History of the Monster Jam World Finals III
By Monster Jam Media
Feb 24, 2012


World Finals III, March 23, 2002 – Meet The New Champ: Same As The Old Champ  

Racing Champion – Tom Meents, Team Meents
Freestyle Champion – Tom Meents, Team Meents


Racing Semifinalists: Team Meents (Meents), Bounty Hunter (Jimmy Creten), Grave Digger (Dennis Anderson), Blacksmith (Pablo Huffaker)


Top 5 Freestyle Scores: Team Meents (Meents) 37, Grave Digger (Anderson) 36, Blacksmith (Pablo Huffaker) 35, Blue Thunder (Lyle Hancock) 35, Black Stallion (Mike Vaters) 30, Wolverine (Brian Barthel) 30  

The name on the side of the truck changed from “Goldberg” to “Meents”, but there was no change behind the wheel, and Tom Meents made it back-to-back “Double Down” championships with another sweep to claim five of the first six World Championship trophies. While Meents maintained his dominance WF3 was also the beginning of the emergence of Bounty Hunter and Jimmy Creten as a championship threat. Creten had begun making his name on the Monster Jam circuit in 2003, and actually had beaten Meents in the Minneapolis finals, the final tune-up before Las Vegas. Actually racing in ’03 was a bit of a struggle for Meents. Not only did Creten beat him in Minny, but Dennis Anderson had his number most of the year as Grave Digger dominated the head-to-head match-ups with Team Meents. So for Tom, this trip to Vegas was not only about defending his titles, but at least in racing, about vindication. Meents eliminated Anderson in the semifinals, then Team Meents beat Bounty Hunter for Tom’s third straight World Racing Championship. 

Meents then defended his freestyle title, but maybe the biggest “Wow” moment came early when Scott Hartsock got a huge head of steam built up heading for a huge bus stack in the center of the floor, and he flew the Gunslinger some 40 feet high in the air and launched the awesome Ford so far out that he sailed well past the landing ramp, flat landing at the other end of the stadium. After that leap the truck could not continue. Filling only half the time Gunslinger’s score was only a 20, but every fan who saw the event would not soon forget Gunslinger’s leap. 

My most vivid memory from WF3 came at the end of Blacksmith’s run. My TNN and Pay-Per-View broadcast partner, Mike Hogewood, and I were thrilled to move out of the press box, where we had called the first two finals from, to our new set underneath the Sam Boyd Stadium scoreboard. Huffaker decided to come say “Hi” to us, I guess, parking his machine on the wall protection right in front of us at the end of Blacksmith’s freestyle to leave us with another wild memory. That run gave Huffaker the lead with 35 points. Lyle Hancock then equaled Huffaker’s score with an awesome run in Blue Thunder that finished with him going up the back side of the big bus obstacle and flipping over backwards. This proved to be a night where each competitor seemed to raise the bar higher than the previous driver did, and Dennis Anderson responded next. His incredible Grave Digger freestyle was highlighted by a rollover where he pirouetted the truck on its nose, landed on all four tires, and fired it back up, but he rolled the truck again with a full :30 left on the clock. The score of 36 gave Grave Digger the lead but left room at the top for Meents, and Tom took full advantage. It was a night that made me glad I’m not a judge. Like Anderson, and so many others that night, Meents was phenomenal, and the fact that he filled the entire clock before flipping his machine in a wild sideways hit gave him that one additional point, a total of 37, and yet another championship trophy.