Races in stadium events thus far in 2013. Arguably it is Ryan Anderson and Son-uva Digger® leading the charge having won back to back Double Down trophies winning both the racing and freestyle championships in Tampa’s Raymond James Stadium and Orlando’s Citrus Bowl. Other Advance Auto Parts Monster Jam drivers who can boast of having two stadium racing championships in 2013 include Monster Energy’s Damon Bradshaw, not a rookie by any means but his rise in the sport has come in the past half dozen years, and then there is Donald Epidendio in Titan, one of the competitors at last year’s Young Guns Shootout in Las Vegas who has shaken up the big event pecking order with a pair of championships at Angels Stadium in Anaheim. A couple other top level stars who figure to be in the game for decades to come have also won dome or stadium racing brackets this year: namely Adam Anderson in Grave Digger the Legend® at Reliant Stadium in Houston and the 2012 Young Guns Shootout Champion, Bari Musawwir, who raced Spider-ManTM to victory at the Minneapolis Metrodome. I’d make the case that you can also add Linsey Weenk to this group, despite his resume full of wins his is a career still measured in years, not decades. Weenk has taken home the hardware twice as well already in 2013 powering Lucas Oil Crusader®to the racing title in both Houston’s Reliant Stadium on January 12th and at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis last weekend.
Now don’t think that the more veteran talents are just going to hand over that torch without a big time battle. Of drivers with more than a decade of Monster Jam racing experience Jim Creten, who drove Bounty Hunter to a pair of racing triumphs at the Rogers Centre in Toronto, has been able to break through the new breed’s domination on the race tracks this year with those wins on the Maple Leaft Monster Jam® Tour. Two-time World Racing Champion John Seasock took Advance Auto Parts GrinderSM to the racing trophy at the Alamodome in San Antonio and George Balhan took Mohawk Warrior® to the winner’s stage following the racing action at the other San Antonio event. Max-DSM has scored a pair of stadium racing championships so far, but the biggest early surprise during the Max-DSM 10th Anniversary season is that neither of those trophies were won by Tom Meents. The Max-D team’s racing wins were claimed by Neil Elliott in Detroit and Kreg Christensen in Vancouver.
Which leads to another point worth noting when talking about the major strides being made on the race courses this year by the sport’s newer faces: when can you remember a year when we’ve made it through the first month without seeing Dennis Anderson or Meents win a race trophy at a stadium event? Anderson has driven Grave Digger® to a pair of freestyle wins this year, the same number of freestyle trophies that both his sons Adam and Ryan have claimed. But again, if you focus on the race track, the two biggest names in Advance Auto Parts Monster Jam history have yet to take the trip to the winners stage. No one expects that drought to continue for long, but it is extremely noteworthy that the parity we’ve seen evolving in recent years has developed to the point that it can truly be any superstar’s night any time the big trucks roll onto the track, and that’s a trend that is sure to continue.
The ultimate question is will this pattern of fresh faces holding aloft the racing trophies carry though to the battle for the World Racing Championship in Las Vegas? No matter what happens these next two months no one, absolutely no one, will be counting Tom or Dennis out heading into Advance Auto Parts Monster Jam World FinalsSM XIV. The last four World Racing Championships have been won by either Meents in Max-D or Anderson in Grave Digger, and Max-D will be looking to equal the record that only he holds of winning three world racing titles consecutively if he can add overall World Championship number 11 to his storied record book in the biggest racing bracket ever, with 28 Monster Jam trucks competing for this year’s World Racing Championship, four more in the riveting competition than ever before.
Regarding the lack of wins so far this year for Meents, that means nothing when we get to Vegas, You only have to go back as far as 2009 for proof of that. It was just four years ago when Meents was coming off a major disappointment, the mysterious mechanical gremlin that cost him the chance to race in the Championship Round of the 2008 Advance Auto Parts Monster Jam World Finals after he had worked his way through that bracket and earned the Championship Round berth. That letdown seemed to carry into the next year, and the winter of 2009 was a tough one for the Max-D team, and racing wins were rare. Tom’s team looking uncharacteristically beatable until the trek to Las Vegas, where Max-D rolled through the racing bracket and Meents was back on top, another World Championship in the record books.
It is awesome to see the emergence of the young superstars to championship level, and it promises to make this the most wide open racing bracket in the storied history of the sport’s greatest event, and while every superstar in the sport has that same goal, the goal of leaving Las Vegas as the World Racing Champion, they will all head there well aware that the road to the 14th World Racing Championship, one way or the other, almost assuredly will have to go through Max-D and Grave Digger. Whatever success or failure happens between now and then for Tom and Dennis, they will both be ready and motivated when the calendar turns to another March and another battle for the supreme racing prize in Advance Auto Parts Monster Jam.