Words originally for Buzz Magazine, written during a week's work experience completed in August 2010, published in Buzz's October issue.
Four-tonnes worth of fuel-guzzling metallic beast, 2,000 horsepower engines, $250,000 worth of engineering, 66-inch tyres, lots of noise, freestyle motocross, and American men with facial hair driving monster trucks. Can you guess where this is leading yet (I reckon it was the mention of monster trucks that gave it away, or possibly that darn headline?)... Monster Jam is back in Cardiff!
This year visiting the Millennium Stadium in October for one day only, the tour brings some of the world’s most famous trucks and drivers across the globe, performing flips, spins, wheelies and jumps – as well as generally destroying things as they go.
One of this year’s drivers coming to Cardiff is current Monster Jam World Freestyle Champion Charlie Pauken, who drives the legendary Grave Digger truck. We had a chat to him about what it’s like to drive one of these 10 feet long and 11 feet wide beasts, which can reach 100mph and are capable of jumping off of ramps to heights of over 100 feet, for a living.
“It’s pretty wild,” Charlie says, casually. “One trick I like to perform is the flat wheelie, but as I’m driving the truck through a wheelie I like to stick my hands out and wave to the crowd. I’ve got so comfortable in the truck doing the tricks now that I think: “’I’m not doing anything else, so I might as well just wave to the fans!’”
Isn’t that a little dangerous? “I’ve been knocked out twice and I broke my hand a few years ago,” he says. “It can be dangerous, but I’m in one of the safest vehicles out there to be crashing into things.”
Safe? Pff. Why bother doing it, then? “To me it’s always about the kids,” he says. “Putting a smile on a kids face, that’s everything to me.” Which is lucky, because any kids (or adults) can head down before the event a little early (if they buy an extra ticket for a few quid) to meet and get their photos taken with the drivers of this slightly crazy, but definitely exhilarating, sport. Sounds pretty cool.
Sat 9th Oct, Millennium Stadium, Cardiff. Info: 08442 777 888 / www.monsterjam.com. Tickets: £20 for adults, £10 for children.