A Sport with True Power
by Amy Lignor
Grave Digger. Northern Nightmare. Titan. Wrecking Crew. Wolverine…
This may sound like the guest list for a party thrown by Satan or, perhaps, an annual picnic thrown by the Transformers. Truth be told, what it really is all about has to do with a sport that many (millions, in fact) watch that is not the NBA. As we know in this country after the NFL wraps up, a funk settles. There are other sports but…they are endless games that seem to take forever to actually get to the playoffs which is when fans actually become interested in what’s going on. However, the sights and sounds are bright and loud right now because there is the Monster Jam coming up, which means Grave Digger is once again taking center stage.
For those who are unaware and need something to watch that is all about power, Monster Jam is a live motorsport event that goes on tour. There are individual events that can provide entertainment, but the coolest to watch always comes down to the racing and freestyle competitions. These shows are held throughout the entire year, yet seem to come to the screen full-force when the AFC and NFC bid adieu until August.
The Monster Jam is also a whole lot of fun for fans. Unlike the NFL, it is easy for fans to meet the drivers who hold “Pit Parties” so their fans can gain autographs. Not to mention, the memorabilia and racing gifts at these Monster Jam events are awesome.
When it comes to the Monster Jam’s own Super Bowl, it is held in, where else, Las Vegas, Nevada. The Racing and Freestyle Championships are held at the Sam Boyd Stadium in Vegas and only the most elite monster trucks get to compete. When it comes to the “competitions” they offer up wheelie competitions or donut contests. For the wheelie event, fans get to watch their monster truck star hit a ramp and gain major air while trying to keep the truck perpendicular to the ground. When it comes to the donut event, drivers spin their trucks until the machine or the driver calls it quits. Racing is fairly easy to explain: the monster trucks race side-by-side and the first one crossing the finish line continues on to the next round until the best monster truck wins it all.
What most really believe is that the “best of the best” comes in the freestyle competition where drivers can do exactly what they want for 90+ seconds in order to show off their master skills behind the wheel, doing end-over-end flips, jumps, and more. The winner takes home the coveted “Double Down” trophy, which is certainly suitably named for Las Vegas.
The most popular name when asking about the monster trucks – whether it be a fan or simply a person who loves sports in general – is still Grave Digger. In fact, since 1981, Grave Digger has been the most popular name in the world of monster truck racing. It was the lead driver and creator of the machine, Dennis Anderson, who saw its popularity and decided there had to be more than one Grave Digger to be driven, so the truck can appear at multiple events at the same time across the country. Anderson did sell the Grave Digger on to USA Motor Sports after being in charge for 17 years, but still drives for the company in 2016. Powered by a 555 cubic inch Merlin engine rated at 1700 horsepower, this is a machine that never gets boring to watch.
Bigfoot is also a part of the top three most well know monster trucks. It is also the original to be introduced to the world back in 1979. Owned and operated by Bob Chandler, this is “the” truck that coined the now well-known term “Monster Truck,” and was used in all kinds of ads and promo when it came to selling the idea of driving large, well-painted, mean-looking “monsters” over junk cars. In 2016, looking back on history, there have been 21 Bigfoots driven and it will certainly never go out of style.
The third most talked about is a newer monster truck: Maximum Destruction. The circuit saw this “monster” in 2003 and it instantly became one of the most successful and popular “beasts” in the world. Starting life under the much tamer name, “Goldberg,” for the wrestling world, Maximum Destruction took over and is actually the inspiration for the very first aerial backflip, which it landed, and is one of the highest rated competitors in the world.
So, shake those NFL blues by watching some true power racing, flipping, spinning, and breathtaking talents and skills that no average driver would even attempt. Next World Finals, XVII, is coming up soon, being held in Las Vegas March 17–19, 2016. Will Grave Digger be the “in” name once again? Or will a strange “monster” come from nowhere and take home that “Double Down?”
Place your bets!