Monster Jam mayhem is a family affair

 

Monster truck driver Adam Anderson, son of the creator of the infamous monster truck Grave Digger, talks shop about growing up surrounded by the roar of engines.

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By Michael Hamersly | mikehamersly@gmail.com

Gentlemen, start your engines! The heart-racing roar of 1,500-horsepower engines will never seem louder than at Saturday night’s Monster Jam, which rolls into Sun Life Stadium with more gargantuan trucks geared up for maximum destruction than ever before.

Eighteen drivers of the world’s most famous Monster Trucks – each 12 feet tall, 12 feet wide, weighing at least five tons and perched atop 66-inch tires – will gather to show off their racing and freestyle skills in breathtaking, steel-crushing fashion. Riding on the wide-open track inside the stadium will be world champion Grave Digger, Wolverine, El Diablo, Mohawk Warrior, El Toro Loco, Blue Thunder, Stone Crusher, Hooked, War Wizard, Gunslinger, Razin' Kane, Ice Cream Man, Predator, Prowler, Black Stallion and Extreme Overkill, plus the Miami debut of two trucks, Captain America and Grave Digger The Legend.

These are ominous monikers to be sure, names of war that promise mayhem and acts of malevolence. But although the action out on the dirt track might be intense, it’s also all in good fun. No, really.

“Monster Jam is probably one of the world’s greatest entertainment/motor sports events to go see, for the entire family,” says Adam Anderson, son of Monster Truck pioneer Dennis Anderson, who conceived of and built the infamous Grave Digger. “It’s not just great entertainment for adults – it’s for kids and grandparents, too, and anybody can go out there and have a great time.”

Anderson, who became the youngest Monster Jam World Champion in 2008 at age 22, will be driving Grave Digger The Legend, a truck based on the classic design of his father’s creation.

“It’s actually a retro version of what Grave Digger looked like in 1983,” he says. “It’s a 1951 Ford panel truck, just a simple plain-Jane, like an old, hot rodder-style.”

Anderson’s homage to dear old Dad masks a bit of a cheeky competitive streak. Although he credits his father for helping him learn the ropes, he can’t help but throw in a sly little dig.

“I lived next to the shop where Grave Digger has been probably for the past 20 years, and it was just like a normal thing for me,” he says. “But I didn’t know what was going on until I went to the events with my father and watched all those years growing up – not just him, but all of the guys. And I guess you could say I learned from their mistakes, really, and tried to improve on that.

“And my dad used to get so mad when I was a little boy and I would tell him what he was doing wrong. But he’d get mad at me because he knew I was right.”

Although Anderson says his father “brought the sport to what it is today,” a new crop of drivers is pushing the skill level even higher, flying 130 feet (clearing 14 cars) and jumping 35 feet into the air. And Anderson’s stretching the boundaries even further.

 “A lot of people are able to land back flips, so there’s this thing I’m doing now that I’m calling the Adam Bomb,” he says. “As soon as you go up the back-flip ramp, you kind of do like a whip – a tail-whip and a back flip at the same time with the truck. I’ve only attempted two of them, and I landed one, but the truck broke and I couldn’t keep going on. And the second one was even bigger and better, but it didn’t quite make it [laughs]. But it’s so spectacular – if you make it, you’re a hero, and if you crash, you’re still a hero. So it’s not too bad.”

Still, amid all the flashy new tricks, Anderson says his father’s old-school technique will never go out of style.

“My dad has always called himself a “carnage” driver – he drives the truck until it’s at the end, you know? He’s never gotten away from that, and he’s never going to, because he tears it up for the people, man – he crashes it every time. And it’s kind of rubbing off on me now. I know what the people want - they come to see the carnage, the crash, and we’re gonna give it to ‘em every time.”

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