Every Winter, Monster Jam brings high flying excitement to audiences of all ages. The competition among the monster trucks is thrilling. It’s a show I never miss
By Aaron Hanania
A 10,000 pound truck jumping over 20 feet in the air is definitely unique, almost impossible. To have a show dedicated to that… now that is one show you must see.
Every year, my dad and I go to the All State Arena in Rosemont Illinois for Monster Jam. Monster Jam is a sport that monster trucks compete in. A monster truck is a modified truck with a huge engine. The truck is usually 10-12 feet tall with 6 foot tall tires. One truck costs on average $250,000. They have a fiberglass exterior that is custom made. From far away, they look really perfect, but as you get closer you realize often some of the trucks bodies are hand painted. Another distinct ability of a monster truck is that the front and back wheels can each be controlled. They use the back wheels to help with sharp turns.
We go to the 1:00 pm show. We get there at about 9 am to wait … no we freeze outside until 10 am for the pit party to start. It’s always cold in Chicagoland in February. Can’t blame Monster Jam for that.
The pit party or Party In the Pits, which costs extra, is where they have the trucks on display and the drivers standing next to their truck signing autographs. At large stadiums, you wait in many lines for each driver. In Chicago, since the arena is so small, they have the drivers at one table signing autographs. I like it this way because you can save time and see each and every driver. It also allows for a better experience seeing the trucks because it is less crowded. The drivers are pretty nice people who love to be with the fans. If you ask them questions they will happily answer. And you can take pictures with them, too.
After the pit party, the people who came only for the show arrive. That’s when the seats start to fill up. Then the ATV’s race for a bit. Then the 1st competition, the wheelie competition begins.
To win the wheelie competition, a driver must get the highest score of 2 wheelies. Starting in 2015, the drivers could do 4 wheelies at the dirt center obstacle. When we went they got to do one wheelie on each set of crush car piles. The more vertical usually the better the score. In 2013, Bounty Hunter did such a great wheelie he got stuck on top of the cars facing upwards for 10 minutes. Of course he won. The secret to doing a great wheelie: go really fast, slam on the brakes right in front of a car, and then accelerate again.
After the wheelies, the trucks then race against each other in Chicago Style format. Simply put, they start out on opposite corners of the track and go around the track twice each. On the second lap, the first truck to cross the middle line wins. Usually the drivers give their racing trophy to the fans … how nice.
After the racing comes BMX bikes or a special performance — the special surprise performance changes year to year. In 2014, we had Robosaurus … a robot dinosaur that eats, tears and burns crushed cars. I don’t know why, but he did not do his fire breathing in Chicago, but Robosaurus can do fire. That part of the show was not loud, but pretty awesome.
The final part of the show and everybody’s favorite is freestyle. The trucks get 1 minute to do whatever they want to get points. They can hit the obstacles from any direction. It is a free-for-all for a minute. Everybody loves it because they can jump over 10 feet in the air off of a single car. It really showcases their talent.
I go to Monster Jam every year and I love it every time. I would recommend you get the yearbook so the drivers can sign their pages. It only costs $15.
With Monster Jam, you do not need front row seats, because the trucks are so large. I like to be at the back row so I can stand up and see over peoples heads. The farther back, the more you can see… but the closer the bigger the trucks seem.
A very important thing about monster jam is the noise. Yes, it can get very loud at times, so definitely bring ear buds or headphones … they will help! The trucks sound like semi-trucks and race cars at the same time but much louder. I used to think it was way too loud, but last year I did not need my headphones. It was for the freestyle and racing when they floor it that it gets pretty loud.
Driving a monster truck is not as easy as it seems. Some may compare it to catching a large fish fighting back. The drivers have to be able to steer and use the gear/rear wheel drive at the same time. They have to be aware of where they are on the floor especially during wheelies. Their floor is clear so they can see below the truck when they are in the air. When the truck rolls over, the driver has to be able to get out of the truck. The steering wheel can be removed to make more room. Some drivers start a donut and remove the wheel to showcase their talent. A donut is when a truck spins around in circles continually.
If you have little kids, monster jam is a thing for you because what little kid does not like cars being crushed by a large thing that makes a not of noise. You cannot fully understand the sport until you see it when they come to a city near you. The larger stadiums are even better because they go higher and try harder … trust me its really cool in a big stadium and also in a smaller stadium.