MJ: Team Grave Digger Tops Saturday Night Monster Jam Action at Rogers Centre

Photo Credit: Ashley McCubbin

With 16 of the best drivers and trucks put together, Monster Jam fans at the Rogers Centre in Toronto, Ontario were treated to a show. In the end, three familiar faces took home victories.

The night would start off with rocket racing, which is a first for Canadian fans. These dune buggy style automobiles are built to look like their big brother monster trucks, and promise to add to the show in coming years. The fans would be treated to a great debut, with Ryan Anderson picking up the victory behind the wheel of Son-UVA Digger ahead of Carl Van Horn and Grave Digger.

The show would then continue with racing qualifying, with each of the 16 trying to make the top half to be part of the bracket racing action. Trent Montgomery behind the wheel of Bounty Hunter impressed many, posting the quickest time at 23.8 seconds. Montgomery entered the weekend as a dark horse choice for the win, given what he has been able to do thus far in his young career.

The positive momentum carried into the bracket action, as Montgomery picked up the win in the first round of quarter final action. Unfortunately, that round didn’t go as Matt Cody in Black Stallion wanted as he’d take the corner too tightly, going for a light roll over.

Canadian Scott Liddycoat would then impress the fans, taking the win behind the wheel of Dragon as Nicole Johnson seemed to cut the corner too tight behind the wheel of Scooby Doo. It was then discovered that Johnson had her problems due to the remote shut off being hit by officials by accident. As a result, the race would get rerun. Liddycoat would come out on top once again, scoring the win by 0.2 seconds.

Running his new truck on Canadian soil for the first time, Chad Tingler picked up the round three quarter final win behind the wheel of Alien Invasion. It was an easy win for the veteran as Anderson missed the ramp, catching the dirt mountain.

The quarter finals would then finish off with Van Horn beating Cory Rummel in Rage. Rage was smoking near the end of his run, though, and required a toe off the surface. It was discovered following the run that he had a motor issue that blew the oil pan right off, ending his night early. It is unclear at this time whether the team can make repairs ahead of the Sunday show.

To break up the racing action, there would be a donut competition for those that did not qualify as part of the top-eight in racing. Brian Maes would kick things off behind the wheel of Iron Outlaw with a couple of donuts for a score of 19. The next pair of trucks would perform a couple each, but not enough to beat Maes as Dave Radzierez scored 15 behind the wheel of Wrecking Crew, while Cody scored 17 points. Unfortunately, Tim Mente didn’t have the performance that he wanted behind the wheel of Storm Damage, making wide circles rather than donuts for a score of six due to dragging an extension cord with him. Steven Thompson was scheduled to go next behind the wheel of Hurricane Force, but was unable to as the team was in the process of replacing a rear axle following issues during qualifying.

The final four trucks to go would all score in the 20s, with solid performances all around. Jim Tracy kicked off with a 22 behind the wheel of Higher Education, with Cam McQueen then topping that with a 27 behind the wheel of Northern Nightmare. Rod Schmidt and Monster Mutt Rottweiler would be the talk of the night, though, as he was able to get some good cyclone action and got the truck up on two wheels, bringing it back down easily for a score of 32. Sean Duhon would be the last truck to go, and did a couple of donuts, scoring a 25. As a result, it’d be Rod Schmidt taking home the victory for his 12th Toronto Monster Jam win, following suit with the previous four in racing, and seven in freestyle.

“That dog likes to chase its tail,” Schmidt commented. “Hats off to these guys for working hard. And the fans, we love the fans.”

RELATED: See PHOTOS from MONSTER JAM SATURDAY JANUARY 16TH DONUT ACTION by CLICKING HERE

Returning back to racing action, Montgomery kept the good times rolling, winning the first semi-final match-up against Liddycoat. Van Horn would then win the second semi-final match-up ahead of Tingler.

The final match would then see Montgomery and Van Horn face up against each other. Carl Van Horn would have a clean run to take the victory behind the wheel of Grave Digger, while Montgomery would take the turn too wide and spin. For CVH, it marks his fifth victory in Toronto, and his third racing victory. Notably, CVH has only made two previous appearances in Toronto – 2005 – winning racing and freestyle in both the Saturday and Sunday show.

With racing in the books, it’d be time for the always entertaining freestyle competition that the fans had certainly come to see.

RELATED: See PHOTOS from MONSTER JAM SATURDAY JANUARY 16TH RACING ACTION by CLICKING HERE

For the first time in Canada, everybody would witness the rockets freestyle in pairs. Liddycoat and Schmidt kicked off, hitting the obstacles across the floor for a score of 21. It wouldn’t be enough for the win, as Anderson and Van Horn took things to the next level, especially Anderson as he was coming off of each obstacle every which way sideways. The pair would score 27 points as a result to become the first rocket freestyle winners.

RELATED: See PHOTOS from MONSTER JAM SATURDAY JANUARY 16TH ROCKET FREESTYLE ACTION by CLICKING HERE

With the rockets done, the trucks would be up next to freestyle. Unfortunately, Tim Meente was unable to freestyle in Storm Damage as a result of a fuel pick-up issue. Notably, his teammate Steven Thompson in Hurricane Force was also unable to freestyle due to mechanical issues.

Jim Tracy would kick things off behind the wheel of Higher Education, getting the “cool bus” in the air a little across the floor, while filling the full clock and bonus time. He would score a total of 22 out of a possible 40 points for his effort.

Brian Meas would follow suit in Iron Outlaw, and was able to get a little more air than Tracy across the floor, but would break with 16 seconds left on the clock. As a result, he would score 22 points as well.

Dave Radzierez would not get to freestyle Wrecking Crew as he wanted, making a couple rounds around the floor before stopping as a result of a mechanical issue in the rear-end causing heavy leakage. He would be credited with 11 points.

Sean Duhon would get things back on track behind the wheel of Zombie, putting in a solid performance with some nice air and a nice wheelie across the floor for a score of 26.

Rod Schmidt would kick it up a notch behind the wheel of Monster Mutt Rottweiler, scoring a 27 after getting some more air than Zombie and including a couple killer cyclones at either end of the floor.

Matt Cody would have a solid run behind the wheel of Black Stallion, attacking some of the jumps with decent air for a score of 23.

Scott Liddycoat started off awesome behind the wheel of Dragon, with three very high jumps across the floor for the highest air thus far in the night. However, those high air jumps produced some hard landings, resulting in rear steer issues with 33 seconds left on the clock. He would score 24 points.

Chad Tingler would give Alien Invasion a good Canadian debut with a solid air across the floor for a solid score of 26.

Competing on her birthday, Nicole Johnson would have a great run behind the wheel of Scooby Doo. She would get some great air across the whole floor, and managed to stand the truck on its nose off of a jump, and bring it back down to its wheel with ease. Compared to the run that she gave Toronto fans two years ago, she has certainly grown as a driver in a short amount of time.

Trent Montgomery would start off strong behind the wheel of Bounty Hunter, with some good air and a nice cross floor wheelie. However, he would have his run cut short as he would break a sway bar with 23 seconds left on the clock. He would get a score of 28.

Ryan Anderson (main photo) was next up on the floor, and he proved right away why he is one of the top drivers on the tour. He would get some of the biggest air that fans had seen all night, crossing jumps at all different directions and getting the air with ease. With about 30 second left, he would have a rear tire go flat, but didn’t let it slow him down as he continued to get air, and cause damage to the dirt mounds across the floor. For his efforts, he was awarded with a score of 37 to take the lead.

Carl Van Horn would be up next behind the wheel of Grave Digger, searching for the double down. He would get a pair of big jumps in, getting the same type of air as witnessed by Anderson, before landing nose first in a dirt mound to cut his run short with 60 seconds left on the clock. He was awarded 27 points.

Photo Credit: Keaton Bamford

The last truck to go was the pride of Canada known as Northern Nightmare driven by Cam McQueen. McQueen came out of the gate top-notch, flying over top of the parked Grave Digger truck and the entire floor before landing with ease. He would then come back across to make his next move, when he would land awkwardly on the table top, resulting in a breakage and early end to his run with 66 seconds on the clock. He would score 26 points for his effort.

As a result, it’d be Ryan Anderson picking up his third Toronto victory, after winning Saturday racing and Sunday freestyle in his only previous Toronto appearance in 2014.

“You guys have supported my dad and Grave Digger for these years,” Anderson said. “It drives me harder and harder. That’s why this truck is brand new to keep pushing it.”

RELATED: See PHOTOS from MONSTER JAM SATURDAY JANUARY 16TH FREESTYLE ACTION by CLICKING HERE

The trucks and rockets will be back in action on Sunday at the Rogers Centre looking to put on yet another show stopper performance. Despite all the damage done on Saturday night, all of the trucks should be back in contention once again with the teams working through the night on repairs.

If you haven’t got your tickets yet, there is still time to do so before the show.

 

Ticket prices start at $20 for adults and $15 for Kids tickets for children 12 and under. Pit Party Passes are available for purchase for $10. Tickets and Pit Passes are available at the Rogers Centre Box Office, all Ticketmaster outlets, online at www.ticketmaster.ca, and at (855) 985-5000. The Pit Party will be held from 10:30am to 12pm on Sunday, January 17. The pre-show pit party gives fans the chance to see the massive Monster Jam trucks up close, meet drivers, take pictures and get autographs. To access the Pit Party, event ticket and Pit Party Pass must be presented upon entry.

 

For more information, visit www.monsterjamcanada.ca.

About Ashley McCubbin 3102 Articles
Joining OnPitRoad.com mid-2013 season, Ashley McCubbin is now the Managing Editor and contributes to each racing division as needed. Since studying journalism at the University of Guelph-Humber, Ashley has published articles on a couple of different websites, while serving as a public relations representative for different short track teams. Born in North York, Ontario, Ashley currently lives in Bradford, Ontario and spends her weekend at the local short tracks in the area. She has spent her entire life at the short track level, falling in love with the sport at the age of five. Beyond her love of short track racing, she also has grown an interest for both NASCAR and the IndyCar Racing Series. She also enjoys taking photos and working on websites, while playing a couple rounds of Candy Crush afterwards.