If you’ve ever wondered what it’d be like to witness Roman gladiators tear each other’s hearts out on a stage drenched in pyrotechnics and screaming guitar riffs, but, like, in a family-friendly kind of way with a side of AMERICA, go check out a monster truck show.
This list could begin with 1: Have You Seen A Monster Truck? followed by 2.-9: Seriously, They’re Amazing. But I’m still so starry-eyed from watching Max D double front-flip that I just want to spend more time writing about the mad spectacle that is monster truck “racing.”
1. You don’t have to care about cars
Staring at a corner of tarmac for hours watching cars that sound like TIE fighters whizz by can be a tough sell on your friends, family, and significant others that couldn’t give two craps about cars anyway.
But everybody loves watching things get crushed... and don’t worry, there will be crushing at a monster truck show.
2. Family friendly
When I witnessed Monster Jam’s “Path Of Destruction” show, a delightfully apt name I’m happy to confirm, MetLife Stadium was probably about half-full of kids under twelve. Organizers understand this, and do a great job putting on a decidedly wild show without cussin’ or fake blood or awkwardly sexualized performers.
3. Refreshingly not sexist
...speaking of which, I was pleasantly surprised at the absence of grid girls. In fact three women took to the track in their own trucks out of a twenty-person competition at Monster Jam, a better ratio than any other professional motorsport contest I’ve ever seen. And when those female driver’s profile pictures went up on the Jumbotron, they even got to keep their racing suits zipped all the way up.
My girlfriend especially appreciated seeing the glass ceiling smashed by 66” tires and yours probably will too.
4. Completely over-the-top theatrics
Monster trucks do timed races, but the main attraction events are basically scored like a college bar “battle of the bands.” The trucks have theme songs, personas, character. We saw zombies, soldiers, Scooby Doo... it’s like Halloween for cars.
Take Candice Jolly and Taryn Laskey. They race a rig called the Monster Mutt Dalmatian, which has spots and dog ears and a tail and an animatronic wagging tongue. Before they started their freestyle lap, somebody threw a giant bone and the truck went charging after it. If that doesn’t make you smile, you might be a robot.
A bunch of enormous trucks. A big dusty pit full of jumps and sacrificial cars. It’s like watching all your childhood sandbox fantasies come to life right before your eyes!
Sometimes the monster trucks do back flips and slides and donuts, sometimes they take one jump and blow the axle off the frame. You get to yell at the stage either way.
6. It’s not over when you crash
Monster truck competitions are generally short timed runs (laps?) where each truck gets 90 seconds to go nuts and impress the judges. Your favorite guy (or girl!) can crash and burn 30 seconds in and still take home the trophy if it’s an amazing enough 30 seconds. The sport rewards showmanship like no other automotive event I’ve ever seen.
7. No bad seats
My date and I had literally the cheapest seats in the stadium, because obviously, and we still had a great view of the whole field. We also still needed shooting range earplugs, so, keep that in mind when you head to your first show.
Unfortunately those “cheap seats” were still $40 a piece, and after we paid $20 to park, $20 for beers, I could have taken my lady out to a nice dinner instead. But we wouldn’t have seen CAR CRUSHING at some dumb fancy-pants restaurant, right babe?!?
8. Tracks are accessible
Car racing takes place at race tracks, many of which are not on train or bus lines. Off-road racing requires even more commitment to properly spectate, and not everyone’s up for camping in the desert. But monster trucks throw down in stadiums like the one the last Super Bowl was held, so at least you have the possibility of getting there by some form of public transit.
9. No attention span, no problem
Events shift from quick parallel laps (kind of looks like barrel-racing, but with trucks the size of houses instead of horses) to donut contests to exhibition jumps to... yeah, you’re gonna have to rock-paper-scissors for who makes the beer run because you won’t want to miss any of this.
10. The stars love the fans
At Monster Jam, you can buy a pre-show “pit pass” for $15 to get a good look at the vehicles and hang out with the drivers. (They also respond to tweets and tags on Instagram!) You won’t get that kind of access at Formula One.
Pyrotechnics might seem egregious at an event full of cars that catch fire “naturally,” and it is. And it’s awesome.
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