There are always certain events that drivers and crews seem to circle on their Monster Jam calendars because they are consistently big events. For nearly three decades, one of the biggest has been in Orlando, Florida. It's not just the event itself that makes it big, but it's also all the happenings beforehand.
It's no secret that the fans in Orlando take their Monster Jam event to the next level, as many come out early to tailgate from breakfast all the way through the time gates open. Drivers themselves will make their own rounds and actually get their lunch from the fans, rather than sponsors.
Sadly, the current Citrus Bowl is going to be torn down as a new stadium will be erected in it's place. This made this year's event one that everyone wanted to win.
The Chicago-Style track was massive, and 16 trucks and drivers were ready to put on a show in front of the sold-out grandstands, packing upwards of 50,000 people. The one everyone was watching entering the night was Dennis Anderson in Grave Digger. The Orlando crowd has consistently been behind the Digger team for many years, and there was no difference on this night. Entering Orlando, the all-new Grave Digger XXX had an impressive 13-0 record in racing, sweeping the first three weekends.
At the same time, a year ago, the elder Anderson was not in attendance, as it was Chad Tingler behind the wheel of Digger. But there was an Anderson in attendance...Ryan Anderson, and the crowd loved his sweep of a year ago, taking home racing and freestyle.
This year, with two Andersons in attendance, drivers like Morgan Kane in Max-D, Rod Schmidt in the Rottweiler and others, it was going to be a tough night to get any victory.
Sure enough, when the racing bracket worked it's way to the finals, it would be another father-son battle. In Houston, it was Dennis taking out his son in the first stadium final of the year, so Ryan had a little more incentive to get a win. Not only did he want to get revenge for that night, but knowing at the time his dad was riding a 16-race win streak, he was hungry. At the light, both trucks were hard on the throttle, literally keeping it close through each leap and each turn. The final turn and leap would determine the winner, and in the end...the streak ended.
Son-Uva Digger would take the win in racing, and as a reward Ryan got a trophy, and according to his dad, would also "wash all the dishes, cut the grass, feed the hogs..." but it was all in good fun and with a lot of love.
With one trophy down, it was time to see who would take home the freestyle trophy. The 16-truck field would only see 14 run, as Scott Hartsock's Gunslinger broke a wheel off during his qualifying run, and then BJ Johnson wouldn't even make racing as his engine in Mohawk Warrior let go early in the night.
There was a lot of anticipation and early on, strong runs by Nicole Johnson in Scooby Doo and Steve Thompson in Hurricane Force would highlight the night. Dennis also would then come out and put on a very strong, classic Digger run that would tie him for the lead with a score of 24 alongside Thompson.
But, there was no stopping Ryan on this night.
Son-Uva Digger roared out onto the Orlando floor and did not even think about backing up, stopping, or slowing down his entire run. It was practically a mirror image of what he accomplished a year ago, big air, a couple saves, and in the end the 1950 Willys on it's side, but the crowd roaring. The score to beat was 24, and Ryan not only did that, he outscored everyone in the first 90 seconds, finishing the night with 30 points, 26 coming in regulation and another four in his bonus time. It would finish off a clean sweep, as he was top qualifier, won racing, and won freestyle, making it the first Double Down in a stadium for the year.
For the rest of the weekend results, including the other stadium events in New Orleans, Phoenix, Anaheim and Indianapolis, visit MonsterJam.com.