Donut, Wheelie, Flip, a gravity-defying world
Monster trucks have been entertaining the masses since the seventies. It’s a motorsport that combines a potent combination of destruction and showmanship. It’s rough and ready, honest and down to earth, occupying a very different end of the motorsport spectrum to Formula One or Nascar.
The roots of the sport come from mud bogging and tractor pulling, where modified pick up trucks were created with supersized suspension and tires. As the sport grew in popularity, technology advanced and the trucks are now formed around a fiberglass SUV chassis measuring a mammoth ten feet tall by twelve feet wide, weighing between 9,000 -12,500 pounds.
Up close, these Frankenstein vehicles overwhelm the senses. The ground vibrates in their presence. The intoxicating smell of methanol and the ear-deafening roar of the engine stop you in your tracks. Plumes of dust and smoke emerge as the ignition is turned, leaving you in a state of awe and fear. Their sheer scales dwarfs everything in sight. The U.K is the latest country to be enamoured by the sport. In September thousands of fans poured into the Principality Stadium to watch Maz-D, El Toro Loco and Grave Digga tear up the tracks.
The highlight of the sport’s calendar is the Monster Jam Championship. Trucks compete in two events, a speed race and a freestyle competition. Drivers perform donuts, wheelies, flips and jumps. They use huge ramps to get excessive air and create explosive action. As they crush stacks of buses and cars, fans of all ages go wild as the carnage unfolds.
The pathway into the sport happens in a myriad of ways, some transition from riding dirt bikes, some come through working behind the scenes. Twenty-seven year old Ryan Anderson from Kill Devil Hills in North Carolina was born into the sport. His Father Dennis Anderson, creator and driver of ‘Grave Digga’ was one of the first people to pursue Monster Trucks as a successful career. He recently retired making way for Ryan, driver of ‘Son-Uva Digger’ to take the reigns. “There is nothing like it!” says Ryan “I have been fortunate enough to try a lot of wild things in my life, and nothing beats the adrenaline rush of driving my truck in front of thousands of people. Many of our tricks are risky in the sense that if you don’t land the trick, anything can happen. I try to save the dangerous stuff for the end of competition so even if I crash everyone loves it. I want keep driving until I can hand the keys to my son, Race Anderson”.
The sport is as much about people, as it is about engineering. The drivers are the face of the sport and their personalities are playfully mimicked in their truck design. For them, the sport is a way of life. They are constantly on the road, introducing the sport to new cultures. The fear and adrenaline keeps them motivated, always looking to up the ante at the next show. Although the sport is growing in popularity year on year, for me the appeal of Monster Trucks is that they will always be the loud, disruptive underdog of the genre.
PHOTOS Greg White
TEXT AND ART DIRECTION Gemma Fletcher
February 21, 2020
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