There comes a time in every man’s life when he must watch a 19-ton truck roll over five other vehicles consecutively. For me, that time came last Saturday, when I went with my wife and two friends to a monster truck rally in Cincinnati.
I am not what you would call a “truck person” in general, and I’d never been to anything like this before. I went because I like trying new things, and I like doing stuff with my friends. Still, I was acutely aware that the demographic at this event was not – how can I put this – “my people.” I am not generally accustomed to seeing that much camo in one place.
But although we didn’t really fit in with the crowd, everyone was very nice to us. Another group even told us we didn’t have to move when we turned out to be in the wrong seats. I was struck by this politeness, not because it was unexpected, but because it flies in the face of what pundits tell us about the supposed culture war in America. In the headlines, tensions are always on the verge of exploding. In real life, people are pretty nice to each other.
Back to the trucks, though.
The point of a monster truck rally is to be big and loud and fun, and to that end, mission accomplished. Four trucks competed: Big Crunch, Outlaw Clydesdale, Defender, and Bigfoot. (The only mental image I can summon for the name “Outlaw Clydesdale” is that of a very naughty horse.)
Between the announcer’s commentary and a little pre-game Wikipedia research, I learned that Bigfoot is the original monster truck, the one that started the whole thing back in 1979. There are lots of trucks called Bigfoot now, all owned by Bob Chandler. This particular Bigfoot was the star of the show, and seemed pretty popular with the crowd.
So what do these trucks actually do? Well, this rally had three main events. First, there was a wheelie contest, where the trucks compete to see how much air time they can get when jumping over a pair of unfortunate cars. (The winner is determined by applause.)
Second, they do a drag race, which is just two trucks going in a straight line from one end of the (rather small) stadium to the other. This was the least interesting.
And third, there’s an event called “freestyle,” which was essentially driving over five cars instead of two, plus some other driving around that appeared (to my untrained eye) rather pointless.
In between these events, they gave the trucks a break and did motocross and four-wheeler racing.
It was a cool show, but unfortunately, the venue was really too small for what they were trying to do. The trucks are huge, and they packed them into a dirt-filled arena the size of a basketball court. They had to back up just to turn around. I felt like a bigger area would’ve given them the freedom to do more stunts, not to mention more interesting races.
Also, as I mentioned, only four trucks competed, and aside from the paint jobs they all looked pretty much the same. But the jumbotron played videos of other monster truck events, highlighting a wide assortment of vehicles of all different designs, from the Grave Digger to a van with tank treads. A little more variety would’ve helped.
Still, it was fun, and loud, and they crushed things, which – I’ll be honest – is all I really wanted.
And what did you do this weekend?