Grave Digger Undefeated In Houston Race Bracket

By Scott Douglass
Jan 7, 2014

The fans packed into Reliant Stadium in Houston, TX last Saturday for one of the biggest Monster Jam® events in the 30+ year history of the sport in that Texas city and were treated not just to an awesome night of thrills, but to what many referred to as a great preview of what’s to come later this year at Monster Jam World FinalsSM XV presented by NGK Spark Plugs. With a 20-Monster Jam truck race bracket, something normally seen only at previous Monster Jam World Finals, and some of the fastest racers on the planet in competition Dennis Anderson got into a brand new Grave Digger® and dominated the SoCal style course to claim the first stadium championship racing trophy of 2014.

Often when a brand new piece is unveiled it can take the driver and crew some time to get everything just right, sometimes there are some bugs to work out. Anderson has experienced this himself in previous years when some earlier editions of brand new black and green wrecking machines took a while to come into form. But not with this Grave Digger. The 30th truck to bare that legendary name was bad fast and spot on start to finish and the four time World Championship team looked super strong in opening their 2014 path on the Road to Monster Jam World Finals XV.

Before ever rolling on to the track for its debut in racing Dennis was unusually confident. As noted previously he has rolled out new pieces in the past that it took him weeks to really adjust to, but as the massive Party in the Pits wrapped up Saturday afternoon in Houston Anderson said he had a “really good feeling” about how his Grave Digger would perform and his premonition was exactly right. With the crowd standing and roaring for an all team Grave Digger Championship Round Race Anderson powered his new Grave Digger to victory over his son Ryan and Son-uva Digger®, Anderson’s first racing championship at the first Houston event of the year in some three seasons, snapping Linsey Weenk and Lucas Oil Crusader’s streak of back to back championships in racing at this event.

As he accepted the winner’s trophy and the section of the crowd that won free Jack In The Box Monster Tacos for the Grave Digger triumph roared even louder, Anderson got on the microphone to first thank his fans there, then quickly heaped praise on his crew members Daniel Crawford and Tyson Swinhart for the fantastic work they did in preparing the truck. He said he could not have asked for the new truck to be any better and gave his pit crew the credit for the huge victory.

Anderson told me that this new Grave Digger design may be familiar to fans on the outside, but underneath the body lots of new technology went into its creation. Dennis said the team creating the new piece actually adapted some ideas from his sons trucks, both Grave Digger The Legend® and Son-uva Digger, and everyone has seen how successful the Anderson siblings have become in those rides as they posted two of the best winning records in 2013 racing and Adam drove Grave Digger The Legend to the 2013 Monster Jam World Finals Racing Championship. If this new Grave Digger is this fast and if the driver has such a good handle already on the new technology, you have to believe Dennis likes his chances when his team heads to Las Vegas in March to compete in the first ever 32 truck racing bracket at Monster Jam World Finals XV. Between now and then, starting this week in Atlanta, it is going to be worth keeping a very close eye on how Grave Digger holds up throughout the first quarter grind, because the truck was absolutely awesome in its first week on the track.

There were so many incredible moments the fans witnessed in Houston last week but one of the most talked about following the event came in a second round race. Tom Meents and Max-DSM squared off against hometown hero David Smith in King Krunch. King Krunch had a rough trip and was way behind as Max-D headed into the final turn en route to what looked like an easy victory when in the final turn the 11-time Monster Jam World Champion rolled his truck over. Luckily for Meents it was a complete 360 degree rollover and when Max-D landed on its wheels Meents hit the throttle and flew across the finish line for the win. I’ve seen thousands of Monster Jam races in my announcing career but I don’t ever remember seeing a truck rollover before the finish line and still come out of the race the winner. It was a breathtaking moment.

Back to Smith, the Texan made some history of his own in round one, when King Krunch defeated Nicole Johnson and Scooby-DooTM by 9 one-thousandths of a second, the closest race ever recorded by the Monster Jam electronic timing system.

Max-D could not come back for the next round due to damage suffered in the rollover but Crew Chief Brandon Lambert and his team had Max-D back to 100% for freestyle where Meents was awesome and his spectacular high flying performance netted Max-D, the reigning Monster Jam World Finals freestyle champion, the first major stadium freestyle championship of 2014 so the current champ could not ask for a better start on his 2014 Road to the Monster Jam World Finals and a chance to become the first to win back to back world freestyle titles since he himself turned the trick back in 2001 and 2002. 

2014 is off and running big time with a dozen cities already having hosted incredible Monster Jam action in week one and another 10 locales ready for the thrills this coming weekend. Make sure you are getting out to experience the action live because in 2014 we already seeing that Monster Jam truly is “As Big As It Gets!”

Read Past Columns