As a kid growing up in rural southern Indiana, I remember looking forward to county fair season. There was so much to get amped up about: towering rides, neon lights, ultra-challenging games, fair food (elephant ears and taffy), and that was just on a regular night at the fair. That’s enough to get any 10 year-old hyped up beyond his wildest dreams, then your parents tell you to grab some earplugs, because tonight there’s going to be MONSTER TRUCKS!
What?! Trucks sitting on top of 10 foot tires crushing anything and everything in sight?! Yes, please! My first experience with these wonderous vehicles began by having my picture taken while standing in Bigfoot’s wheel-well…yes, STANDING. (Mind you, I was a wee lad at the time, but what I wouldn’t give to find that old picture lying around my parent’s house.) This experience naturally led to my infatuation with monster truck rallies and paved the way for the next several years of my adolescent life. On a yearly basis, my best friend and I would hop in his mom’s van and head to Roberts Stadium with Pit Passes in hand. That’s right, Pit Passes. It wasn’t enough to sit in the stands and admire these things of beauty from a distance while sitting in awe at the mass carnage taking place on the arena floor. No. We had Pit Passes. We got to go out before the show started, meet the drivers, and get up close and personal with the most amazing trucks I had ever seen or imagined in my young life. Man, what I wouldn’t give to be allowed to climb into the driver’s seat of one of those beasts, strap in, punch the gas, and point the hood of the truck straight up into the air! But I was a mere mortal boy. I wasn’t born from the loins of a superhuman. I could never be lucky enough to operate such a beautiful behemoth like Overkill.
Luckily, the following night at the fair was demolition derby night! Now this was something I could relate to and aspire for. Regular, average Joe’s putting uncountable hours of work into vehicles that are intended to be driven straight into other cars. Sign me up for that! After sitting in the grandstands going crazy for friends of the family, I knew this was meant for me. I was so jealous to see all those guys (and even a few women too) strapping on their helmets, climbing in the busted out driver-side window “Dukes Of Hazzard” style because their doors had to be welded shut, and firing up heavily modified engines fortified to withstand head-on collisions. Then it was time to start the countdown from 10 to start the first heat to see who would make it to the feature at the end of the night and drive for the trophy. That’s right, the crowd determines when these guys let off the brake and slammed the pedal to the metal! How much more power could a kid hope to possess at such an astonishing event?! Each year, you could only HOPE to see somebody’s engine catch on fire. Or for some poor sucker to get rammed up onto one of the barriers, possibly flipping his car onto its roof. Needless to say, I never got the opportunity to take part in such an honorable occasion.
When I mentioned these experiences to my college friends from the city, they laughed at the amazement that sparkled in my eye. They called me a country bumpkin, hillbilly, and redneck. I dared them to put down their inhibitions and consider one thing. When they drive past the scene of an accident on the interstate, do they rubberneck trying to get a peek at the damage? Do they tap the brake and gawk all the way by the unfortunate, now stranded motorists that have no way to continue on their travels? Imagine being in a place where the sole purpose of every vehicle in sight was to destroy all the others. Is my fascination starting to come into focus now?
This Saturday, I get to rekindle those feelings when I step foot in Lucas Oil Stadium for Monster Jam! Looking back on those fair days, I clearly realize that the things I got so excited about when I was 10, are a little troubling in this day and age. The neon lights I mentioned? Buzzing with radiation. The towering rides? Unfit in a third world country, and I would never imagine them passing a safety inspection. Ultra-challenging games? Try rigged. Just a ploy to get you to spend a buck for some plush toy that’s filled with crumpled up newspaper that will scratch and poke you if you ever won one to hug and cuddle with. Fair food? Still delicious…if you can get past the artery clogging grease and calories that are packed into every succulent bite! With these sad realizations in mind, why bother getting my hopes up for this weekend? Because they’re still trucks with over-sized tires that soar 30 feet in the air off of ramps leading into strings of cars lined up for unadulterated destruction. That’s why.
Oh! And my friends who called me “hillbilly?” They’ll be sitting right next to me.
An update will follow this weekend, along with pictures.
Thank you, that is all.