Archive for Wednesday, March 16, 2005

It’s ‘Monster Jam’ time for local couple

March 16, 2005

Tuesday afternoon, Dawn Creten was stranded.

She and her daughters, Hope, 5, and Faith, 4, were in a motel in Tucumcari, N.M., waiting out a snowstorm.

"We made it here last night and then they closed all the roads," Dawn said. "They called for 14 inches."

As she spoke, Dawn's husband, Jimmy Creten, was already in Las Vegas with the couple's two monster trucks, preparing for this weekend's Monster Jam world finals.

The Cretens, who live in Tonganoxie, are professional monster truck drivers. Jimmy is known as Bounty Hunter and Dawn is known as Scarlet Bandit.

And this year, they've both been invited to participate in the world finals.

For the past three years, Jimmy, who is the grandson of Tonganoxie resident Mildred McMillon, participated in this competition.

"He's been in the semi-finals for two of them," Dawn said. "And he went to the final for one of those years. He's never won it, and he's hoping he can win it this year."

For Dawn, this is her first invitation to participate.

"It's really odd for them to take an independent team, so we were really surprised that we were both going to get in," Dawn said.

Because the meet is timed near spring break, the Cretens decided to make it a family affair and bring their daughters with them. Faith is a kindergarten student in Tonganoxie.

"That (the girls) might be the good luck that we need there," Dawn said. "Winning the world's finals, it's just a great honor -- they only take 20 trucks out of 200 to choose from. Being chosen is an honor in itself, but winning is a little bit of bragging rights, I guess."

Dawn said the couple is one of two husband-wife monster truck teams that she knows of.

"We've been in this the longest and I'm one of about four women in the sport," she added.

The couple met when Jimmy competed in North Dakota, Dawn's home state.

"We met at a concert after the event," Dawn said. "A couple weeks went by, I decided to go travel with him for a little bit and I never went home again."

About six years ago, she filled in for one of Jimmy's drivers, and she's been driving ever since. The couple will compete against one another in Las Vegas.

"We do about 45 shows a year," Dawn said. "This year we've done really well. We've had a lot of wins and we've competed against each other a lot. We feel more comfortable racing each other especially if it's in the semifinals or finals because we know one of us will make it to the finals."

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