Although many associate monster trucks and monster truck racing with rednecks and mullets, surprisingly, the monster truck industry is second to Disney On Ice in popularity as a traveling entertainment for families. You can’t say that you’ve lived if you’ve never sat in an exhaust filled arena, taking in the sights and sounds of these monstrous trucks crushing everything in their paths. These highly customized vehicles are highly specialized to endure the rigors of crushing cars, jumping dirt mounds and performing other various acrobatic and destructive feats.
Monster trucks have their beginning in the 1970s when a few men who dreamed of bigger, stronger trucks began raising or lifting their pickups to compete better in local truck pulls and mud bogging contests. Awesome Kong, Bigfoot and Bear Foot are among the first “monster trucks” to gain recognition for their modifications and prowess in contests. These trucks had reinforced stock chassis, and 48 inch (1.21 m) tires.
Awesome Kong would be the first to technically crush cars, but it was Bob Chandler and Bigfoot who would be the first to do it for an audience at the Pontiac Silverdome in 1982. It was at this time that 66 inch (1.67 m) tires were introduced to monster truck aficionados. The 1980s would be the decade that methods to “monsterize” trucks were streamlined and regulated by the Monster Truck Racing Association. With the popularity of monster truck races, the need for speed prompted builders to find new ways to lighten up the previously cumbersome monster trucks.
Today, monster trucks are less trucks than modified dune buggies that look like trucks. They are made with fiberglass bodies, tubular chassis, supercharged engines and custom transmissions. All these parts working together make a monster truck able to climb over obstacles in races and freestyle events where drivers wow audiences with their ability to maneuver their truck over seemingly impossible obstacles. Safety is of utmost concern, and drivers are equipped with several kill switches, as well as remote kill switch to turn of the engine should an accident occur.
There are several series of monster truck events that operate all over the U.S., as well as other countries around the world. Monster Jam, Monster Truck Challenge Series and Major League of Monster Trucks are popular events that tour the country year round.