Just more than a decade ago, the first monster truck stunned 70,000 fans occupying the Silverdome in Pontiac, Mich. It was 1974 when Bob Chandler built his dream truck, a 4-wheel drive Ford F-250 pickup with a jacked-up suspension and oversized tires. He called his creation Bigfoot. In 1982, in front of a packed house in Pontiac, this monster of a truck smashed two cars with a single blow. Bigfoot monopolized the monster truck scene until Bear Foot, a fierce competitor, came out of hibernation. Fred Shafer was the first monster truck driver to challenge Chandler's Bigfoot, and he would go on to win three worldchampionships.
In the early 1980's several chrome crunching monsters appeared in exhibitions at fairs and motorsports events. From 1981 to 1984, monster trucks just rolled over cars with the intention of flattening them. They didn't race. In 1984, the Battle of the Monster Trucks was created with a race style competition and in 1987 the Unites States Hot Rod Association (USHRA) created and sanctioned the first series with head to head competition. Today, coil over and nitrogen charged suspension systems, 66 inch tall tires and alcohol-injected engines can generate 1,500 horsepower, making today's monster trucks bigger, badder and meaner than ever. The USHRA promotes the top 100 trucks in the world at nearly 300 events each year.
MONSTER SIZE EXPENSES
The Monster Motor Monster truck engines are custom-built, alcohol-injected and usually cost around $35,000. These demons burn 2 to 2.5 gallons of methanol per run, a length of approximately 250 feet. The size of the motor is limited to 575 cubic inches as per USHRA rules.
Each monster truck uses Goodyear or Firestone tires, more commonly manufactured as flotation tires for earth moving equipment. The tires are 66 inches high and 43 inches wide. The average cost for these tires, brand new, is $1,800 each.
$1,500 each - The complete shock price includes a coil over kit, the spring and shock. Coil over is being surpassed by nitrogen charged shocks which run about $2,000 each.
The rough exterior is made of fiberglass. The fiberglass company generally owns the mold for standard vehicle makes. The cost totals nearly $2,500 for standard pickups. However, a custom design such as that used by our monster trucks increases the cost dramatically. It cost $20,000 for the initial mold of Wild Thang but the cost dropped to $5,000 for each remake.
Each vehicle must be painted to cover the rough fiberglass body. Complex airbrushing logos and specialized artwork add to the cost. The cost of painting can be anywhere from $2-7,000.
Repairs and maintenance on the monster and the hauler, fuel for the beast and the hauler, racing uniforms, lodging and food can run in excess of $120,000 per year.
Monster trucks are built for short, high-powered bursts of speed. They generate an average of 1,500 to 2,000 horsepower and are capable of speeds up to 100 miles per hour. These trucks can jump 110 to 115 feet (a distance greater than 14 cars side by side) and up to 20-25 feet in the air.
These beasts weigh a minimum of 10,000 pounds. Some weigh as much as 12,000 pounds. The less the body weighs, the more strength and weight can be put into the frame and engine without sacrificing speed and maneuverability. A monster truck is usually 11 feet tall and is about 12 feet wide.
On most of the monster trucks, Grave Digger being the exception, the fiberglass bodies are continuous so there are no doors to open. Most monsters have manholes in the passenger side floorboards used for entry.
One hundred percent custom built, there are no two alike. The race trucks are built with a center steer seat position and full roll cage.
There are approximately 300 monster trucks in action in the United States. Many unearth only at local events and don't compete on a national basis. The USHRA selects the fastest, most modern vehicles to compete in its racing series. The top name monster trucks, those who run on the USHRA Monster Jam circuit, often have duplicate trucks for multiple appearances throughout the country.
Most monster truck shows use between 18 and 25 crush cars. Outdoor shows and domes use about 25 cars. Indoor arenas use approximately 18 cars. The cars are purchased from local junkyards. The number of cars a truck will jump depends on the length of the track.
Remote Ignition Interrupter Switch
Each vehicle is equipped with three ignition interrupter switches. The first is in the cab within easy reach of the driver. The second is located in the center rear of the vehicle and is marked with fluorescent paint. The third is held by a USHRA official who can shut down the vehicle at any time via remote control. The ignition interrupter is checked each time the vehicle comes to the starting line no matter how many times that may be at an event.
All drivers are required to use a five-point safety harness and wear a helmet, neck collar, gloves and fire suit.
In most arenas or stadiums there is a designated safety zone. No one is ever allowed to sit in those seats.
ON THE ROAD
The top monster trucks compete in 45-50 different cities each year.
They spend about 200 days per year on the road, hauling their vehicles
from city to city. The drivers log 60,000 to 70,000 cross-country miles
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