Mark List rediscovered his passion for Monster Jam ahead of the World Finals

List Monster Jam Finals
Feld Entertainment, Inc.

As Mark List prepares his Monster Jam Truck for this weekend’s World Finals in Orlando, Florida, on May 21-22, he knows distance makes the heart fonder.

List and his El Toro Loco truck moved into the Red Stadium Series this year after a two-year pandemic pause and the change of scenery brought a new perspective. After years of traveling internationally with Monster Jam, List was fatigued.

In March 2020, while staying with family in Anchorage, Alaska, during a snowboarding trip, the world started to shut down. When things settled a little, List returned to Florida to grab a few things, and then headed back to Alaska to ride out the pandemic. 

“I feel like this two-year break allowed me to come into this year’s competition with a very relaxed brain, basically not thinking about having to go and win, I was just excited to be back behind the truck having fun,” List told NBC Sports. “Everything started working out the right way. I was having so much fun this season and we actually put in a very good performance.”

List began the season with an extremely hot start, winning the overall in the first two weekends. Any trepidation he felt from the pause was behind him. Moving to the stadium series and bigger venues suited his driving style while letting him spread his wings on the jumps. 

MORE: Weston Anderson become first driver to lock into World Finals

“I was very nervous when it started,” List explained. “Because I was working with my professor, Tom Meents, (who was) at the time the world champion, (competing against) Adam Anderson, driver of Grave Digger. I mean all the best drivers of Monster Jam were on my tour, so it got me very nervous at the start of the season. But well, after two years of not driving we started the season with the two first overall event championships and that boosted my confidence a lot.”

List Monster Jam Finals
The jumps have been bigger and the freestyles are more dramatic this year as the competition stepped up their game. (Feld Entertainment, Inc.)

List’s success in Monster Jam comes in part from his path to it.

He started with the series as a track builder and when the opportunity came to drive, he took it. There’s a small advantage in knowing how the track is going to react to the trucks, but the more difficult journey is knowing how you and your truck are going to react to the track. 

“It definitely has a little bit of an advantage, because I know how the dirt is going to react throughout the event, how the moisture is in and so on,” List said about his track building experience. “But these days the talent of drivers is so good. We have so much talent that that little advantage, that could have been significant back in the day, doesn’t mean anything now.”

The margin for success is razor thin in Monster Jam. Over the last 30 years, the drivers have continued to get better making competition tight. This weekend, List will join his series-mates and the top competition from around the league to compete in World Finals. 

“World Finals is obviously the biggest event in Monster Jam and all the athletes are looking forward to competing,” List said. “I’m very happy and satisfied that I actually qualified through the main field. It’s going to be an amazing year, we’re going to be competing on a whole different track – one that none of us has ever run. So the fans are going to be able to experience this whole new track design. The lineup of drivers it’s so good that I guaranteed that it’s going to be the best World Finals that we’ve ever seen.”

List had to fight through some of the toughest competition on his tour this year which has prepared him to the grand stage of World Finals. This competition made both List and his competition into better racers.  

“Being behind the wheel, I used to be very nervous, thinking I need to go out there and be better than them,” List said. “This year, I understood that I had to race my own race.

“Working with the best competition, when you’re racing with good people you’re going to get better. This year everyone increased their talent. Every single person on our tour – we were all pushing our limits. Everyone went out on the track and put up faster and faster lap times – we put out bigger freestyles. It was great growth overall for the whole tour.

So, for World Finals it’s going to be good, I learned how to stay calm, learned what my truck is going to do after a big jump, let the truck do it’s thing then take control after that and continue to do it even bigger.” 

Kyle Larson wins third consecutive High Limit Sprint race at Eagle Raceway, Rico Abreu second again

Larson High Limit Eagle
High Limit Racing - Twitter

It took four attempts for Kyle Larson to win his first High Limit Sprint Car Series race in the series he co-owns with brother-in-law Brad Sweet, but once he found victory lane, he has been undefeated with his win at Eagle (Nebraska) Raceway. For the second week, Abreu led early only to fall prey to Larson.

The win was Larson’s third straight victory and the fifth consecutive top-five, giving him a perfect sweep of the season after finishing 10th in last year’s inaugural race at Lincoln Park Speedway in Putnamville, Indiana.

Larson started third behind Abreu and Brent Marks but was embroiled in a fierce battle with Anthony Macri for third during the first dozen laps. Larson slipped by Macri in traffic until a red flag waved for a flip by Lachlan McHugh.

Meanwhile at the front of the pack, Marks retook the lead from Abreu on Lap 18. Larson followed one lap later and then caution waved again. Tyler Courtney lost power and fell to 24th after starting eighth.

Marks scooted away on the restart but tragedy struck in Lap 26. Leading the race, Marks hit a pothole in Turn 1, bicycled and then flipped, handing the lead to Larson.

Abreu caught Larson again during the final laps and in a reprise of their battle at Tri-City Speedway, the two threw sliders at one another for several laps until Larson built some separation and ran away to the checkers.

“I didn’t feel like my pace in [Turns] 1 & 2 slowed down a ton,” Larson said from victory lane. “I missed it once there and then I saw his nose in 3 & 4. I didn’t know if he nailed the bottom that well behind me and I think he might have slid me in the next corner, so he was definitely on the top.

“I was nervous to move up there because my car was really pogoing up in the entry of 1. I got up just in time, made a few mistakes and he threw a couple more sliders at me but he was just a little too far back and I was able to squirt around him. Then I really had to commit to hitting my marks – back my effort down a bit to avoid mistakes.”

After leading early, Abreu fell back as far as sixth, but faith in his car kept hope alive.

“I just needed to do a few things a few laps before I did and fix some angles, then my car got a whole lot better,” Abreu said. “I’m thankful for this team; they do an amazing job. They don’t give up on me. I know my car is going to be there right at the end of these races, so it’s just the discipline of being patient.”

For Abreu, it was his third near-miss this season. He was leading at Lakeside in the 2023 opener until a tire went flat in the closing laps and he lost the lead to Larson late in the Tri-City Speedway race. Abreu has finished sixth or better in his last three High Limit races with each result being progressively better until his pair of runner-up results.

Third-place finisher Scelzi was the hard charger, advancing from 17th.

“I had a very specific plan; don’t go near [the hole in Turn 1],” Scelzi said. “It worked out. No one wanted to start on the top. I think I gained a couple of rows there on the choose cone and ran the middle, which seemed to be better than right around the bottom.”

Michael “Buddy” Kofoid in fourth and Macri rounded out the top five.

World of Outlaws star and former NASCAR driver Kasey Kahne was one of 41 entrants, but he was not among the 26 starters. He failed to advance to the Main after finishing eighth in the B Main and seventh in his heat.

Feature Results

A Feature (40 Laps): 1. 57-Kyle Larson[4]; 2. 24-Rico Abreu[1]; 3. 18-Giovanni Scelzi[17]; 4. 71-Michael Kofoid[5]; 5. 39M-Anthony Macri[3]; 6. 9-Chase Randall[9]; 7. 26-Zeb Wise[14]; 8. 1X-Jake Bubak[15]; 9. 8-Aaron Reutzel[10]; 10. 14D-Corey Day[18]; 11. 11-Cory Eliason[12]; 12. 5T-Ryan Timms[11]; 13. 88-Austin McCarl[13]; 14. 21H-Brady Bacon[22]; 15. 48-Danny Dietrich[16]; 16. 7S-Robbie Price[19]; 17. 21-Brian Brown[23]; 18. 22-Riley Goodno[26]; 19. 52-Blake Hahn[25]; 20. 15H-Sam Hafertepe Jr[21]; 21. 3J-Dusty Zomer[6]; 22. 14-Cole Macedo[7]; 23. 19-Brent Marks[2]; 24. 7BC-Tyler Courtney[8]; 25. 25-Lachlan McHugh[20]; 26. 53-Jack Dover[24]

2023 High Limit Sprint Car Series

Race 1: Giovanni Scelzi wins at Lakeside Speedway
Race2: Anthony Macri wins at 34 Raceway
Race 3: Kyle Larson wins at Wayne County Speedway
Race 4: Kyle Larson wins at Tri-City Speedway