History of the Monster Jam World Finals IV
By Monster Jam Media
Feb 27, 2012

World Finals IV, March 22, 2003 – Parity Arrives As Two First Time Champs Are Crowned

Racing Champion – Brian Barthel, Wolverine
Freestyle Champion – Jim Koehler, Avenger

Racing Semifinalists: Wolverine (Barthel), Bounty Hunter (Jimmy Creten), Gunslinger (Scott Hartsock), Blacksmith (Carl Van Horn)

Top 5 Freestyle Scores: Avenger (Koehler) 37, El Toro Loco (Lupe Soza) 36, Blue Thunder (Lyle Hancock) 34, Madusa (Madusa) 32, Black Stallion (Mike Vaters) 30

Sam Boyd Stadium, especially in racing, had been Tom Meents’ personal playground through the first three editions of the World Finals, but that was about to change. In Friday night qualifying Jimmy Creten continued to make his name in Vegas, posting the fastest time in Bounty Hunter, while Meents, his truck now named Maximum Destruction, crashed into the fence entering the chicane and Tom did not post a time, which seeded Meents toward the back of the pack. In round one he would have to match up with Grave Digger, driven this time by Pablo Huffaker while an injured Anderson was working this World Finals in the broadcast booth. Meents was back on track at race time, beating Huffaker and the Digger in round one to extend his record at Sam Boyd Stadium to 13 and 0 in round racing.

That streak would end in round two, when Scott Hartsock became the first driver to beat Meents in Las Vegas, Gunslinger eliminating Maximum Destruction. “How sweet it is” a smiling Hartsock yelled after knocking off Meents, but that was to be the high point of his night. In the semifinals Gunslinger’s motor broke, the truck shutting down on the entrance to Thunder Alley as Brian Barthel drove Wolverine into the finals. In the other semi Creten powered Bounty Hunter to victory over Carl Van Horn in Blacksmith. Knowing we were about to crown a first time champ the pressure was huge, and both Barthel and Creten were so amped up that they missed the turn. It was Barthel who recovered first and Wolverine claimed the World Racing Championship.

Several drivers used this freestyle competition to really step their career forward, none more so than Lupe Soza, who turned the crowd on with an amazing run that grabbed the lead for El Toro Loco with a score of 36, and while that was not good enough for the championship on this night, it was certainly a sign of big things to come in the future for Soza. In the end though it was Jim Koehler’s biggest night ever, and a bit of redemption. In previous years Koehler had turned in some very strong runs only to get inexplicably low scores from the judges, but not this time. Koehler had Avenger on fire from the start, nailing every obstacle on the treacherous course, and then, with a broken shock and sway bar, not to mention a flat rear tire, Koehler closed with the night’s longest set of cyclone style donuts, sticking both of his hands out his windows no less, and Koehler had driven Avenger to the World Freestyle Championship.