Bari Musawwir Las Vegas Adventures
Bari "BAM" Musawwir
Apr 11, 2011
If you happened to catch my last blog from Montgomery Alabama, I mentioned that the show at the Garrett Arena was going to be my last weekend in the truck until the International Tour in Europe. I was initially scheduled to pilot the Crazy Bull at the Mathew Knight Center the following weekend in Eugene Oregon. Well, in the week prior to the Montgomery show, I received a call from the Monster Jam corporate office telling me they were going to pull me out of my last show, in order to send me to the 12th annual Advance Auto Parts Monster Jam World Finals in Las Vegas, Nevada. This was a pretty exciting phone call and I immediately called my fiancé and family to tell them the good news. At the same time I knew I would be apart from my teammates for our last event of the season, so I wanted to tell them in person once I got to Montgomery. I started looking for flights for my fiancé and step daughter to come out to Vegas to enjoy the greatest event known to the Monster Truck World. I was relieved once I found some flights for them with only a week and a half left to spare.
I left for Las Vegas on Wednesday March 23rd and much to my surprise, I ended up on the same connecting flight with World renowned Monster Jam announcer Scott Douglass when we changed planes in Memphis Tennessee. Once we landed, 2 time Racing World Champion John Seasock met up with me at the airport and we made our way to Sam Boyd Stadium. This was an ironic reunion because John and I were actually roommates at Imperial Palace the year that he won his first championship. Once we arrived at the stadium, it was great to see the familiar faces of peers that I had worked with throughout the season. My job this weekend was to work with the safety crew to help retrieve trucks off of the track after they had rolled over. Fellow rookies, Todd Leduc and Scott Buetow were also recruited to help out along side long time veterans of the sport Mike Wales, and Gene Patterson. We practiced retrieving a rolled over truck a few times to make sure we had the concept down and called it a day.
Thursday was the first day of practice as well as the day for the VIP driving experience for some of the great supporters and sponsors of Advance Auto Parts Monster Jam. I was fortunate enough to be called on to help out during this great opportunity for some special people to get behind the wheel of these 10,000 pound beasts. My job was to instruct some of the eager new drivers with learning the most important aspects of operating the truck from Tech Official hand signals to the safe operation and technique of starting, stopping and maneuvering some of Monster Jams most popular Monster Trucks. I got to give some great advice and instructions to some great people that had never been behind the wheel of anything with a high horse power engine, not to mention a monster truck! I also got to interact with some very special kids and families from the Make a Wish Foundation.
After the great day at the VIP Driving Experience it was time to head to the track where competitors would take their first trips down the World Finals track for the first time this year. Gene, Scott and I took our positions near the chicane of the right lane as practice began. It was certainly an awesome vantage point to see 24 trucks blow by you during the practice of introductions. I soon found out this job would be a work out as a few trucks rolled over in the tight turn during racing practice. This would be where we come into play. Either Scott or myself would be sent to run down onto the show floor to make sure the truck had a driver present in case it needed to be towed or driven back to the pits. Once practice concluded it was clear that the talented drivers competing this year were ready to attack the track for qualifying the next day following the Double Down Party in the Pits.
Speaking of the Double Down Party, Friday was here before we knew it and it was time for me to go hang out with my buddy Mark McDonald and his El Toro Loco at the 1st day of the Party in the Pits so we could meet all the great double down fans in attendance. The blustering Las Vegas winds were in full effect during the first part of the day so we decided to do away with the tent canopy so it wouldn’t blow away. It was pretty cool not only being able to sign autographs alongside Mark who is a very smooth consistent racer and high flying freestyler, but also meeting all of the great fans that travel from all over the world to be a part of this special event. I recognized some fans that came out to some of the previous events I was at earlier in the season from Utah, and Denver! I was truly amazed as we met fans from as far away as Australia and Chile also.
Once the Double Down Party came to a close it was time for the action to heat up on the track! Each participant got 2 practice passes and then a 3rd and final qualifying pass that would be used to form the pairings for the 12th Annual Monster Jam World Finals! As we took our spots back at the chicane of the right lane we could feel the double down crowd buzzing with anticipation to see the first pair of trucks fly down the track! When qualifying got underway it was clear that both lanes seemed pretty equal as good passes came out of both lanes, but it would be the Icon Dennis Anderson and the Legendary Grave Digger that would claim the top spot with a blistering 15.69 second pass. Dennis would be followed by his archrival on the track, Tom Meents and Maximum Destruction with a 15.70. Once qualifying concluded it was clear that Tom and Dennis are still at the top of their game and ready to continue to claim titles for years to come.
The day that the entire Monster Truck community waits for each year was finally upon us and it was time to get the 2nd Party in the Pits going around 11am! The wind was back in full force but so were the awesome Monster Jam fans! Mark and I had another great day with the fans during the biggest pit party of the year. We had such a blast it seemed like the time went by so fast and before we knew it; it was time for the Annual Monster Jam Truck Parade! As I climbed on top of Mark’s brand new El Toro Loco I could see the crowd lined up all the way down the fence line 5 and 6 people deep on both sides! Once we started rolling we grabbed a hold of a horn and saluted the crowd El Toro Loco Style!
After the awesome monster truck parade it was finally time to go racing! With 24 of the best trucks and racers present it would be anyone’s title to take. Right off the bat it was evident that Tom Meents and his team came with there A game and were on a path to claim an unprecedented 9th Monster Jam World Championship. Tom’s experience and incredible driving talent prevailed in the finals, taking out Jimmy Creten and the Bounty Hunter in a great race! As the crowed was buzzing after Tom accepted his 2011 Racing World Championship trophy it was soon time to claim a Freestyle Champion. Cam McQueen in Nitro Circus came out and laid down a brilliant run complete with huge air, and a back flip that shocked the crowd and brought everyone to there feet! Cam sat in the hot seat until Jim Kohler and the beautiful Candy Apple Red Avenger tied his score with a 32 of his own. In the end the double tie breaking win went to Jim Kohler and Avenger. This was truly an amazing night of high flying Monster Jam action and I got to witness it from a great vantage point. I even got to drive off a few of the trucks after the drivers went up to celebrate with the greatest fans in the world!
Once the new World Champions were crown and the dust had settled, everyone got ready for the classic event known as the Monster Jam Awards Banquet on Sunday evening. This is definitely a star studdedevent when your referring to the Monster Jam world. This event is a great culmination to all the blood, sweat and tears that goes into putting a Monster Jam season together. Everyone from the employees in the office, to the Dirt and Tech Crews, the best sponsors, the drivers and technicians and of course our family's make this night one you will never forget. I ended up getting nominated for Arena Wheelie of the year which was won by Chad Fortune and Superman! With this being one of the biggest Rookie classes in Monster Jam history I was wondering who would be this year’s Rookie of the Year. Once the nominees were all named, I looked on as the hilarious Frank Kremel stepped to the Mic and called my name! I was extactic to hear that I won such a prestigious award! I got up to go accept my award and say a few words. I had to thank my long time friend Scott Hartsock with the GunSlinger Racing team who took me under his wing some 8 years ago. Scott Introduced me to a lot of key people in this industry and taught me a lot about this great motorsport. I also had to thank Dennis Anderson who gave us Radio Controlled Monster Truck racers a place to hold such a great event where I was discovered by Bill Easterly Sr. some four and a half years ago. To everyone who had a decision in giving me the opportunity to not only test a truck in the field but also giving me the chance to live out a childhood dream by making it possible for me to climb behind the wheel of a monster truck professionally I thank you! I am still and will always be a huge fan of monster trucks and I have to thank all of the veterans of the sport that came before me that paved the way for someone like me to come into the sport and just focus on driving and pleasing our great fans. I could not have achieved this award on my own and I owe a lot to my crew Travis Howard, Scott Bennett,and Joshua Dyche for all the hard work and dedication they displayed all season. And last but certainly not least I have to thank my family for always supporting my dreams and encouraging me to never let go of them! With the amount of talent that came into the sport at one time, Monster Jam awarded not only me but also Nick Owens with Iron Outlaw a crown Rookie of the year award as well. I had the pleasure to race with Nick quite a bit this season and he is truly a very talented driver and great for the sport.
Fellow Rookie Scott Buetow and I! Scott won the wow factor of the year award!
Co Rookies of the Year Nick Owens and I
I look forward to starting the international tour this spring in Europe! This year’s trip to Las Vegas was truly special and now I know why Monster Jam called me and said, “hey why don’t you come to Vegas instead this week”! WOW I could not have dreamed this season any better than how it turned out. Thanks to all you great fans who read my blogs and I’ll be in touch soon from across the pond! Until then Take Care
2011 Monster Jam Rookie of the Year