Sunday, June 10, 2012

The "City of Monsterly Love": Monster Trucks at the Linc!

Why? Because I'd never been to anything like this before and I knew Fred would enjoy it because he watches it on TV. I'm not too shy to say I enjoyed it as well, although I did not come home with a Monster Jam T-shirt or Gravedigger hat, or any of the fabulous prizes given away to hard-core fans by the drivers. As with any sport, it's much more fun to be there than to watch it on TV. Fred is used to the edited-for-TV version, so he was seeing some parts here at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia for the first time.

Grave Diggers 1 and 2, driven by father Dennis Anderson (green) and son Adam Anderson (blue). Father/green is headed over to the other side to start, and son/blue (actually called Grave Digger: the legend) will start from the line in the foreground.

Medusa (Debra "Medusa" Miceli) is upside-down.

Here's how it goes: trucks with names like Grave Digger, Monster Mutt, Medusa, El Toro Loco, and Maximum Destruction are parked along the short ends of the football stadium. In pairs, they go out to the oval course to race starting at opposite ends. In a tie, they would both cross the finish line (where the fifty yard line would be) at the same time at opposite sides (both counter-clockwise). Winners play other winners through four rounds until a winner is crowned. Last night, the ultra-popular Gravedigger was the winner of the race portion, and the driver gave away his trophy to a lucky little fan. Generally there aren't many crashes in this part, but last night Medusa crashed, and missing one of her axles was not able to come back for the Freestyle portion later. When crashes do occur, these construction diggers and pushers come out to right the vehicles and tow them if necessary. Like a rodeo clown, a silver pickup truck comes out with guys shooting T-shirts into the crowd (from a shirt gun, of course) to distract the crowd.

In-between rounds, two swarms of ATVs come out, one swarm in red (Philadelphia) and one swarm in blue (New York). They race around in a curvier version of the course, a few flip, and during post-race interviews artificially-heated challenges are thrown about. Last night the Philadelphia swarm won the thing.

I think my favorite truck had to be Monster Mutt. It has a tail, a pink tongue in front of its grill, painted-on doggie teeth, and floppy ears that really flopped during the Freestyle carnage. (photo by Fred)

Everyone seems to be waiting for what was referred to as the "carnage." This is where the trucks go out onto the field solo and do a little freestyle show. Yes, come to think of it, this portion is technically called Freestyle. They cruise over the berms as they had in the race segment, but now they can go over the mounds of dirt they had circled around before. The junk cars painted flat red and flat yellow and parked around the dirt mounds are mashed to smithereens in short order, so more vehicles (a station wagon, boat, and recreational vehicle last night) are brought out as obstacles for the last bunch of trucks.

Fred snapped this shot of El Toro Loco (Marc McDonald, driver) catching some air. Note the red former vehicles below.
 Trucks are scored for creativity and stunts such as wheelies, catching air, and general mayhem. Last night, only one truck was able to do the new favorite stunt, a back-flip. (If I hadn't seen it with my own eyes...) Three trucks including the crowd-favorite Gravedigger attempted this flip, but only one, the Grinder, actually performed it last night. Check out this great video I found of another in the Grave Digger team, driven by another in the Anderson family (Ryan), performing the back flip!

Fred's favorite, Maximum Destruction (called affectionately "Max D" by Fred) did not do much to tell you about. My favorite, Monster Mutt, was almost eliminated because of an injury, er, uh, broken rocker arm, but was able to return after a visit to the pit. So although I know that the truck bodies are largely ornamental and are replaced after (sometimes during) each race, and although I know they do the same show in each town on their tour, I really did enjoy the Monster Jam! It was loud, but in the second level where we sat it really wasn't as loud as I expected. (I've been to rock concerts that bothered my ears more.) The crowd was well-behaved and there were so many kids with protective ear-wear on just loving the show. Fun.

No comments: