MJ: Grave Digger, Northern Nightmare Take Center Stage at Rogers Centre

Photo Credit: Ashley McCubbin

Following a night that saw Team Digger lead the way in every category possible, the rest of the bunch came back stronger on Sunday in hopes of topping the charts.

RELATED: Read the full recap from Saturday night by clicking here

The afternoon show would kick off once again with the brand new rockets, which are dune style automobiles meant for kicking up a thriller show. Ryan Anderson completed the Canadian rocket debut weekend in style, winning racing on Sunday to go with his victory from Saturday night.

The monster trucks would then make their way out on the floor, set to qualify with the top-eight trucks moving on to the bracket races. Anderson would be looking to have a strong run, but came up short behind the wheel of Son-UVA Digger as he would have a tire go flat during his run. Instead, it’d be Carl Van Horn driving Grave Digger with the fast time at 24.848 seconds after winning the racing action on Saturday night.

The rest of the top-nine times go as follows:

  • 25.261 Northern Nightmare
  • 25.267 Black Stallion
  • 25.279 Bounty Hunter
  • 25.610 Dragon
  • 25.714 Storm Damage
  • 26.042 Monster Mutt
  • 26.705 Zombie
  • 27.222 Scooby
  • 27.636 Alien Damage
  • 29.043 Wrecking Crew

With the bracket set, it’d be time to kick off racing into high gear.

Van Horn would keep his solid Toronto streak in tact, defeating Sean Duhon and Zombie in the first match of the quarter finals. Cam McQueen kept the Canadian fans feeling pride as he drove Northern Nightmare to the victory ahead of Chad Tingler and Alien Invasion. Ontario native Scott Liddycoat impressed his hometown fans, picking up the win ahead of Nicole Johnson and Scooby Doo.

The final quarter final match would see Trent Montgomery picked up the victory ahead of Rod Schmidt and Monster Mutt Rottweilier, as Schmidt caught one of the crush cars and flipped over. There’d be minor damage to the mutt, with Schmidt easily able to return later in the show for freestyle.

The pair of semi-final matches would see the closest finishes of the entire weekend, with officials having to check the trucks’ individual lap times to determine which of the pair were quicker in their bracket. Van Horn would score the victory in the first bracket with a time of 24.996 seconds, just over McQueen’s 25.026, while Liddycoat would score the victory in the second bracket with a time of 25.165 seconds, just over Montgomery’s 25.225.

With the semi-final brackets complete, it was time for the finals with Van Horn faced up against Liddycoat. Liddycoat hoped to impress in front of the Ontario crowd, but would fall short as he overshot the final turn and spun. As a result, it’d be Carl Van Horn picking up his sixth Toronto victory and fourth in racing. Notably, CVH has only made two previous appearances in Toronto – 2005 and this year – winning racing and freestyle in both the Saturday and Sunday show in 2005 to go with this year’s pair of racing victories.

“These guys worked all the way till 6:30 (a.m. after the Saturday show) to get this truck ready, so I owed them a win,” Van Horn said.

RELATED: See all the photos from racing action by clicking here

For the drivers that were unable to qualify in the top-eight, they would get to run the donut competition in hopes of scoring a victory. Brian Maes would come out solid behind the wheel of Iron Outlaw, making some good rotations for a score of 24. Jim Tracey also put together a solid performance behind the wheel of Higher Education as well, but it wouldn’t be enough to beat Maes with 21 points.

The weekend notably didn’t start off well for Cory Rummel, as he blew the engine in Rage on Saturday. He would then step behind the wheel of Wrecking Crew on Sunday, and showed that he deserved a right to get the chance behind the wheel, putting together some solid donuts for an impressive score of 31.

The next three trucks would each accomplish making some donuts on the floor, but nothing that would be spectacular to the fans in the stands. Steven Thompson would score 23 behind the wheel of Hurricane Force, followed by Tim Mente scoring 19 points behind the wheel of Storm Damage and Matt Cody scoring 26 points behind the wheel of Black Stallion.

With his tire problems in qualifying, Ryan Anderson would be the last driver to take part in the donut competition. He proved just why he is a driver to always watch, putting together some of the best donuts of the weekend for a perfect score of 40. As a result, he would be crowned with his fourth Toronto victory, after winning Saturday racing & Sunday freestyle in 2014, and freestyle on Saturday night this year. Notably, Anderson has only made two appearances in Toronto.

“We had a tire issue last night, thought we solved it and it happened again,” he offered afterwards. “I didn’t wanna go down like that, but that makes us come back bigger and badder. This isn’t what I came for; I came for freestyle. I can promise you that truck won’t look that pretty tonight after we’re done.”

RELATED: See photos from the DONUT Competition by clicking here

With the racing competition in the books, it’d be time for freestyling, in which promised to be a good show.

The freestyle portion of the show would start off with the monster jam rockets, running in pairs on the track.

Schmidt and Liddycoat would kick things off, both hitting some solid jumps across the floor. It seemed that Schmidt found some more height at times than Liddycoat, and Liddycoat would suffer a mechanical breakage with about 20 seconds on the clock. For their efforts, the pair would receive 26 points.

Team Grave Digger would follow with Van Horn and Anderson at the healm. The pair would find the momentum quicker, hitting the jumps higher than the previous pair and coming off in some odd ways. One of the moves for Anderson would not pan out as he hoped, as he’d catch one of the front tires in the hill to flip the rocket over. He would be okay, and the pair would receive a perfect 40 points to take the win. For Team Grave Digger, it marks their second straight win as they also won the previous night.

“Those rockets are awesome and it’s great to debut them here,” Van Horn shared. “These things are going to get bigger and badder, and we can say it started here.”

RELATED: See photos from the Team Rocket Freestyle by clicking here

With the rockets done, the trucks would be up next to freestyle.

Tracey would kick off the show, looking to have fun with the “cool bus” as it has become known. He would carry some solid momentum across the floor, getting a bit of air and including a cross thread over the mountain of dirt hills. He would be scored 18 regulation points and a single bonus point for a score of 19.

Maes would kick it up another notch, though, getting about the same amount of air, but combining with a slap wheelie across the floor of the stadium. It was enough to impress the judges that they gave him 26 regulation points and a single bonus point for a score of 27.

After his donut performance, Rummel was hoping to keep the weekend going on a good note. He would put together a solid performance, having what looked to be better momentum than those before him to go with a big jump mixed in. The judges would give him 27 regulation points and two bonus points for a score of 29.

Duhon has developed a solid reputation in freestyle competition, and that showed on Sunday. He would put together the biggest air that the fans had seen to that point in the show off of the mountain, while adding a wheelie and a pair of close calls. It’d result in him gaining the lead to this point, with 32 regulation points and two bonus points for a score of 34.

Mente would then put in a solid run in his 10th season of competition with some decent air for 24 regulation points and a bonus point to get 25 points.

Schmidt managed to get the entire stadium chanting and calling his name through the run, as he pushed the mutt as far as he could through the run. From a couple cyclones, to the biggest air of the night thus far and a great save in the midst of the run, it was one of those memorable Toronto runs. He would be awarded for his efforts, scoring 36 regulation points and three bonus points for a score of 39.

RELATED: Watch the video of Rod Schmidt’s Freestyle by clicking here

With the bar raised high, Cody would put together an impressive run but it wouldn’t be enough in scoring just 28 points. He would then followed by Liddycoat, who pushed the bar a little more with some big air times for a score of 36. The big air seemed to carry through the rest of the show for the most part, as Thompson had some as well en route to scoring 34 points.

A lot of people expected Tingler to be a driver to watch this weekend, but while carrying a lot of momentum there was no wow-factors in his performance. It showed in the scores from the judges, too, as he only scored 29 points.

After a strong second place performance on Saturday night, all eyes were on Johnson to keep Scooby at the top of the heap. Unfortunately, she would start off the run with a wheelie off of a jump, with the truck coming out from under her and rolling over with 65 of 90 seconds still remaining. She would be rewarded 25 points as a result.

Montgomery was also looking to impress, but would suffer a mechanical breakage, breaking the front shock in the first 15 seconds after a single big jump. He was awarded 15 points.

Looking to win freestyle for the second night in a row, Anderson came out of the gate real strong with some solid air. As he went through the run, he was able to carry the momentum and get solid air time, but never hit that spectacular level that he is known for due to a transmission issues with the truck. Still, he was able to put on a display for the fans, bicycling the truck across the stadium floor on two separate occasions during the run. He was awarded for his effort by the judges, scoring 37 regulation points and three bonus points for a score of 40.

RELATED: Watch the video of Ryan Anderson’s run by clicking here

Van Horn wanted to take home the double down trophy, and came out of the box on a solid note. However, he never hit the height that was found by Schmidt, or got the fans as excited as Anderson was able to with the bicycles. Notably, though, he did have some solid air, popped a great wheelie and had a solid save along the way. He was awarded 36 regulation points and a single bonus point for a score of 37.

McQueen would be the last truck to go out, putting together a solid performance with solid air across the entire floor off of each of the obstacles. While there were trucks that avoided some, he made sure to hit each of the obstacles on the floor and launch off each with solid momentum. He then finished off the run with the first ever Toronto backflip during freestyle competition. The judges would score him 35 regulation points and a single bonus point for a score of 36.

RELATED: Watch a video of Cam McQueen’s run by clicking here

As a result with 40 points, it’d be Ryan Anderson and Son-UVA Digger picking up the victory. Following the donut competition win earlier in the show, that marked his fifth victory in Ontario’s capital.

The victory wouldn’t last long, though, for Anderson. When he was given a chance to speak in the microphone, the trophy would quickly change hands.

“Cam put on a helluva run and deserves the trophy,” Anderson said. “So I’m going to give it to him and keep this trophy in Canada.”

With Anderson handing over the trophy to Cam McQueen and Northern Nightmare, it unofficially marks McQueen’s fourth victory in Toronto after winning a pair of freestyles and racing once in previous appearances.

RELATED: See all the photos from freestyle by clicking here

The decision in whom won is certainly something that the fans will debate in weeks to come.

The judging at Monster Jam competitions has come into question over the past couple of years, as rather than using their own series professionals, they elect six fans to do the judging. Each of those fans chosen ranks the run out of 10 points, and then they drop the lowest score and the highest score to determine the score out of 40.

There have been cases where some drivers have been scored higher than they should, and unfair wins (in some people’s eyes) have been given as a result.

In this writer’s opinion, Schmidt put together the best run of the night, followed by McQueen and then the run by Anderson. But where I may say that, someone else may have something else to say based on how they view the competition.

While being a competition, Monster Jam is seen as a form of entertainment in watching drivers take these trucks to heights unknown, while completing other impossible feats along the way. For that purpose, the weekend in Toronto was certainly entertaining for any fans in attendance over the course of the weekend.

With a successful weekend in the books, the stars of Monster Jam will get ready to hit the next stop on the Canadian tour of the season. The next stage of the Canadian tour will see them head to Winnipeg, Manitoba at the end of January, followed by the Rexall Place in Alberta to kick off the month of February. Canadian fans out west will also be able to catch the trucks in Vancouver, British Columbia at the BC Place Stadium on February 27. The FELD Entertainment ran tour will then return to Ontario on April 23 and 24 for a show in London, before heading out east to Halifax, Nova Scotia on May 28 and 29. Calgary, Alberta will then hold the final show of 2016 in Canada on September 17 and 18.

Be sure to check out http://www.monsterjamcanada.ca and get tickets for any of these shows as they each promise to be filled with lots of entertainment.