Everyone loves Monster trucks, especially in the USA. They’re the vehicles styled on pickup trucks, but with the addition of oversized wheels.
They are famous for popular entertainment performances, often at sporting venues such as sports stadia, and are often on the same bill as motocross races and tank driving.
Five facts about monster trucks
- The most famous truck is Bigfoot, but Grave Digger also has a large following.
- You can steer a monster truck with its front and rear wheels simultaneously, so it’s cornering is above that of a normal saloon .
- They’re so dangerous that drivers wear fire suits, with other safety precautions including helmets and safety harnesses to hold the driver in their seat.
- The force of landing after a large jump is greater than a punch from Mike Tyson
- There is a monster truck built on the body of a Smart Car.
Monster truck entertainment
Shows involving these vehicles usually culminate in the trucks flattening cars and jumping over ramps. Because the wheels are so large, the trucks have a very high centre of gravity. This means that the trucks can easily drive over obstacles up to two metres high, which makes it a very unusual experience.
Most shows contain races, with two trucks competing against each other, with the slowest being replaced after every race. Later shows involve other stunts such as wheel spinning and donuts, alongside racing. Of course they’re a very American vehicle. In the UK there’s only one US spec Monster truck, and it’s so rare, and so much fun, that you can actually rent time in it. There’s a review of driving it on Alasdair Gray’s experience days site: here.
The anatomy of a monster truck
The trucks can reach up to 140kph, with roaring engines pushing the heavy wheels. This power enables the trucks to jump up to 40 metres, after a long run up. The body of the truck is usually solid plastic, to keep the weight down and the strength up, and they rarely have doors, as this would add to the weight. This means you’ll have to climb into the cabin through the window – a bit scary if you are already 2 metres off the ground. You don’t need a special licence to drive a monster truck, but they are rarely road legal.
You may also be surprised to hear that the steering wheel is in the middle of the cabin, to give the driver better all round vision. The first ever truck was Bigfoot. Back in 1981, Truck-a-Rama promoter Bob George had the idea of driving a promotional truck with hude wheels, over some old bangers, He coined the term ‘monster truck’ and a new adrenaline sport was born.
Much the same as speedboats, these trucks come complete with a kill switch, which can turn off the engine if the driver falls from the vehicle or loses control. As we’ve said above, the drivers are also fastened tightly into the seat, and equipped with a fire retardant suit, to protect them in the event of a crash and subsequent fire.