Cover Photo Credit: Louise Strout Cook
It’s Been a little while since I last Featured a Rig, and I’ll even admit that this Feature was originally started over 2 years ago. Life got in the way, as it can for us all sometimes, and My Writings took a back burner. But this Feature is not about Me, You see, as I was scrolling my Newsfeed earlier this week, I saw that this Amazing rig was being retired, and it made me think about that “lost feature” and how the Jeep really did deserve to be recognized for its story, and its long standing contribution to our sport.
You see, In a sport as brutally hard on the trucks as this, the lifespan of these chassis isn’t overly long. But this beast has been throwing mud steadily, consistently, and furiously for 12 years now. It’s become almost Infamous at all our local tracks in both Deep Mud with Bill Rideout’s All or Nothing Driving style, and Ronald Pike’s experience and precision on the Fast Track. These guys have worked together to make this Jeep a serious force to be reckoned with, and for the last 12 years have always kept things interesting, and always kept it’s competition on its toes.
So as this Jeeps chassis reaches the end of its lifespan, and Bill and Ron welcome something new to their future, I feel the need to take the time to pay proper tribute, and respect to these guys and finally tell the story behind that Awesome Orange Jeep called “The Angry Pumpkin”!!!
I suppose to tell this story right, I need to start at the very beginning. That takes us way back to 1997, when a chance run-in at a local store between Ronald Pike and Bill Rideout, started a true friendship that would last for many years and still continues to this day. At the time Bill was into circle track, and when Ron had to poke a little fun at Bills Tow vehicle, Ron told him if he wanted to prove he had a real truck then he should stop playing with the “roundy rounds” and come with him to the mud pit. Bill did, and that started His mud addiction, and blossomed a Mud Friendship that would turn into something quite special in the unforeseen future.
But for now, let’s fast forward to 2006 when Ron had a chassis built by Troy Brown in his Bright Orange Jeep Scrambler. Leaf sprung, and on a Ford 9” rear and Dana 44 front, He then crammed a massive 598 Big Block Mopar between its fender wells, Ron has a array of tires from DOT, Cuts, and Paddles for various classes, and within its first few passes, a young special needs fan shouted “That’s one Angry Pumpkin truck you got there!!” From that, Stickers were ordered and the Jeep had a name. The boy was right. Charlie Brown better move over, because this is one seriously Pi$$ed Off Pumpkin!
Ron ran the Jeep in that form for a number of years with great success. Then in 2014, As Ron was getting older, and upkeep on the Jeep becoming more difficult for him, He and Bill decided to join forces and start racing the Jeep as a team. Bill sold his Open Rail, and turned all his efforts into making The Angry Pumpkin faster, and more powerful.
That first year, The 598 finally blew, and they had it sent to Mike Macmaster of West Gardiner, Maine to be built to its absolute limits into a beastly 648 cubic inch monstrosity. I should also add that, on this rig, You won’t find any nitrous bottles, big belted blowers, or fancy turbos with shiny tubing. This thing is ALL motor. Pure Mopar Muscle screaming it’s war song at the highest rpm’s it’s bearings will allow.
Within the next few seasons, with all its new found power, it has Launched, Wheelied, Skimmed, and Skipped it’s way to trophies all around New England. Then, in the never ending quest to become just a little bit faster than the rest, Bill converted the Rear leaf springs to a 4-link set up.
The rig has solidly and consistently ran hard and won many accolades. It’s brought home countless trophies over the years, was once a Throttle King Qualifier(2015)(The motor blowing prevented a appearance in the finals), and just in 2018 alone, Bill took 3 Different Deep Mud Points Championships, With Ron taking a Fast Track Points Championship, and Bill taking 2nd in Open Fast Track in Class 7 and a 3rd in Class 8.
Unfortunately, Bill had a Rollover at Trucks Gone Wild weekend at Barnyard All Terrain in Livermore, Maine. While Bill, luckily, was unscathed, They have decided that the chassis has bent enough to render it unsafe for the speeds that they are attaining. With Saftey, of course, being the number one priority, it’s inevitable that The Angry Pumpkin, at least in this incarnation, must be laid to rest.
In one sense, It’s Sad, these rigs take on a larger than life persona, and sometimes it’s hard to remember it’s really just a Jeep, a piece of metal that is susceptible to the abuse it’s being put through. But also on the other hand, It’s very exciting. It means a new chapter in this amazing story. A story and a friendship that has stood the test of time. And I know that the next chapter will be just as interesting and exciting as the previous ones. I know these guys will be there together, making that Big Block Mopar sing, striking fear into their competition and making them scramble for another nitrous bottle or a few more pounds of boost to keep up. I want to wish Ron and Bill all the best on their new build, and all the best for the future. I also know that Ron and Bill would like to Thank all the Fans, All the track owners, Friends and Family for the unwavering support over the years. While this may be the end of The Angry Pumpkin as we all know it, It is not The End… It’s When Goodbye means New Beginnings.