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From mud to mainstream

The history of monstertrucks

Monster trucks are something so inherently American and a staple within the culture. I recently attended Monster Jam, a showcase of monster truck rallies, a major motor sport event that performs across the world. The roar of those massive engines left my ears ringing, proof of possible permanent damage but the experience compared to no other.

Monster Jam consists of three events with 12 cars competing; a race, two wheel skills and freestyle, all of which I watched with absolute amazement. The motor control each of these drivers had to pull off, such as back flips and two wheel driving, were met with hoops and cheers among the audience, their excitement mirroring my own. All unsuccessful attempts resulted in a belly up truck and a towing team rushing on site. With such huge vehicle crashes and technical difficulties common, the disappointment was shown through each truck scoring at the end of every turn. 

The overwhelming smell of gasoline and the incredibly overpriced greasy food ultimately felt like part of the experience, one I am glad to have been present for. This got me wondering how something as large scale and cartoonish as monster trucks came to be so well known.

The story dates back to the 1970’s with the creation of Bigfoot, the world’s first ever monster truck before the term was coined. Owned by Bob Chandler, its development came about due to the increasing popularity of heavily modified trucks. The competition for bigger and better trucks resulted in the birth of Bigfoot. Soon after, USA-1 and King Kong gained their own national attention.

Initially, these first few monster trucks were showcased as a side event to more well known motorsports. However, those events quickly gained traction warranting the very first monster truck show in 1982. The first monster truck shows displayed their trucks horsepower and agility by smashing wrecked cars in a series of rolls and flips and tricks. This of course was loved by the masses and quickly led to monster truck racing as a prelude for the upcoming violent events. 

Over some video licensing disputes, Bigfoot ceased to compete in monster truck events in 1998 and since there have been 22 more copies of the first monster truck with the original now displayed in Missouri. 

The Monster Jam event I attended consisted of 12 monster trucks, each with their own signature looks and creative names, one of which consistently received more crowd approval than any other. Grave Digger, transformed from a 1952 mud bogging machine into what it is today, a formidable force towering 12 feet tall at a considerable 12,000 pounds fitted with 66 inch tires. There are seven Grave Diggers driving in Monster Jam events, and the team itself is advised by the former driver and creator of the original vehicle, Dennis Anderson.

Dennis Anderson found his passion for monster truck driving and has stuck with the professions for more than 40 years. He continues to show his dedication through thrilling executions of Monster Jams’ breathtaking events. Now 63 years old, his grit shows no signs of waning anytime soon.

While monster trucks are deeply rooted in American culture monster trucks are enjoyed all across the world, a family friendly action packed experience loved by anyone and everyone. From 1990 to present day Monster Jam has been holding performances in 350 countries.

Though it is still a male dominated field it presents an opportunity for anyone interested regardless of physical abilities since it all comes down to skill.


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