From heavy breakage, to thrilling saves, to rollovers, the Saturday freestyle portion of the Rogers Centre event delivered for fans. In the end, it was Neil Elliott taking the win in Maximum Destruction to kick off the Maple Leaf Monster Jam tour.
Jim Tracy kicked off Freestyle action in Higher Education, getting some considerable height over some obstacles in his School bus. He would get credited with 16 points.
Lloyd Twitchell was next to go in Krazy Train – except he’d bring out a naked train. Twitchell went into one of the corners a little too hot during racing action, resulting in a complete roll-over that ripped off the body. Still, Twitchell would put on a solid run and kept it going till heavy smoke began to pour out the rear end with 23 seconds left on the clock. He’d be credited with nine points.
Ontario native Scott Lillycoat would bring out Dragon’s Breath, looking to breath fire on Tracy’s score and cook it. He cooked up some action, including some solid air, though would come off the one jump and crash into the berm of another, resulting in breaking the right front tire off and done with 39 seconds left on the clock. Still, he’d be credited with 16 points and currently hold the top spot, tied with Tracy.
Running in only his second show ever, Cory Rummel brought his dog out – Spike – and took it up another notch, getting even higher than Lillycoat did. He’d make it into bonus time, though be cut off 10 seconds early due to huge smoke trailing his machine. Though for his efforts, he’d take the lead with a score of 19.
“It’s been a wild opportunity to get to drive and can’t wait to get after it some more,” he said after his run.
Rummel was followed by his Team Scream Racing teammate Steve Koehler. Koehler went out with style, hitting obstacles hard and getting some solid air, while performing two stunning wheelies. The first wheelie was across the floor, while the second wheelie was inside the semi-loop that they built on the track. Koehler’s run came to an abrupt end, though, as he would roll over in bonus time off the edge of a jump. The World Finals Championship winning crew chief performed stellar enough to earn 20 regulation points and a bonus point to take over the lead with 21 points.
The Team Scream Racing theme continued as Brad Allen brought out their third truck – Mega Bite. Allen put in a solid performance, as well. He got some solid air throughout his entire run and did a set of donuts on the way to scoring a total of 16 points.
Taryn Laskey then let her Monster Mutt Dalmatian out of the dog pound, performing her own set of stellar tricks. She stood the ears high in the air with some good height, as well as made the dog dizzy in a set of donuts, on the way to scoring a solid 22 points and tying Koehler.
Trey Myers looked to have the same success in Iron Warrior, though just didn’t reach the heights that Koehler and Laskey did. He was done with 15 seconds left, as well, due to a flat tire. As a result, he only scored 12 points.
Chuck Werner came out looking to bulldoze all the obstacles with El Toro Loco, though saw his run cut short only 16 seconds in due to a nitrous bottle not properly being disconnected after filling the shocks. He would get a score of six points.
Bob Robbins followed Werner and hit the same heights that driver had hit before him – resulting in a score of 22 points to tie Laskey and Koehler.
Toronto’s winningest driver Rod Schmidt brought his dog – the Monster Mutt Rottweiler – as he looked to add to his collection. There was no doubt that he impressed the crowd as he was able to hit new heights, while completing a spectacular save. The Rott came down hard off of a jump and looked to be going down on its side, but Schmidt woke him back up with a shot to the gas pedal and had him on four wheels. The impact, though, caused suspension damage and resulted in the end of the run. He would score 23 points to take the lead.
However, the hits kept coming as Jim Koehler brought his ’57 Chevy out – Avenger. Koehler displayed why he is a two-time Freestyle Champion, soaring to high heights, equal or greater to Schmidt, while performing a solid save as well after the truck got up on two wheels off of one of the smaller obstacles. Koehler would get 24 points from the judges to take the lead from Schmidt.
“He’s an awesome little brother, taking it out there and rocking it out for Team Scream,” Jim spoke of his little brother Steve. “Brad and Cory are rocking out for Team Scream. We’re all rocking it out because we love you, Canada!”
Chad Tingler would look to try to build on the excitement in Grave Digger, though saw his run come to a very short end when he rolled it off of the first jump he made. As a result, he only scored 14 points.
Knowing the stakes were high, Cam McQueen brought Northern Nightmare out, looking to keep raising the bar. He did just that as he went for high height, while pulling off a set of donuts. If you add in a nice safe off the small van stack, it had the fans on their feet. McQueen didn’t finish the run as he wished due to rolling the truck over off a van stack.
“He ran good and I knew I was off this seat,” Jim Koehler commented and he was exactly right as McQueen would take the lead with 25 points.
“Late in the order, you can throw it out there and I had the save there,” McQueen talked about his run. “I was going for another when my foot slipped off the gas pedal.”
Neil Elliott had the tough draw of following McQueen’s stellar run, but that didn’t faze the veteran Maximum Destruction driver. Elliott aired the truck out high above the crowd in Rogers Centre, did some impressive wheelies – including standing the truck straight up on one of the small cars – and had a stellar save of his own. With the performance that kept the crowd at its feet, Elliott earned 27 points to take over the lead.
After winning racing, Ryan Anderson was looking for the Double Down trophy in Son UVA Digger. He started out the run solid with some good air, though broke something in the front end steering early on, which hinded the rest of his run. As a result, he only scored 14 points.
With the event complete, Elliott was crowned the winner and brought home the Freestyle trophy for Maximum Destruction.
“I love Toronto – met a lot of good fans throughout the day and saw lots of Max D merch,” Elliott said. “I’m having a good time.”
Can Elliott go back-to-back? Or will Ryan Anderson, Jim Koehler, Cam McQueen - or someone else take honors?
The Sunday show kicks off at 2pm EST with tickets still available through http://www.ticketmaster.ca. With Pizza Pizza Kids Tickets only $15, it’s a must for the whole family.
All photos from the event can be seen at http://www.facebook.com/ashleymccubbin.media.
For more information on the Maple Leaf Monster Jam tour, check out http://www.monsterjamcanada.ca.