This event was big: more than 2,500 participant vehicles, 48 mud racers, 16 Tough Trucks, eight monster trucks, innumerable vendors . . . and 50,827 spectators.
Those are the stats behind last summer's 10th Anniversary Summer Jamboree Nationals held in Bloomsburg, Pennsylvania. Those sizable numbers represented a host of vehicles and activities, which translated into something for every 4x4 taste, whether it was racing, show 'n' shine, or daily driver.
The Bloomsburg Fairgrounds are situated on the edge of the picturesque small college town, next to the mostly rocky, shallow Susquehanna River, which floods from time to time-and the fairgrounds has the high-water marks, with dates, to prove it.
The Show 'N 'Shine area overtakes most of the fairgrounds, and this year's collection of trucks was an interesting mix of show rigs, daily drivers, and trail thrashers, probably more of a blend than ever before. The show-only trucks didn't seem to be as numerous as in previous years, with the trend seeming to be turning to daily-driver functionality over height and aesthetics. Full-size rigs still seem to rule, with full-size Chevys and Fords filling the view everywhere you looked.
With the weekend temps in the low 90s, everyone's attention was fixed on keeping cool. We saw lots of truck beds lined with plastic tarps and filled with water and people. Some folks even had the foresight to bring along kiddie pools to lounge in.
Of course, high quality four-wheel-drive racing is the benchmark of the Special Events Performance Series, and Bloomsburg did not disappoint. Infield action consisted of mud racing, Tough Trucks, and monster trucks.
Side-by-side mud racing was sanctioned by the National Mud Racing Organization and covered the entire spectrum of six classes including stock four- and six-cylinder motors, stock full-size trucks, Super Stock, Modified (DOT tires), Unlimited cut tires, and Unlimited paddle tires. It's interesting to watch the times get faster throughout the weekend as the classes progress. For instance, Rob Pustolka turned a respectable 5.513 in his '79 Toyota pickup to win the Stock class on Friday, but by Sunday, Class 6 (Unlimited paddles) driver Steve Bareman in "Chemical Reaction'' blasted through the muck in 2.437 seconds.
Tough Truck racing is always exciting-and one of the Jamboree Series' most popular events. Around 18 Tough Trucks did battle against the clock on the dry obstacle course; it was a rough-and-tumble battle at that, with a couple of rollovers and some broken axles. They were running hard, with average times ranging from 46 to 61.3 seconds.
The Special Events Points Series Of Monster Truck Racing continued with side-by-side and "Chicago-Style'' turning-course racing. When it was all said and done, Bigfoot held onto its lead in the Series by fending off the challenge of Second-place Snakebite. Samson had a great weekend as well, winning every turning-course race on Saturday. Monster Truck freestyle exhibitions were new for '97 to the Performance Series, and Overkill and Black Stallion led the way among the big-tired beasts.
As 1997 marked the 10th anniversary of the Summer Nationals, there was a special gathering of "alumni'' on Saturday. Nineteen people were honored at the main stage; all had participated at all 10 years of the show, and six had entered the same truck every year.
Helping to make the show a success were the Boondockers 4x4 Club and the Central Pennsylvania 4x4 Club, whose members helped out with registration and games, and tech and competition, respectively.
Summer 1998 will mark the 11th annual Summer Nationals in Bloomsburg. For more information, contact Special Events, Dept. FW, 804 N. Delaware, Indianapolis, IN 46204, 317/236-6522; www.familyevents.com.