Four reasons why Monster Jam is the best

Dennis Anderson drives Grave Digger. He created the original Grave Digger in 1982, and there have been 20 different race-truck versions since.

Jack Rowland/tbt*

Dennis Anderson drives Grave Digger. He created the original Grave Digger in 1982, and there have been 20 different race-truck versions since.

Catchy title, eh?

The official title is "Beef O Brady's, Metro PCS, 1-800-ASK-GARY, & Dairy Queen bring you the Advance Auto Parts Monster Jam® presented by Ford Trucks & Your Southern Ford Dealers." They may be destroying the event's artistic credibility with that name, but it does mean there's lots of free stuff and coupons. You can get $3 off show tickets at Dairy Queen, a four-ticket deal at Metro PCS locations, a free monster truck ride pass at Advance Auto Parts stores and passes to the 2:30 to 5:30 p.m. Pit Party to meet the drivers at Southern Ford Dealer locations.

Go all day

Before the show, there's tailgating, the kind where people show up with giant grills on the back of their pickup and roast a pig. Then there are a couple of hours to line up to meet drivers and get pictures next to absurdly large trucks that have been tricked out to look like the Tasmanian Devil or a saber-toothed tiger. Notice how the tires are taller than your 6-year-old.

The show itself is divided. During the first half of the show, pairs of drivers pilot their trucks over obstacles, like an old school bus or even an airplane, in a timed race. Motorcycle stunts take up halftime. Then the popular second half has the drivers take turns performing freestyle tricks. They have cool names for their jumps like sky wheelies.

Glorious excess

Trucks cost upwards of $150,000. They stand 11 feet tall and 12 feet wide. The 10,000-pound trucks use methanol, not gas, but who cares when they only get about 225 yards per gallon?

It takes a crew of eight some 18 to 20 hours over three days to construct the track. They truck in 3,500 cubic yards of dirt to spread inside Raymond James Stadium. They crush some 3,000 junk vehicles a year for Monster Jam, including cars, old ambulances and a crowd favorite: motor homes.

And why do they do all this? Because it's loud, and the trucks fly 200 feet into the sky, and it's awesome when one lands on a motor home and it explodes like a confetti cannon.

Take the kids?

Absolutely. Despite the testosterone overload, it's very G-rated. They play Lee Greenwood's God Bless the USA at the beginning, for gosh sakes. How edgy can it be? Plus, the drivers are very gracious about posing for photos and signing autographs. And it's a cheap night out. You can tailgate and get show tickets that start at $15.

Monster Jam

The event is Saturday and Feb. 6 at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa. The tailgating and Pit Party to meet the drivers is 2:30 to 5:30 p.m., the show starts at 7:30 p.m. Admission is $15, $30 for club seats, through Ticketmaster. Get $3 discount coupons at Dairy Queen, a free Monster Truck Ride Pass at Advance Auto Parts and free pit passes at local Southern Ford Dealers. You can also pick up a four-ticket deal at Metro PCS locations. monsterjam.com.

Four reasons why Monster Jam is the best 01/21/10 [Last modified: Thursday, January 21, 2010 3:26pm]

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