Monster Jam – Return to boyhood wonder

As stated in an earlier post, I ventured back in time this weekend as I stepped into Lucas Oil Stadium to rekindle my childhood love affair with Monster Trucks.  And yes, that deserves to be capitalized.  My condescending friends however, were yet to be convinced.  As I attempted to use logic during the drive to downtown Indianapolis, I just couldn’t get them to admit they were excited and looking forward to the night’s festivities.  “Why do people like to watch racing?” I asked.  For the possibility of seeing “the big one” – a huge wreck wiping out half the field.  So what is not to like about an event specifically designed to give audiences just what they want…mass carnage??

Arriving late and entering the gate just as qualifying for the racing portion was getting under way, we quickly scuttled to our seats.  While snaking through the arena during the trek to our section, I couldn’t help but notice the announcer make a comment about Grave Digger pulling off the track.  Super.  After laboring up the most ridiculous incline of stairs ever known to man, we plopped down in our seats just as the pre-game entertainment was wrapping up and the first pairing of trucks were approaching the starting lines to begin the tournament style single-elimination racing bracket.  Panting and sweating, we stripped off our jackets and tried to catch our breath before it was pounded out of our lungs from the raw energy created by 600 hp man-made wonders-of-the-world. 

Racing was under way, and arguably the most well-known and popular truck in the world was in the pits getting the rear end taken out.  There were still plenty of trucks left to entertain, but they’re just not the same.  The final races pitted the usual suspects against one another: Maximum Destruction, Bounty Hunter, Superman, Black Stallion, and new-comer Lucas Oil Crusader (who managed to pull the upset of the evening – insert conspiracy theories here).  All went off without too much excitement minus a save that included not one, but two, near rollovers by the same truck in a 5 second span.  As the driver entered a turn with entirely too much speed, inertia and physics kicked in causing the truck to roll over onto 2 wheels.  Once the truck was flat on the side of its rims, the driver quickly counter-steered and stood on the throttle preventing the monstrous vehicle from rolling completely onto its roof.  It did, however, cause the truck to slingshot in the other direction immediately rolling onto the opposite wheels, garnering the same reaction from the driver.  This time, with a little more subtlety, the truck was righted with no damage other than blowing a tire off of its massive rim. 

While we waited for the arena to be rearranged for the freestyle portion of the night, we were blessed with the display of a freestyle motocross group pulling off insane stunts 45 feet over the stadium’s floor.  During this intermission, I decided to brave the stairway to heaven and conquered it by returning just in the nick of time with nachos and a Coke.  The group I was with had been fairly unimpressed up to this point, but I assured them it was just getting good.  Freestyle opened up with the bottom-feeders of the line-up, and my friends were still not on the edge of their seats.  That’s when, during another quick rearrangement, we looked down and noticed they had placed a motor home in the path of destruction.  What?!  Yes, that there’s a RV.  The competition instantly sky-rocketed to enthralling.  The recreational vehicle was quickly transformed into splinters as Monster Truck after Monster Truck jumped over, smashed into, and spun out on the wood chipped remains.  Once the driver’s started testing the physical limits of their trucks, the mechanical failures started picking off the beasts one by one.

The Michigan Ice Monster limped around the course with the left rear wheel locked up and some superficial cosmetic damage to the rear of the fiberglass body…like, it wasn’t even there. 

MOST of the Michigan Ice Monster

The Iron Outlaw ran into some steering issues after landing hard and awkward on the front end causing what appeared to be the tie-rod snapping like a twig.

Maybe just a little too much toe-in on the front tires.

Superman managed to find a way to wedge himself on the edge of a bright blue bus, then blew his engine while pointlessly revving the not-so-super powered truck to the point of oblivion. 

I thought kryptonite was supposed to be green?

 The Lucas Oil Crusader obviously failed high school physics by not realizing that Monster Trucks and momentum do not go well together when not moving in a straight line. Hence, he spent some time upside down in his truck to think about things for a little while. 

Just sit there and think about where you went wrong...

Cue George Thorogood and the Destroyers.  As “Bad To The Bone” pumped through Lucas Oil’s sound system, two red headlights lit up the entrance to one of the corner tunnels leading to the arena floor.  A split second later, the black and green motorized undertaker came roaring out with the familiar jolly roger flag flapping in the breeze to a deafening ovation from a very appreciative capacity audience.  Grave Digger’s pit crew and mechanics had spent the last 2 hours feverishly dropping the rear-end out of the truck and replacing it with a spare to try to save face in front of 70,000 screaming fans.  And boy howdy, did they ever save face!  Charlie Pauken piloted that old panel van with mastery going straight from one monstrous jump to the next.  He jumped over sections of the course where there were no ramps, landing off balance, completely barrel-rolling the truck and ending up on all fours, just to smash the throttle and pick up right where he left off.  Just in case anyone missed it, moments later he did it all over again!  Grave Digger’s night came to a satisfying end when his engine failed. 
While the arena staff was clearing the crippled Grave Digger, one final RV made its entrance onto the track especially for the final participant of the evening.  The gold and black futuristic SUV roared to life as Tom Meents and Maximum Destruction rocketed out of the corner they had been waiting patiently in.  Max D soared over a few ramps getting massive air, but his night came to a premature end when he blew a hydraulic line upon smashing into the earth from a sky-high jump.  The fans were a little disappointed, but seemed understanding that you just can’t drive machines that hard and not expect some technical difficulties. 
When all was said and done, my friend’s reactions were all I was waiting for.  After seeing them clap and yell wildly with a look of amazement in their eyes, I knew their stance on attending such a low-brow event was starting to soften.  While crawling out of the building at a snail’s pace, the public address announcer made the comment about tickets for Monster Jam 2012.  We looked at each other and already knew…Hell yes!
Thank you, that is all.

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