Maximum Commitment from Team Max-D In 2013
Dec 31, 2013
As the 2013 Monster Jam® season started for the Max-DSM team, we had no idea what we were in for. The team had worked hard to get the trailers and Monster Jam trucks prepared for first quarter. We had been anxiously awaiting the news from the creator of chaos himself, Tom Meents, that we weren’t running the same Maximum Destruction® bodies on the trucks. Instead, the plan was for us to debut two awesome, new Max-D looks. Not only was there a new look, he told us, but it was going to be 3D, spiked, and glowing. We worked feverishly to fit the newly designed bodies on our existing chassis in a short period of time. The team worked overtime to get the new bodies just right for the upcoming plethora of shows. We thought the designs would be perfect for our Monster Jam fans; and let me tell you, it was! Fans all over the world gave us nothing but awesome feedback and love for the new look. Not only was there a new look for 2013, but we were also celebrating the 10th anniversary for Max-D. The talk through shop was very heartfelt and emotional about the 10th anniversary because we all felt lucky to be a part of it, and we didn’t want to let our true Max-D fans down. We all got focused and went to work preparing the Monster Jam trucks for 2013.
There we were - the 2013 season teams were ready and drivers were on a mission to do Maximum Destruction with Max-D. As we went venue-to-venue, it was truly amazing that these fans would come out in the large numbers that we never imagined we would see. Not only did we give it our all every weekend with a “never give up attitude,” we also gave them some very intense backflips with so much pyro it looked like the fourth of July with our special Max-D stunt truck. After being on the road for three very long months with hardly any sleep or family time, it was time to head to the Monster Jam World FinalsSM to repeat our Racing Championship and bring home the Freestyle Championship.
When it came to the Monster Jam World Finals, the mindset of the entire team was to reach four separate goals: win fastest qualifier, win racing, win freestyle, and put on the best encore any fan had ever witnessed. The team was determined and all stayed honed in on those goals leading up to the show.
Team Max-D was determined to be the fastest on the very long, dry track at Sam Boyd Stadium, and it showed as we walked away with the fastest qualifier award on the night of qualifying. As we woke up that very next day, we knew that we had to leave it all on the track or it wouldn’t to be enough to walk away with a win, which showed when we were paired up against the very fast Adam Anderson in Grave Digger The Legend® for the semi-final race. With the slick track, Adam overtook Tom in the turn and knocked us out of racing.
With the racing out of the way and freestyle up next, we had to clear our heads from that loss and focus on freestyle, which wouldn’t be easy knowing that we had a special 10th Anniversary surprise for the Monster Jam fans at the end of the night.
As that beautiful chrome Max-D hit the floor for freestyle, we all knew it was our year to take back that victory, but we would have to wait until the last Monster Jam truck was done to realize that we had just become the 2013 Freestyle Champion. As the team celebrated and the trophy was presented, there were four members of our team that didn’t know the good news; including the man that actually won the freestyle, as he was sitting in his Max-D stunt truck on top of an off-road dump truck, waiting for his queue to begin that little surprise mentioned - the Max-D Encore.
Pyro went off and Neil Elliott, Chuck Werner, and Kreg Christensen, drove 3 pyro-throwing spiked Max-Ds out to the center of the floor and stopped facing a giant container. They all waited for the pyro queue and successfully performed the first-ever simultaneous 3-truck-backflip. With the fans going crazy, and the Max-D crew breathing just a little bit easier, there was one more surprise as the Monster Jam fans caught a glimpse of that huge off-road dump truck hauling Tom Meents’ Max-D stunt truck. Tom announced himself and told the crowd that he was about to attempt the double backflip once again.
As the off-road dump truck dumped off Max-D, you could see camera flashes from a mile away. Tom didn’t waste any time he headed straight to the center of the floor, toward that giant double backflip ramp. He made two fast, intense passes to make sure everything was 100%. He backed up for the final pass, set off the pyro, and hit the ramp with crazy speed, which forced the truck around twice; making him the first driver ever to do a double backflip in a monster truck!
The double has more improvements to be made in order to make a clean rotation, but that’s what makes it an enviable challenge.
At the end of the Monster Jam World Finals, we had succeeded in achieving three of our four goals. We walked away knowing we had done our best, and had left every Monster Jam fan in Sam Boyd Stadium on their feet screaming - the greatest goal of all had been achieved.
Following the Monster Jam World Finals, the teams scrambled to gather enough parts, bodies, and accessories to fully stock three oversea containers for the international tours. For the first time ever, three separate Max-D trucks were loaded into separate, fully stocked containers and shipped off to other countries.
We had the opportunity to be one of the first teams to take Monster Jam to fans in Abu Dhabi. The team was greeted by fans who were excited to see their first live show and see how Maximum Destruction is truly made.
We started our summer tour of shows, including Monster Jam Path of Destruction. Before we left for POD, the news of crew chief Josh Dyche’s dad passing away found the team surrounding him as family, offering him whatever support he needed. But when it came time to head East for the POD tour, Josh was the first one in the rig, with a smile on his face, ready to go wow Monster Jam fans.
That tour would lead us to East Rutherford, NJ, where we would attempt the double backflip again. Before the NJ show, we had the privilege to be interviewed by the Wall Street Journal. It was surreal, as we spend so much time turning wrenches and being grease-covered, the honor of standing in front of Met Life Stadium to be photographed for the WSJ was not lost on us. The truck used for the photos, the stunt truck, was designed for stunts - such as backflips and other crazy stunts- and had been crashed more than any other Monster Jam truck in the fleet. Sitting in front of the stadium, it sure didn’t look like it had taken that much abuse. Thanks to the dedication and hard work of our crew members, that day it looked like a show truck.
During the show at East Rutherford, Neil won freestyle with a crazy, mid-air twist. After freestyle, the time was upon us to attempt the double backflip again. Even though the track surface was level, we fell short. We, as a team, think we need more speed in order to complete the second revolution.
The team continued to do a few shows throughout the summer, but the focus shifted toward the international tours. The international shows allowed Tom to complete the first ever backflip across the pond at the show in Arnhem, The Netherlands.
With the trucks being shipped all over the world, the team’s home lives were a bit stressed. The tragic news that Brandon Lambert’s mother unexpectedly lost her life that caused the team to halt and take stock of what’s important. Brandon opted to only take a week off to help his brother’s work through a situation none of them ever thought they would have to face. But by leaning on their family and network of friends, the young men have persevered.
Wes Cotsamire’s life changed when he left his old regime behind; after spending time dedicated to his country as Marine, he has now devoted himself to the sport and finally moved from Arizona to Paxton. He is now living the dream he first imagined as a young boy.
Mason Knorr, fresh out of high school at just 18 years old, decided he wanted to come play with the big boys on team Max-D. He has not only grown his mechanical knowledge, but has shown that his fabrication skills can hold up to Maximum Destruction.
Mark Cole’s life became that much more challenging when his son was born in January. He is working hard to improve at his job and position himself to support his family and find that work/life balance everyone needs.
This year, Tom finally made his commitment to Darcy legal as the two got married this summer. And on top of all of that, Tom and Chuck Werner are fighting to keep everyone 100% focused at work, while facing their own battles at home, as they each now have licensed, driving daughters.
Late this summer, the dirt crew paid a visit to the Paxton shop and built a Monster Jam practice track facility. This track will give drivers the opportunity to hone their skills right here in Central Illinois. The track features an authentic stadium track alongside an authentic arena track. Not only was the dirt crew out there working non-stop from dawn to dust, members of Team Max-D were there also to help strip down cars and do whatever they could. Tom Meents even spent hours in several pieces of machinery in order to give the awesome dirt crew a helping hand, while also keeping the shop headed in the right direction.
Early this fall, the team packed up and flew to Sydney for the first ever Monster Jam in Australia. Again, the team was met with enthusiastic fans that were ready to see just what, “On a Mission,” really means.
Turning the clock back to April, immediately after the Monster Jam World Finals, the team began to build the ultimate Max-D truck. C-71 was planned and built from the ground up in Paxton with the finish line for the truck being the SEMA show in November. This truck was set to have more Spectra Chrome on it than any other truck in the past. The Max D trucks driven in the shows are so often torn up at the end, the team wanted to use this truck to give our fans the flip side of the coin - a beautiful and meticulously built Monster Jam monster truck. We feel like we did our job. Once the truck was all put together, and we all stopped to admire our hard work, it took our collective breath away.
The truck itself is hard to describe with words. The symbolism it embodies for our team is impossible to define.
While at SEMA, the word throughout the halls was all about this Max-D. We can’t wait to see what the future holds for this awesome machine.
Kreg Christensen spent a lot of time behind the wheel of Max-D creating chaos across the country. Filling the coveted Max-D seat was no easy task. The list of drivers who could develop in the truck - while also pushing it to the edge and bringing it back - made it a difficult choice. The decision was stressful and many long nights went into choosing fresh-faced, up and coming driver, Morgan Kane. The team is excited to get behind Morgan and support him as he begins his own reign of destruction. Josh Dyche will be leading the crew in charge of Morgan’s truck in 2014. Josh has learned the mechanics behind the Max-D trucks quickly, as he started at the bottom and forced his way to the top through his desire to be the best. Morgan’s attitude matches Josh’s drive and the team felt the two were a natural pairing.
Shortly after the SEMA show was over, the 2013 Monster Jam summit awards were held in Chicago for the Monster Jam fleet and drivers to celebrate everyone’s hard work. The many awards taken home by the team were proof that a “never give up” attitude will pave the way to success. The leader of the Max-D team, Tom Meents, took home Driver of The Year with his crew following in their own hardware accumulation: Wes Cotsamire won Rookie of the Year; Josh Dyche won Rising Star; Mark Cole won Hot Look; and new driver, Morgan Kane, took home Rising Star Driver.
After coming back to work from the awards ceremony, the team refocused and went to the Minneapolis Metrodome for the final show in the dome, which also was the final show of the 2013 season. We wanted to give the Max-D fans something special as a “thank you” for all the years of support at the Metrodome, so we packed up and took not one, but two, Max-D Monster Jam trucks. One truck went for Tom to race, and the chrome Max-D went as a tribute to all the great fans. We didn’t bring back any hardware from the show, but we brought back memories of Tom laying it all on the line for the last time at the dome. And, in true Tom Meents fashion, he handed out his helmet to one lucky fan; a memory that will surely last that child’s lifetime.
While each member of the team has their own specialties, everyone pitched in to help with the new Monster Jam Midwest shop expansion in Paxton. We all went above and beyond, working nights and weekends, to spend time at the new facility to get it cleaned and prepped. We are proud to have it open as a hub for activity and available to host our extended Monster Jam family.
The 2013 season was a year-long celebration of a Decade of Destruction, full of firsts and wins for everyone. As we get ready for the 2014 season with three, fresh, brand new teams, the entire Max-D lineup is stacked for success.