Mike Vaters drove his Black Stallion Monster Truck into Raleigh, North Carolina
for USHRA (United States Hot Rod Association) Thunder Nationals Series Monster Jam action at the RBC Center Arena.
More than 7500 hardcore fans started off the evening with a pit party
before the show. They were able to meet the drivers and take pictures. “One of
the highlights as a driver is to meet so many fans,” said driver Michael Vaters.
“It’s also great to see how fans react when they are right next to a 66 inch
Black Stallion Monster Truck
Sky-wheelies or straight line racing over one set of cars is high flying
and faced paced. The Monster Jam track freestyle layout had vans side-by-side lined up on top of a 4
foot dirt hill. “One truck at a time would hit the back side of the racing
lines,” said Vaters. “As the first several trucks got the show underway the cars
got pounded into shape. We were all getting a feel for the track and how hard the
floor would bite. The dirt changes from place to place so the first time on the
throttle is always questionable.”
Michael Vaters at the Thunder Nationals Series Monster Jam
Vaters watched as the other trucks hit the track. Andy Slifko stood his truck
straight up and down most of the way across the cars for a 24 point score. The
Black Stallion launched forward and had the crowd on its feet. “We only earned a
23,” said Vaters. “Gary Porter and Grave Digger went last. Grave Digger broke a
transmission and put him out of competition until the freestyle portion.”
Fans from the audience pulled out numbers to determine the brackets for racing.
Eradicator defeated Iron Warrior, Monster Mutt defeated Backdraft and Black
Stallion defeated his teammate Iron Warrior in the semi-finals.
The finals were intense with a lot of cash on the line. “It would be the closest
race of the night,” said Vaters. “We took the win over Monster Mutt.”
The last event of the evening was Freestyle and it came down to a battle between
Black Stallion and Grave Digger. Vaters attacked the track with a vengeance and
flew across the length of the RBC Center floor, threw a donut and roared down
towards the stack of vans again. “I cross jumped from the racing lanes onto the
van stack,” he said. “The crowd went nuts and the judge appreciated the extra
effort and gave us a 27.”
Gary Porter replaced his transmission and Grave Digger used the entire floor for
a high flying run. The judges awarded Porter a 30 and the win.
The next night the track crew gave the crowd something extra by stacking the
cars in the racing lanes into a pyramid along with the van stack. “The obstacles
looked huge considering the floor is the size of an ice hockey rink,” said
Vaters. “We jumped and showed off our donuts.”
Vaters uses K&N Engineering products. “I use K&N’s injector and oil filters,” he
said. “We’re hard on motors at every race and K&N protects our engines. It can
handle the Monster Truck scene.”
Ultimately Grave Digger won the event. “Raleigh was fun for our team,” said
Vaters. “We’ll be in Springfield, Illinois for this weekend’s action.”
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