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Monster Jam trucks show flash and dash

By on September 8, 2015
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Flying across the area in a blur of turbocharged beauty, one Monster Jam truck after another performs a series of wheelies, donuts and backflips. The excitement builds with each car mercilessly crushed in their wake.

Adding to the effect are the eye-popping, jaw-dropping designs of today’s fleet, which continues to push the boundaries of strength and style. The audience response has been overwhelming.

“Fans now don’t want to see a plain Ford or Chevy vehicle; they want to see a concept design,” says Henry Cross, senior director of operations for Feld Motor Sports.

Made of fiberglass, a Monster Jam truck body is custom-designed with airbrushed artwork to create a character or theme for the truck. Airbrushing often requires more than 40 hours of paint time — but that’s only the start of it.

“Most of the Monster Jam truck bodies are hand-painted by an artist,” Cross says. “The artwork on a Monster Jam truck has to look good for fans along the front row and in the upper deck.”

Monster Jam truck drivers set the bar high for themselves and their dirt-track companions. These designs have become a creative form of expression while adding a bit of friendly competition.

“It’s the design concept that sets one driver apart from another,” he says. “They all want to have the weirdest, baddest, most tricked-out truck. But it has to run well, too.”

Racing ahead

So what does it take to build a Monster Jam truck that has both style and function? It’s a delicate balance of handmade craft and new technologies.

“It’s easy to make them pretty; it’s hard to make them last,” Cross says.

It may take years to form the mold of the Monster Jam truck, with body fabricators providing input through every step of the process. New software has helped improve vehicle designs and safety technology.

“We’re constantly in research and development mode,” he says. “Now we have computer design programs that can reproduce an image of the Monster Jam truck and help us know how to replace bars, tubes and other features.”

The animated patterns and 3-D applications of today’s Monster Jam trucks have attracted worldwide attention — but the driver’s ability to compete remains the most important thing.

“We want to give the driver every opportunity to perform,” he says. “Our biggest emphasis is on doing a great job for the fans.”

Dragon
Introduced in 2014, Dragon is one of the fiercest looking in the entire fleet, with spikes jutting through its skin, long horns curling back atop its skull and angled fins slicing the air. Scott Liddycoat from Suffolk, Virginia, tames the beast week in and week out on the Monster Jam tour.

Zombie
At the end of 2012, Monster Jam asked the fans what truck they wanted to see, and Zombie made the cut. In 2013, Zombie was picked to come back from the afterworld and into Monster Jam reality. Driver Sean Duhon can be seen at every Monster Jam event in full Zombie makeup, and it didn’t take long for the fans to do the same!

Scooby-Doo
The world famous mystery-solving cartoon canine came to Monster Jam in 2013, driven by Las Vegas native Nicole Johnson, one of Monster Jam’s rising superstars. Scooby-Doo, instantly recognizable as the snack-loving Great Dane, joins fellow Warner Bros character-themed trucks modeled on Superman and Batman.

El Toro Loco
The custom-built bull and its raging style was introduced to Monster Jam fans in 2001. Leading the way for the El Toro Loco team is Monster Jam veteran Lupe Soza, a native of Banquete, Texas, who has been driving Monster Jam trucks since 1988.

Mohawk Warrior
In 2010, Mohawk Warrior joined the Monster Jam fleet. It was the first truck to be adorned with a jet-black, razor-sharp mohawk. Chosen to command this truck was none other than George Balhan, leader of the Mohawk nation. Balhan, who hails from Chicago, joined Monster Jam in 2003.

Max-D
Officially classified as a “futuristic SUV,” Max-D burst onto the Monster Jam scene in 2003 with one of the most successful competitors in Monster Jam history behind the wheel, Tom Meents. Meents calls Paxton, Illinois, home and has been driving Monster Jam trucks since 1993.

NUTS AND BOLTS

Since 2005, Monster Jam has toured throughout the United States, Canada and Europe. Get your engine roaring with these fun facts about the world’s premier monster truck event.

  • Attendance at Monster Jam events exceeds 4 million fans annually, with more than 350 performances throughout the year
  • An average of 3,000 cars are crushed every year
  • Monster Jam Trucks must weigh between 10,000-12,000 pounds
  • Tires must be 66 inches high (5.5 feet) and 43 inches wide (3.5 feet)
  • Fuel economy of Monster Jam Trucks is about 7 gallons per mile (no, not miles per gallon)
  • Water trucks are on standby with up to 2,000 gallons of water to keep dust to a minimum

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