For over three decades, the monster truck industry has competed in Minneapolis inside the infamous Metrodome, the home of the Minnesota Vikings. Many moments in monster truck history, and even the rich history of tractor pulling has made stops at this building.
It's seen Bigfoot and Bearfoot collide in making corners to win races, and Allen Gaines take his Orange Blossom Special pickup the entire length of the floor on the rear tires pulling the sled.
Monster Jam itself has experienced great moments in this building, seeing the emergence of many of it's current stars, and the debut of some of it's more popular teams.
On Saturday night, all that rich history would have one final chapter wrote. After the Minnesota Vikings finish out their 2013 season, the HHH Metrodome will be torn down as a brand new facility is being built that will be ready for the 2016 season, meaning that for two years there will be no 1500-horsepower engines roaring to life, no trophies being handed out, and no sold-out crowds cheering on their heroes.
Monster Jam made sure the final event was one everyone would remember, as the big guns were in attendance. All three Andersons were there with their Diggers, Tom Meents in the spiked Max-D for the final event of the Decade of Destruction tour, plus four former world champions.
It would be a night fans wouldn't forget on the Chicago-style course.
The night started with qualifying, where it saw Scott Buetow end up on his roof against the wall, next to Linsey Weenk's Lucas Oil Crusader. But the guy that had started the night with the hot foot was Ryan Anderson. His Son-Uva Digger Willy's blistered the track with a time under 19 seconds, taking the pole position to start the racing bracket.
He would continue his march through the field, reaching the final round by defeating Hot Wheels, then Chad Fortune in Captain America, and then Weenk in the Crusader.
On the opposite side of the bracket, the truck that was working hard to get another major stadium win was 2009 world freestyle champion, Damon Bradshaw. His Monster Energy Cadillac was rolling through the competition. He first took out JP in El Diablo, the final night that his truck would run the classic Chevrolet body, then in a big surprise Bradshaw took out Max-D in the second round. To reach the finals, he would then defeat the reigning world racing champion, Adam Anderson in The Legend.
It would be a tight battle in the final round, as both the younger Anderson and Bradshaw were tuned in and ready to attack. At the light, Son-Uva Digger got the early jump, hitting the first corner with a slight lead. Bradshaw pulled even on the second jump, but got a little high-sided heading into the final corner.
At the final jump, both drivers were crossed up, but replays showed that it was Anderson crossing the line first, as he proceeded to make his rounds thanking the fans, or at least a quarter of them. As he was getting ready to roar to his victory lap, suddenly white smoke began coming out the back of the truck, and soon he slowed up as it suddenly engulfed the entire back half of his machine.
When he got out to accept the winner's trophy, the loader came out to push him to the pits. Turns out, his engine had seen it's last ride, as there were parts that came out the bottom of the engine. On this night, he would not go after his third-straight freestyle win, nor a double down, as the blown motor ended Son-Uva Digger's night.
Track crews then moved out more obstacles, and cleared the floor after the trailer races, as now it was time for freestyle.
The pace was set early by John Seasock, who was making his official return to the truck he won two racing championships in back in 2007 and 2008, Batman. More solid runs would follow, but Buetow would take the early lead with a 23 from the judges thanks to a pair of backflips, one of which saw him over-rotate and land on the roof.
The line-up would continue to go, with many big names not being able to fill the clock. Then, out came the Legend. By far the racing champion of 2013 was looking to uphold the Digger name, even if it was down to just two Andersons. He would roll out and get major air on every hit, keep the truck going into bonus time, and finally nail his first backflip in competition. Young Adam would take the lead with a 26, with still a few heavy hitters to come.
But all would have problems. Lupe Soza was making his final voyage in the Advance Auto Parts Grinder, the truck he debuted in this very building back in 2009, but would go over early while performing his monster tail-whip.
Up next would be the lead Anderson, Dennis, and Grave Digger. But, after two hits, the truck suffered a broken tie-rod, and then would roll early, only scoring a 12. In recent years, the Metrodome has not been kind to Anderson, dating back to 2005 when he slid into the wall after just nine seconds into his run, and track crews refused to let him refire and run.
Last year was his biggest blowup, as an electrical problem nearly made him miss qualifying, and when it came back before his race, officials declared he was out, rather than dropping his race to the bottom of the bracket and letting the crew fix the problem. He would then deliver his own "pipe bomb" when cameras and a microphone were at him, ripping into officials. Later that night he would make up for it with a strong run in freestyle, but likely he's ready for a new facility so that his recent memories of Minneapolis evaporate.
The final truck out for freestyle would be Tom Meents, hoping to end the Decade of Destruction by preventing a sweep of the Anderson brothers. He would run hard, showing off the spiked body to the higher levels of fans.
But an early roll without getting into bonus time would prevent Meents from ending the year with a win. On this night, the Anderson boys would take both trophies as Adam would hold on to bring the freestyle victory home in the Legend, the final night his truck would run the current look. Next year, his truck will take on a purple and silver look, with the Digger ghost on the sides. Already he's stated he's going to have fun, because the look is not one he's particularly fond of. But, he still will drive it as hard as ever.
Yet this night wasn't done, as in honor of closing out the Metrodome with the best possible show, Monster Jam officials had an encore lined up for the fans. Out from the tunnel roared Charlie Pauken and Randy Brown, each in dueling Grave Diggers.
They both lined up at the bus obstacle, one on each side. Pyro suddenly came from underneath each truck, along with fireworks coming from atop the bus. Both rivers nailed the throttle, and each landed simultaneous backflips. Pauken and Brown continued to put on a quick freestyle, but it ended quickly as Pauken rolled on his first hit, not knowing when he landed one of the four-link bars was broken, as on his landing the left-front tire collapsed, sending him onto his roof, and ending the night.
This year's Monster Jam tour has come to a close, and now it's teardown time to get prepared for the ling first-quarter of action. New looks are debuting, as El Diablo now gets a new 3D body, a reworked Superman design, and the debut of the New Earth Authority.
New faces are in different trucks for this year. Seasock has already taken over the Batman truck, but Soza is moving back into the truck that made him famous, El Toro Loco. The Monster Mutt Rotweiller now has a new look to it, and the Max-D team now has a new face in their third truck, as Morgan Kane now joins Meents and Neil Elliott.
Tickets are already out for the "As Big As It Gets" tour in 2014, so visit MonsterJam.com to see if the tour hits a city near you, and get tickets for the event.