Well, maybe not literally, but the vibrations shaking the Kentucky State Fairgrounds Friday night were reminiscent of the roof-removing 1974 tornado. An enthusiastic crowd of seven thousand fans made almost as much noise as the huge trucks jumping through the air at the first performance of the Advance Auto Parts Monster Jam  event. Tickets are still available for Saturday’s performance. (CLICK HERE )
Eight of the biggest, meanest Monster Trucks competed in several heats for high scores and a victor’s trophy. The clear crowd-favorite, Carl Van Horn, driving Grave Digger®, excelled in every event. His fans celebrated his wins by waiving small replicas of his lucky “jolly roger” skull and crossbones black flag. Snow cones in commemorative skull mugs were popular vendor items.
Only slightly less popular with the audience were Greg Winchenbach, driving Crushstation, and Nicole Johnson, behind the wheel of Scooby-Doo™. With an elongated pink fuselage designed to look like a giant lobster, Crushstation flew through the jumps like some monster from the deep. And Scooby-Doo, replete with a big black nose and wagging tail, elicited cries of “ruh roh!” each time Mrs. Johnson pushed the powerful tuck into an almost vertical leap up the dirt ramp and over the top of the brightly-painted carcasses of wrecked automobiles.
By the way, don't think of Nicole Johnson as just a pretty face in Advance Auto Parts Monster Jam. This mother of two has a lengthy list of motorsports accomplishments on her resume. She has 17 years of four wheeling experience in her past and she has excelled in rock crawling competitions, which she first undertook as a professional in 2005. Not only has she been a big winner in the Western US rock crawling series, Johnson has also driven in short course racing on the Lucas Oil Off Road Series. Along with being a success on the track, Nicole Johnson relishes being a role model for the youth and brings her positive message to fans of Advance Auto Parts Monster Jam, and she especially focuses that message on the children, encouraging the sport's young fans to take care of themselves and make the right decisions. Johnson tells the young fans at events to respect themselves, respect others, and to know that they can achieve anything that they want if they make the right decisions and work hard for what they want.
Between the Monster Truck heats, fans were entertained by eight 4-wheeled ATVs, racing over a motocross circuit. The halftime show featured two giant—and marvelously realistic—transformers, in a battle to the death. The “good” transformer eventually defeated the “evil” machine, with flame and explosions; to the excited squeals of the thousands of kids watching.
On Saturday, the gates open at 6:30 p.m., and the show starts at 7:30 p.m. Dedicated fans will want to avoid the lines, skip the crowds and enjoy VIP access with the Total Access Pass for the Advance Auto Parts Monster Jam. A very limited number of these coveted passes are still available, at $65 each. Each Total Access Pass includes:
- One (1) event ticket to the January 26th 7:30PM event in the best seats in the house
- Exclusive access to drivers with a private meet and greet from 4:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m.
Total Access Pass - $65 All Seats
Adults - $25 / Kids (ages 2 -12) $5
All tickets $2 more day of show.
Tickets are available at the Freedom Hall Box Office, all Ticketmaster Retail Outlets, online at www.Ticketmaster.com  or Charge by Phone at 800-745-3000.
Monster Size Numbers
Trucks: Usually 12 feet tall and about 12 feet wide, a monster truck must weigh a minimum of 10,000 pounds, with some Monster Trucks weighing as much as 12,000 pounds. The less the body weighs, the more strength and weight can be put into the frame and engine without sacrificing speed and maneuverability. Average cost: $250.000.
Engines: Custom-built, supercharged and methanol-injected, a monster truck engine burns up to 2.5 gallons of methanol per run. The size of the motor is limited to 575 cubic feet of displacement. The average monster truck team will go through five engines in one year. Average cost per engine: $50,000.
Body: Made of fiberglass, a monster truck body is custom designed. A fiberglass company generally owns the mold to the design. Average initial cost: $15,000. Average cost of remakes: $8,000.
Tires: Manufactured by Goodyear and Firestone, monster truck tires must be 66 inches high and 43 inches wide. Tires are customized and hand cut to accommodate track conditions and reduce weight. Cutting one tire takes approximately 50 hours. Average cost: $2,600 each.
Shocks: Most Monster Trucks run with nitrogen gas shocks. Some trucks run with one shock per tire, while others run with as many as two per tire. The complete shock package includes a coil-over-shock kit and spring. Average cost: $1,600 each.
Paint: A monster truck must be painted to cover the rough fiberglass body. Airbrushing logos and specialized artwork add to the cost. Average cost: $5000.
Race Team Budget: A monster truck team incurs a number of expenses throughout the year from repairs and maintenance on a monster truck and the hauler to fuel, racing uniforms, lodging and food. Average cost per year: $250,000
Crushed Cars: Steel body full-size cars are the vehicles typically crushed during a monster truck event. Cars, as well as vans, buses, motor homes, airplanes and ambulances, are attained from local junkyards and returned after each event. Average number of cars crushed per year: 3,000.
Tracks: A crew of eight works 18-20 hours for three days to construct a monster truck course. It is not uncommon for dump trucks to make more than 200 trips to deliver the dirt to each stadium. Average amount of dirt used per track: 700 cubic yards for an arena, 3,500 cubic yards for a stadium. Each year 700,000 cubic yards of dirt are used to put on Monster Jam events.
Tickets: More than 3.5 million people annually attended the Monster Jam events in North America, Canada and Europe.
Today’s monster trucks use lightweight bodies and tires so more strength and weight can be put into the frame without sacrificing speed, maneuverability, or safety.
- Body – Made of fiberglass, a monster truck body is custom designed to create a character or theme for the truck. Custom body trucks can be carved by hand out of Styrofoam and wood to create a “plug” which is then used to create a fiberglass body mold or created by computers.
- Driver Seat – Most monster trucks have the driver seated in the center of the vehicle so he or she can best see the track for weight distribution. The seats are custom molded to each driver’s body and all drivers use head and neck restraint devices to keep their heads secure during rough landings. As a safety measure, all seatbelts employ a 5 point harness to restrain the driver’s body.
- Paint – Most Monster Jam® monster trucks feature highly designed, customized airbrushed artwork on their bodies. Airbushing is expensive and time consuming as some trucks require more than 40 hours of paint time. Monster Jam body fabricators are always assured lots of work though, as their custom creations are routinely destroyed during the shows.
- Engines – Custom-built, supercharged and methanol-injected, a monster truck engine burns up to 10 liters of methanol per run (approximately 80 meters) and delivers about 1,500 horsepower.
- Suspension System – In order to allow the drivers to withstand the punishing impacts of jumping and crashing a monster truck during a performance, each Monster Jam monster truck is equipped with specially-engineered extra long 76cm shock absorbers filled with oil and nitrogen gas that are installed with each tire.
- Tires – Each monster truck tire is custom made. They must be 66 inches high and 43 inches wide. The average monster truck team will go through 8 tires in one year. Tires are designed differently to satisfy various track conditions and driver preference. Carving just one tire requires over 50 hours of exacting labor.
Photography by Tom McAdam