History Of The Monster Jam World Finals II
Monster Jam Media
Mar 11, 2013
World Finals II, March 24, 2001 – The Great Flood Of ’01, and Who In The World Is Jill Canuso?
Racing Champion – Tom Meents, Goldberg
Freestyle Champion – Tom Meents, Goldberg
Racing Semifinalists: Goldberg (Meents), Blue Thunder (Lyle Hancock), Destroyer (Dan Evans), Wolverine (Brian Barthel)
Top 5 Freestyle Scores: Goldberg (Meents) 38, Wrenchhead.com (Jill Canuso) 36, Grave Digger (Dennis Anderson) 36, Avenger (Jim Koehler) 34, Sting (Tony Farrell) 34
If at the end of the night WF 1 ended as many expected with Meents and Anderson holding the trophies, it was WF2 that showed that at this event anything can, and probably will happen. Expect the unexpected, a trend that continues to this day. Not only did Tom Meents defend his World Racing Championship, but this time he added the freestyle title to accomplish what has now become known as the “Double Down”. While those results may not have been a surprise, WF2 provided an incredible series of twists and turns, some of the wildest action and most riveting storylines that we’ve ever seen.
Where to begin? The fans that were in attendance that night or who caught the event live on pay-per-view TV saw the 16 truck field put to the ultimate test, each driver and their equipment stretched to its limits and beyond. Certainly no one will forget the second round race between Pablo Huffaker in Blacksmith and Lyle Hancock in Blue Thunder. Huffaker won the race but lost control of his Willys after the finish line, and Blacksmith barrel rolled to the end of the stadium, landing up on the wall protection.
The most unusual race bracket in the history of the finals saw the race course cut in half for the final two rounds after a water main was damaged near the right lane, totally flooding the chicane area in that lane. No driver would have had a chance to win having to race through the flooded out lane, so officials moved the starting lines past the flooded area, inside of Sam Boyd Stadium. The freak occurrence eliminated what had been a big advantage for fast qualifier Brian Barthel in Wolverine, whose strong starts and mastery of the chicane saw him build huge leads early in both his first and second round victories. Not only was the course shortened, but since the starting lights were outside the stadium on the original starting line, the officials, adapting on the fly, had to use a flagman to start the semifinal and championship races. In the first semi Barthel never saw the green flag wave until Hancock was all the way into the turn for the finish line. Competition Director Keith Speller and his team, realizing that Barthel could not see the flag because of the unusual cab design of the Wolverine took the unusual step of ordering that the result of that race be thrown out and the first semifinal was rerun. Barthel saw the green flag when they did it again, but Wolverine was not as strong on the shorter course and Blue Thunder won fair and square to put Hancock into the finals against Meents. All the drama on the other side of the bracket played right into Meents’ hand and the Goldberg truck won the World Racing Championship for the second straight year.
Meents and Anderson carried their rivalry into freestyle. While Tom and Dennis have built a mutual respect to complement the intensity of their rivalry in recent years, back in the first couple of years of this millennium the rivalry was often bitter. Meents actually called Anderson “washed up” heading into WF2, and Anderson said his main goal that night was to “knock Tom down a notch or two and bring him back to reality”. Before the big two hit the track all anyone could talk about was the performance turned in by rookie Jill Canuso, an unknown to most, who rocked the house in the Wrecnhead.com truck and ended it with a huge leap that destroyed the entire rear half of the truck as she planted it on the tail. It was quite a sight to see the young lady who was less than 5 feet tall standing as big as any driver that night. Her score of 36 was second only to Meents’ winning total.
WF2 was the genesis of two other elements that remain today: total disregard for any other trucks left on the course during freestyle, and the now famous World Finals encore. The truck carnage began when Huffaker hopped into the Ragin’ Steel truck that was in the pits but not scheduled to run. Remember, he destroyed his Blacksmith in racing. Pablo wrapped up his freestyle by leaving Ragin’ Steel parked on top of the Sting Corvette that was left in the corner of the track after Tony Farrell had freestyled it and was unable to get back to his pits after the run.
Anderson’s freestyle lasted only a minute, and when he flipped his Grave Digger with :57 seconds of the two minute time period left the World Championship was secure for Meents, but Dennis was not done. Anderson had his team bring out another Grave Digger and he gave the fans a freestyle encore. When he flipped that piece (Grave Digger #7 to be exact) he called for Grave Digger XII, and gave the fans even more. Not to be outdone, Meents brought out his back-up Goldberg and flew onto the course, smashing into Grave Digger XII. This battle Digger won, as the Goldberg truck shot straight up in the air and landed on the roof. So much for the pre-event animosity – the night ended with Anderson and Meents embracing on the track, enjoying a lengthy standing ovation.