Summer time for a car or truck guy is the time they really get to show off. After keeping their vehicles in cold garages for what has seemed like forever, the sun comes out and the temperatures increase, meaning car shows and truck meets are in full swing.
Quite possibly the biggest gathering of 4×4 vehicles on the east coast comes in of all places, just south of the Pocono Mountains, just off Interstate 80. A quiet college town for a majority of the year, also playing host to the biggest county fair in the state of Pennsylvania, gets turned into a truck gathering unlike anything else in the area. The Bloomsburg Fairgrounds were ready to once again host the A&A Auto Stores 4-Wheel Jamboree Summer Nationals, and were welcomed with the usual sunshine and humidity that everyone expects at this event.
Friday started out sunny, with a bit of wind, and that seemed to be a welcome change after the previous week’s heavy storms. What was storming into the infield for the Penda-style race course was a six-pack of monster trucks, ready to take charge on a wide open field.
The usual characters made their way once again, as Christian Norman had his gorgeous Bigfoot piece out for competition, hoping his Lucas Oil “Wildfoot” design gave him good vibes. Across the lane, Mat Dishman and the Raminator were ready to keep momentum after their full sweep in Lima one month prior.
Vaters Motorsports brought out the duo of Mike Sr. and Mike Jr, with both the Black Stallion and Overkill Evolution ready to roar with the blue oval brand standing proud. Kurt Kraehmer once again held the General Tire banner, and was hoping to keep the truck in one piece after the roll at the last event.
To finish out the six pack, a team that after three years of waiting, made it’s return. It had a Ram body, and a familar wrap, but under the body was an entirely new concept. In 2016, Dave Radzierez rolled in with his XDP machine, and rolled coal in his twin-turbo diesel. After a few years of running a traditional alcohol engine, complete with a slightly new identity for his long-time sponsor. Last summer, the XDP team went under the knife, and in return rolled out a completely new machine with a new body, but most importantly a new engine design.
The XDP Ram was now powered by a clean-running, twin-turbo, common rail Cummins engine, putting out 1800 horsepower. What makes this truck so different now, compared to three years prior, is that this truck is putting out very little smoke. So little, it actually ran indoors for the first few months of the year. Now, he’s back at a place where he’s been wildly popular, and has been known to throw down some exciting runs in the process.
The crowd filed in for Friday night’s action, as the sun began to set on the infield of the Bloomsburg fair, but already drivers were a bit concerned heading into the first round.
Both racing lanes had an extremely steep incline on the first obstacle, almost four-feet high with an angle that was more of a sky jump rather than a roller. Drivers had to adapt immediately upon seeing the first race of the weekend, one that sidelined one truck for the night.
Radzierez had the inside lane for the start, taking on Vaters Jr. in the Overkill Evolution Ford, and at the hit of the throttle when both trucks hit the hill, it was nothing but a rocket launch. Each truck had to settle down in order to set up for the next hill, where Vaters Jr. pulled away with ease. Radzierez finished his run, and when returning to the pits, he and Michelle Simpson discovered a broken center section in the front housing. No front drive meant he would not get to perform any longer on the night, a huge disappointment for his return.
As the rounds continued, the typical machines worked their way through the bracket until it came down to once again, a Foot vs. a Ram, as Dishman and Norman met up in the finals.
With a streak on the line, Dishman chose his line wisely, but so did Norman. Each settled down after the rocket ramps, but it was Norman hammering his Ford Raptor as hard as he could. It was enough to push him across the final hill, and to his first win of the 2019 season, ending Dishman’s streak, while extending another streak for the Bigfoot organization at the historic venue.
Dating all the way back to 2016, with Larry Swim at the wheel, the last four times Team Bigfoot has faced Raminator in the finals at this venue, the Foot camp has gone 4-0. This place has certainly been kind over the years to many of the Bigfoot greats, from Swim to Dan Runte, Norman and Andy Brass. Add one more victory to that list after Friday’s action.
Round 1: Overkill Evolution def. Xtreme Diesel; Lucas Oil Bigfoot def. Black Stallion; Raminator def. General Tire.
Semi-Finals: Lucas Oil Bigfoot def. Overkill Evolution; Raminator def. Black Stallion (FL).
Title Round: Lucas Oil Bigfoot def. Raminator.
As the tough truck teams made their way back to the main pit area, the big teams were preparing now for the second part of their show on the night, the best trick competition. The hard part with Bloomsburg this year, all the obstacles for the most part were set on the front stretch, with a unique elevated double jump set up near the stage, and also a trench that was added last year to help drain the water during heavy downpours.
It didn’t seem to make a difference because Dishman managed to get his wheelstand down perfect, while Kraehmer cycloned the deep-cleat General Tires, and Norman soared the Raptor to the sky. But, when it came to the best trick, no one was touching Vaters Jr, who pulled a perfect pair of poppers on the front stretch so the crowd could actually read the roof of his 2019 Ford Super Duty. It was picturesque for everyone involved, but the young man was still not done.
His freestyle, which came in the middle of the field due to how the lineup was set from the racing bracket, saw him keep full momentum across the entire infield, minus the hill setup in turn two, and many side slaps that were almost set to spin his truck like a top. When the event ended, a few of the officials keyed the radio asking who won the events, and it was lead official Lee Collins from WHR Motorsports who tagged in, saying, “There was no competition. Evo, Evo, Evo.”
As the weekend enters the second day, even more fans are already heading out to the big event, as Saturday’s schedule in Bloomsburg is an all-day fest of mud, dirt, and memories. The monsters get two opportunities to thrill the audience, as they have a 1 p.m. performance that will have all three categories for the PA-faithful to enjoy. Then, as the day turns to night, an 8:30 p.m. show will be simply freestyle, with a fireworks show to follow it up, a tradition for many years at the venue.
Get out to the Bloomsburg Fairgrounds, as this will not be a day to miss for anything.
POINT STANDINGS* (4 of 9 Events)-Wins in Brackets *Points are unofficial
Raminator – 600 
Lucas Oil Bigfoot – 440 
Overkill Evolution – 360
Bad News Travels Fast – 240
General Tire – 200
Black Stallion – 200
Xtreme Diesel – 40
Overkill Evolution – 2
Bad News Travels Fast – 1
General Tire – 1
Overkill Evolution – 3
Lucas Oil Bigfoot – 2