Last year marked Jim Koehler’s return to the Rogers Centre after a six year absence and it went spectacular with Koehler winning freestyle on the Sunday.
Now the 2011 Monster Jam Freestyle Champion returns to Toronto in hopes of backing up that win, along with a possible racing win.
“It’s close to home and there’s a lot of good fans up there in Canada,” the Michigan native said. “So it’s really exciting going back.”
For Koehler, coming to Toronto, it has that hometown fan base feel due to being close to him and the fact that Koehler does a lot of shows in Canada.
“We do so many shows that the Canadian fans love Avenger and love Team Scream,” he said. “They open up their arms to us and bring us in. they’re great people and as long as you’re somewhere the fans love ya and appreciate ya, it’s a great thing to be.”
Last year’s show was full of close racing and high competition from one end to the other so there are strong hopes that Monster Jam returns with the same style of track.
“We had some good racing both days – the track was awesome,” he said. “I hope they do the same style of track this year; it was really cool. Freestyle jumps were awesome. The way the track was laid out was pretty wild and it’s close to the same or near to the same, I think we’re really going to do good there.”
While other years they have ran the Chicago style track in Toronto, last year meant to the switch to the So Cal style of track. The Chicago style is a chase style race, with trucks lining up opposite directions on opposite sides and run laps around the track. Meanwhile, the So Cal style they line up side-by-side in the center and each do a circle around their side of the track before meeting in the center around.
“I definately rather run on the So Cal track,” Koehler commented. “To me, it’s a lot more driving, a lot more chances to make a mistake, a lot more chances for the other driver to make a mistake so you can regain ground on them. There’s a lot more action going on, a lot more exciting. Overall, it’s better.
“I’ve been bored of the Chicago style myself. A lot of these guys get in the groove, get pretty good at a Chicago style and now it makes it an interesting twist for everyone else. It throws them into something they’re not really use to and you really got to drive it.”
For Mr. Excitement, this will mark his third Monster Jam tour visit of the season and so far, he is happy with the season.
“The truck has been working pretty well, except for a couple glitz that you gonna expect the first quarter,” he said. “You’re just starting a new Monster Jam season so getting them worked out.”
He started the year in Kentucky, finishing second in the Saturday wheelie competition to Dennis Anderson (Grave Digger) and third in the freestyle competition (Grave Digger won). For the Sunday show, he was one point off of Anderson to win the wheelie competition, got eliminated in the semi-finals in racing by Anderson while scoring 22 points to Anderson’s 24 points in freestyle.
The next date for Koehler was filled with more pressure as it marked a visit to his hometown – Ford Field in Detroit, Michigan. Koehler wouldn’t make it past round two in racing with teammate Chris Bergeron (Brutus) beating him while Koehler scored 27 points in comparison to Neil Elliott’s (Maximum Destruction) 29 points in freestyle.
For the Toronto show, Koehler will once again be battling Elliott for the top spot, as well as Jon Zimmer in Grave Digger and 2012 Monster Jam Freestyle Champion Cam McQueen in Northern Nightmare, to just name the highlights of the star-stuttered field.
“I just need to bump it up a little more, and knock them down,” Koehler said.
While the focus will be on Koehler trying to repeat and McQueen, there is plenty of talk about Tom Meents’ and Maximum Destruction’s Decade of Destruction tour. Max D was debuted 10 years ago and this year marks a year for Toronto fans to celebrate with Neil Elliott.
Koehler admits that he has so many memories of racing against Meents and his team as they’ve been competing for a long time now, dating back to before the Max D days. However, the biggest memory for Koehler stems to Atlanta when he offered some help after Meents ran into trouble during racing action.
“They’re willing to help you with any problems that you have and we do the same right back to them,” Koehler said. “We had a show in Atlanta and Tom had rolled over in racing really bad – I think the cage had hit the dumpster a bit. They weren’t going to let him freestyle unless he welded a bunch of bars in and got it back to safe so I was out there during intermission welding stuff while he was fixing other things that were screwed up.
“Then freestyle came along and Chris Burgeron went out in Brutus and laid down a good run. Then a bunch of other trucks went and then I went out and tied Chris so Chris and I were in the hot seat. Grave Digger came out and ended up flipping early so he doesn’t knock us out. The only left is Tom Meents. The guy we helped fix his truck, comes out and beats us. We’re like ‘We fixed him so he could come out and beat us?’ But you know, it’s a good memory.
“Something you think about and I wouldn’t had wanted it any other way. I’d hate to beat someone stuck on the sidelines; I’d rather beat them after they make their fun run. If they lay something down, then they deserve to win.”