Next weekend, the Maple Leaf Monster Jam Tour for 2015 will kick off with the monster trucks invading the Rogers Centre in Toronto, Ontario for a pair of shows – a nighttime show on Saturday January 17th, and an afternoon show on Sunday January 18th. The line-up promises to produce a solid show with a star-studded 16 truck line-up, that includes Cam McQueen in Northern Nightmare, Tom Meents in Maximum Destruction, and Chad Tingler in Grave Digger.
Over the past four years, the Monster trucks have produced some of the best shows on Canadian soil, wowing fans from the start of the show to the end of the show. Here is a look back at some of those highlights from year’s past.
A Pair of Grave Diggers – 2011
Coming near the end of the show, it was time for Charlie Pauken to head out with Grave Digger. To start the run, Pauken drove straight out of his parked spot, over the first small jump. He then went after the bus stack where he soared over, making an incredible save. After saving it and despite the truck not being too damaged, Pauken drove off the track through the tunnel, leaving the arena. Everybody thought it was over for Team Grave Digger, though that wasn’t to be.Instead, the fans got a big surprise that afternoon.
Seconds later, two Grave Digger trucks came flying out of the tunnel with Pauken leading the other truck. At the end of the run, it was discovered that driving the second Grave Digger truck was team driver Randy Brown. To qualify for the World Finals in Las Vegas in March, each driver needs to have a certain amount of points in comparison to his rivals. Pauken was already set to go as defending champion after taking the Freestyle championship last year with Monster Mutt. Three-time champion and series veteran Dennis Anderson is set t0 be qualified and was running the Tampa show on the same weekend. Brown was the only driver yet qualified into World Finals as part of the Digger team and was set to run Minneapolis, however with the roof caving on that arena, the show was canceled. As a team, the call was made to help out Brown with qualifying.
Tom Meents Doubles Down in Toronto – 2012
When it was announced that Tom Meents would be making the trip to Toronto, a lot of fans were excited in anticipation as they know that they multi-time Monster Jam World Finals Champion always produces a top-notch performance, not matter the location. The fans weren’t let down as Meents came out on Saturday and was flawless in racing, scoring the victory against George Belhan in racing. He would then lay down a solid freestyle performance, scoring 33 out of a possible 35 points for the victory.
Meents will be making his first trip to Toronto since then, looking to find the Double Down trophy once again.
Jim Koehler Takes Freestyle By Storm – 2012
While Tom Meents was teh story for the Saturday show in 2012, it was Jim Koehler (featured image) stealing all of the attention in the Sunday show.
Before the show began, Jim Koehler told the crowd the following words, “Anytime you go to any Monster Jam show, its awesome competition. I’m here to rock this show and take those trophies home.”
By the end of the show, every fan in the Rogers Centre knew the meaning of those words. From top to bottom, the freestyles that the drivers delivered had the fans on their feet screaming. Every driver was hitting every opstacle, delivering high jumps and doing donuts. In the end, it was those that went above and beyond that would come out at the top of the leaderboard. Jim Koehler did just that as he soared to new heights and incredibly saved his Avenger truck after everybody thought the run was over.
“All of these Monster Jam trucks did a stellar job,” Koehler said after he won. “The whole Team Scream rocked out, Mohawk Warrior – my hats off to Tom. I was biting every nail I had on my finger; he rocked out man.”
George Belhan Scores First TV Stadium Show Victory – 2012
The 2012 event brought forth a monumental victory for George Belhan, driver of the Mohawk Warrior. Racing on a track that seemed to be biting drivers left and right, Belhan survived the track and beat his competitors to score the racing victory. While it wasn’t Belhan’s first ever victory, it was his first victory in a stadium in front of the SPEED TV Cameras.
“I’ve won a bunch of stadium shows but never a SPEED show,” Belhan said as this marked his first TV stadium racing win. “Now Scott Douglas can’t bug me about it anymore.”
Looking back at 2014….
Both shows featured some thrilling competition, with three different drivers getting the glory.
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. 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.”
On the Sunday, Chad Tingler scored the racing victory with Grave Digger to start off the show. Come freestyle time, Elliott was hoping to get another win. However, fans received disappointing news at the beginning of freestyle – Elliott wouldn’t be able to freestyle at the Sunday afternoon show due to breaking a four link in qualifying.
“I’ve got the best crew in Monster Jam, but this isn’t something we can fix,” he said. “I’ve been giving these guys Max D driving tips ‘cause you fans deserve a good show.”
Even with Elliott out of the running, the show was still impressive with a bunch of top-notch freestyle performances. In the end, Anderson bounced back from his disappointing performance on Saturday night to put Son UVA Digger on top and take the Freestyle victory.
“After last night, I was ready to come out and throw it down!” He said after the win.
Ryan Anderson and Son UVA Digger would be the last truck to go and it served to be the right move as you could say that they saved the best for last. Anderson attacked every end of the course, gaining high height off of many of the obstacles, while attacking them every which angle possible. Add in a top notch cyclone, Anderson was scored at 28 points for the win.
Without a doubt, the 2015 show will probably be another to be added in the highlight reel book so make sure you attend the event next weekend if you’re in the Toronto area.
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 3pm to 5pm on Saturday, January 17 and 10:30am to 12pm onSunday, January 18. 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.