Monster Jam brings the big trucks back to battle

If you’ve ever sat with your blood boiling in bumper-to-bumper, rush-hour traffic and fantasized about simply driving overtop the offending cars that block your path, you might find this weekend at the BankAtlantic Center particularly refreshing, even therapeutic. The Advance Auto Parts Monster Jam crashes its way into the Sunrise arena Friday and Saturday night, featuring some of the world’s biggest and baddest trucks (and they are massive, at 12 feet wide and 12 feet tall) creating a crazy amount of chaos and carnage that even your road-rage-riddled mind could hardly conjure up.
Not familiar with monster trucks? They weigh at least five tons, sit atop 66-inch tires and have scary names such as Gunslinger, Grinder, Monster Mutt, Superman and Grave Digger, and can fly more than 100 feet and reach speeds up to 100 mph.
For newcomers, “it’s gonna be one of the most exciting things you’ve ever seen,” says Sean Duhon, who has been driving Superman for about a year. “Ten thousand-pound trucks, 12 feet wide, crushing cars that don’t stand a chance. And there’s nothing that can stop us – we’re just gonna demolish everything.”
It’s not all just a random crash-and-burn demolition derby, however. There’s structure to the shows, and the drivers show off some pretty sweet skills.
“We’ll probably start with the wheelie contest, where all the trucks go out and hit the cars and see how high we can get the nose to stand up,” says Duhon. “The more vertical the better – the higher we get, the more the crowd gets into it.”
Then comes racing, followed by the donut contest, which should delight every high-school meathead with a lead foot, an empty lawn and no conscience.
“That usually gets pretty exciting, because you never know where that truck’s gonna spin to,” says Duhon.
Capping it all off is the freestyle showcase, “which is everybody’s favorite,” says Duhon. “Everything’s out on the floor, and whatever they put out there, we’re gonna hit, and just destroy it. And at the end of the night, hopefully everybody had a good time and enjoyed the show.”
All this destruction comes naturally for Duhon, who has been a fan of the Superman truck since he can remember (“When they asked me if I’d drive Superman, I think I jumped as high as Superman can fly”).
“When I was a kid I’d destroy all my toys, and I was always the mischievous kid,” he says. “My parents were always on me and always had to watch me, and now that I’m behind the wheel of a monster truck, I get to destroy stuff and people actually enjoy watching it.”
Gary Porter, a 27-year monster-truck vet who started off with his Carolina Crusher and is now one of eight drivers of the infamous Grave Digger originated by Dennis Anderson, feels he’s got a target on his back.
“Oh, absolutely, all the time. Everybody’s out to beat Grave Digger, because it is the most popular and it gets the loudest cheers,” he says. “We’re supposed to go all-out, we’re supposed to put a smile on the fans’ faces, and we’re supposed to drive a sort of no-holds-barred-type driving style.”
That style will send the trucks into the air at least 20 feet inside the BankAtlantic Center, and as high as 35 feet in an open-air venue.
“You’re in the air long enough where you can look over to the left and to the right and see what the fans are doing and see if the fans are like, “Wow!” or if they’re sittin’ in their seats kind of bored,” says Porter. “And if they are, then you’d better step it up a little bit.”
As dangerous as all this flying around might sound, it’s actually pretty safe. Relatively speaking, of course.
“Anything’s dangerous,” says Porter. “It’s dangerous walking across the floor from one room to the next sometimes. But the trucks are very safe, and when I take my family to an event, they sit in front-row seats. Accidents happen, but you better believe every precaution is taken to keep them from happening. The trucks are so safe inside that I feel a lot safer driving that monster truck at those events than I do driving down the interstate.”


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