Written by: Efrain Olivares / SHIFT Communications Group
Photos: Rodney Wills
When is 1/8th of something more spectacular than the real thing?
When it is a 1/8th scale HPI Savage X doing two back flips over a stack of cars in front of a packed house of 42,000+ spectators at the Angels Stadium - way over the head of announcer Scott Rehn.
Thanks to our friends from Ultimate Hobbies in Orange, Calif. - who have been longtime sponsors of MonsterJam, and even longer supporters of HPI Racing - the Ford Party in the Pit at the January 27 round of MonsterJam in Anaheim, Calif. featured more than the usual static Monster Trucks on display.
Fans who headed into the Party in the Pit headed directly to one place - the Ultimate Hobbies R/C car demonstration area, which featured numerous gas powered radio control cars - as well as two large freestyle ramps and one large landing ramp. The real monster trucks at Monster Jam may jump over cars, but the gas-powered HPI trucks and buggies were being launched 30 feet in the air - and pulling off back flips! - before sticking their landings to the applause and cheers of the five-person-deep crowd.
And when the landings went not so smoothly - with sheared wheels, bent shocks, shattered polycarbonate and ejected mufflers - the crowd cheered even more. R/C fans were being born left and right, especially as the drivers turned their wounded machines around and sent them in the air once more for the appreciative crowd.
So popular is the Ultimate Hobbies section of the Party in the Pit that the group is asked to shut down operations early - because otherwise the crowd wouldn't make it into the stadium to watch the real monster trucks! However, the fun didn't end there for Ultimate Hobbies, or HPI Racing.
After the first round of Rhino racing, and just before the National Anthem, twenty nitro-powered R/C cars took to the field at Anaheim Stadium. While most of them easily handled the tabletop jumps featured on the MonsterJam course, some of the brave ones took to the freestyle ramp, launching and flipping high into the air over the stack of cars waiting to be crushed by the 700lb. tires of the monster trucks. The crowd roared at the sight of a Savage X (painted much like the full-size Escalade monster truck at MonsterJam) flipping and sticking its landing, blipping it's throttle to adjust it's attitude as it sailed over the soon-to-be-crushed cars.
More than just a hobby shop, Ultimate Hobbies also proved it is expert at crisis management. When it was discovered that the stadium crew was short a few people needed to hold the huge American flag on the field during the national anthem, it was Ultimate Hobbies and its bunch of sponsored drivers that took to the field, carrying the flag!
After the display of patriotism, the crowd finally got to see the first round of MonsterJam action. For those who have never been to a MonsterJam event, you are missing out. Television just doesn't do justice to the sheer spectacle of watching 10,000lb. trucks accelerate, slide and jump. And then there's the noise: 1500 horsepower V8 engines spitting their noise through Mad Max-style headers is a sound perfectly matched to the appearance of the monster trucks, and when they are let loose on the Anaheim Stadium field, it is the perfect illustration of a bull in a china shop.
The R/C cars, taking to the field for the final time that evening, there was the addition of an even bigger ramp - a freestyle ramp set up for the FMF demonstration that was going to run after the Ultimate Hobbies show. It was only a matter of seconds before nitro-powered buggies and trucks were being launched high (and we mean HIGH) into the air, with many of them even clearing the school bus fifty feet past the ramp! 45,000 people applauded each R/C car that cleared the bus, and kept on cheering for the ones that didn't. While the monster trucks did their damage to the bus later on, it was the R/C cars that drew first blood on the former kid carrier.
HPI would like to wholeheartedly thank Cliff Murakami of Ultimate Hobbies for inviting HPI to be a part of the MonsterJam experience. Look for Ultimate Hobbies and HPI Racing to team up again at the MonsterJam season finale at Sam Boyd Stadium on March 24, in Las Vegas.