Up until a few weeks ago, I’d never even heard of a Monster Jam™—let alone attended one—that is until I received my Christmas present from my youngest son and his family. It was a ticket to a Monster Jam™ to be held at the Spectrum Center in Charlotte, NC, home of the NBA franchise Charolotte Hornets basketball team. If you’re not familiar with the term “Monster Jam™”, let me explain it for you. It’s a motorsport event involving a bunch of monstrous-looking, obscenely high-powered, four-wheel-drive vehicles with oversized tires, which takes place mostly indoors at arenas and covered stadiums around the country.
To prepare for the event, huge amounts of red clay are trucked in and spread around the floor of the building, with a gigantic raised area in the center made of oversized moguls. These are for the jumps. The vehicles have such unlikely names as: El Toro Loco, Gravedigger, Alien Invasion, Megalodon, etc., and they are LOUD! In order to prevent spectators from being sprayed with dirt, the entire lower section of seats is covered with blue tarpaulins. My son, granddaughter, and I sat just a couple of rows in back of the covered area, and had a great view of the action. At one point, however, I was struck in the face by a clod of dirt thrown up by one of the trucks. Luckily, I had on glasses, and no harm was done. (Next time, if there is one, I’ll be sure to be a few rows farther back.)
Each Monster Jam™ truck is approximately 10.5 feet tall, 12.5 feet wide, 17 feet long and weighs 12,000 pounds. Their engines generate 1,500 horsepower, thanks to a blower that forces air and fuel into the engine. They run on methanol fuel, consumed at the rates of three gallons a minute from a specially constructed safety cell. The truck utilizes a four-link racing suspension with four main bars that link the front and rear axles to the frame. Clusters of nitrogen charged shocks provide 30 inches of travel in the suspension. The BKT™ tires are 66 inches in diameter and 43 inches wide, inflated to 16-20 psi pressure and each one, including its wheel, weighs over 600 pounds. The driver’s compartment is a steel safety structure, built from tubing and mounted to the truck frame. The truck bodies are custom-built and constructed of fiberglass. Each truck is transported in a specially prepared trailer, which can include spare parts and as many as two trucks. In addition to trucks, the show features ATVs, and speedsters (UTVs) that look like dune buggies.
There are a whole series of events that make up the entire show, but I’m not going to talk about those. If you are interested, you can read all about them by following this link: Monster Jam Info. Suffice it to say there isn’t anything those old trucks can’t do.
One of the things I found most interesting about the whole thing was the atmosphere that surrounded the event. I hadn’t felt anything like it since attending a Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus, back when I was eight or nine years old. Those who follow the sport make up a kind of cult. And, they spend money—lots of it! There were concession stands and vendors everywhere—outside the building, inside the arena, on the floor of the arena, in the stands. Products being sold ranged from cotton candy and caffeine-laced softdrinks to T-shirts and gargoyle-like drinking mugs. We were privileged (for an additional charge, of course) to attend what they call the Pit Party™, where the vehicles are on display in the infield, and drivers are available for pictures and autographs prior to the main event. My granddaughter had her picture taken with two of the drivers.
The other thing that impressed me was how well organized everything was. Provisions were in place to handle any eventuality. If a car’s engine stalled and couldn’t be restarted, there was an allotted amount of time given for a restart, and then, if the engine couldn’t start, an earthmover type of vehicle appeared as if by magic to tow the disabled vehicle to the sidelines. The same occurred whenever a vehicle turned over on its back (at least three trucks did so). Within seconds, the earthmover appeared, a belt with a hook on it was attached to the frame, and the vehicle was righted. There was also a ballet-like routine that was executed flawlessly by every truck to accommodate the other contestants and to make room for the next event. It was truly impressive.
The ages of the attendees ranged from toddlers under three (my granddaughter is four) to octogenarians (I’m 73). There were people dressed in all kinds of attire, from jeans and ski jackets (my choice) to summer shorts and T-shirts, and an equal number of males and females, most walking, but some riding in self-propelled handicap scooters. Although dress preferences varied, there was one piece of equipment that was visible on virtually every single person in the arena: sound protectors worn over their ears to protect them from the 95-100 decibel noise generated by the behometh vehicles.
So, you ask, Would you have ever attended a Monster Jam™ of your own volition? Probably not, I would answer. But am I glad I went? You betcha! And there’s a good chance I’ll probably attend another one, because, after telling my wife about it and sharing some videos of the event, she has made it clear that we’ll be shelling out some hard earned cash to attend another one in the not-so-distant-future—or else I’ll be looking for a divorce lawyer. (Okay, I exaggerate a bit . . . but we’re going. You can make book on it.)
So, how about you? Is there a Monster Jam™ in your future? Come on, you can tell me. I promise I won’t tell . . .