A mighty Monster Jam truck racing event is coming to Columbus

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If you’re a motorsports fan who got a little bored with the Indy 500 or said “meh” to Formula 1, you might want to give Monster Jam a try.

“Monster trucks are probably one of the most unique motorsports anyone will see,” said Krysten Anderson, driver of the Monster Jam series of on-track monster truck events. “They weigh 12,000 pounds, they have 1,500 horsepower, and they’re about 12 feet tall and 12 feet wide as well. They are some kind of beast of a machine.

You can say it again: with professional drivers such as Anderson at the wheel, the trucks – fearsome with their giant wheels and bold paint jobs – bounce, flip, twist, run, turn and sometimes stand on their rear wheels.

To accomplish such feats, Monster Jam will bring seven of its drivers — including Anderson, who will drive a green, black and purple truck adorned with images of skulls and graveyards, the villainous Grave Digger — to a dirt-filled national arena on Saturday. and the Sunday.

In addition to single races between the gas-guzzling behemoths, the event will feature numerous competitions in which drivers test their skills, performing “doughnuts” (otherwise known as spinning in place) and their ability to pull off tricks. free.

“I mean, 12,000 pounds, jumping 20, 30 feet in the air, that’s pretty impressive,” said Anderson, 24, from northeastern North Carolina. For Anderson, driving monster trucks is something of a rite of passage: his father, Dennis Anderson, not only drove Grave Digger, but was also responsible for creating the truck. His two older brothers also drive Monster Jam.

“You can have some pretty crazy saves sometimes, and some pretty amazing crashes too,” she said. “I think people like to see the wrecked trucks.”

Driver Elvis Lainez, who will sit behind the wheel of the Great Clips Mohawk Warrior this weekend, also grew up with Monster Jam – not as an insider but as an avid spectator.

“My parents thought, ‘He’s 2 years old, we don’t have anything to do, it’s a Saturday night and there’s a show going on in the Astrodome – let’s go,'” Lainez said, 22 year old, originally from Houston now residing in Chappell. Hill, Texas.

Lainez doesn’t remember much from the night except for one particular stunt from pilot Tom Meents, who now runs the training program, Monster Jam University in Paxton, Illinois.

“He did a vertical wheelie on a stack of buses,” Lainez said. “The truck just got stuck in there and he couldn’t get it out. It was so cool to see. 70,000 people in this stadium (went) completely crazy.

Addicted, Lainez and his mother attended Monster Jam every time he passed through Houston. Then, at 15, he convinced himself to help behind the scenes – guarding the plush trucks and the like – before, at 18, making a name for himself in the business itself.

Lainez learned under the tutelage of Meents.

“I’m at Monster Jam University, I’m tutored by the man himself who I saw doing a vertical wheelie and kind of dragged me into it,” said Lainez, whose truck is adorned with a giant Mohawk.

“(The Mohawk) wobbles back and forth as we ride it,” he said. “Sometimes I deliberately hit the rear steering and crab-walk it to make the Mohawk move and sway.”

It all sounds like fun and games, but points are awarded for every Monster Jam event.

“The race is kinda simple: whoever wins the race, wins the race,” Anderson said, adding that fans can vote in other competitions, such as the skills challenge, by logging on to www.juggeszone.com on their smartphone.

“The rest of the events after that (the race) are entirely in the hands of the fans.”

Sometimes success depends on the dirt: It turns out that the texture of the track the riders are maneuvering on makes a big difference.

“Whenever we’re racing, we like dirt that’s a little looser – not too loose, where the truck could spin, but just enough moisture (and) just loose enough that we can really get those trucks. .around a really fast corner, especially in a tight area like Nationwide Arena,” Anderson said. “The 2-wheeled skills contest, we want the stickiest dirt possible – like just sticky dirt, clayey, sticky. It offers plenty of traction.

Ultimately, however, Monster Jam is about the bond between those who drive the trucks and those who cheer them on — a bond that even a pandemic can’t entirely erase.

As usual, a Pit Party will take place from 11 a.m. to noon on Saturday, during which attendees can check out trucks and take photos on the arena floor — from a safe social distance, of course.

“We’re making slow progress and trying to get back to normal,” Anderson said. “Very soon, we hope we will shake hands, hugs, autographs.”

After all, these riders rush into the dirt to entertain, amuse and thrill.

“The best way I can relate to the fans is that I’m still one of them, and I was one of them,” Lainez said. “I know what people want, and I’m going to try to go out there and give it to them.”

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In one look

Monster Jam will take place at 1 p.m. and 7 p.m. Saturday and 1 p.m. Sunday at Nationwide Arena, 200 W. Nationwide Blvd. Tickets cost between $20 and $85. Pit Party passes, from 11 a.m. to noon on Saturday, are $20. Visit www.ticketmaster.com.

In numbers

• 12,000 pounds: weight of each Monster truck

• 1,500 horsepower: the power behind every truck

• 66 inches in diameter, 43 inches in width and a weight of 645 pounds: tire size

• 3 technicians are assigned to work on two trucks

• 100 truckloads of dirt needed for an arena show

Source: Monster jam

Correction: For personal reasons, Monster Jam pilot Krysten Anderson will not be participating in Saturday’s event. Tickets to the booth party are $20.

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