Appetite for destruction

Monster Jam returns to Nutter

The originally red, Gravedigger turns 35 this year; photo: Monster Jam

By Matt Clevenger

It takes a lot of mud to hold a Monster Jam. 

“It’s right around 120 truckloads,” says Adam DeSutter, the event’s Director of Marketing and Sales. “The dirt is actually stored on-property at the Nutter Center; they store it there all year. We move the dirt in, and then move it right back to the pile when we’re done.”

That dirty job will be underway soon, as Nutter Center prepares for two days of Monster Jam Friday, Sept 29 and Saturday, Sept 30. Featuring eight world-famous monster trucks along with assorted ATVs and other vehicles, the tour will offer three separate show times over the weekend starting Friday at 7 pm and Saturday at 1 pm or 7 pm. Tickets start at $15, and are available online through Ticketmaster or at the Nutter Center box office.

Gravedigger, Hooked, Master of Disaster, Monster Mutt, Mutant, Stinger, and Stone Crusher are just a few of the internationally-known monster trucks that will be participating in the Monster Jam. Each truck weighs approximately 10,000 lbs, and measures roughly 10.5 feet tall, 12 feet wide, and 17 feet long. The trucks’ bodies are custom-made from fiberglass, and each one includes a solid steel safety cage to protect the driver.

Monster Jam engines can generate up to 1,500 horsepower, and tires for the trucks measure 66 inches in diameter by 43 inches wide, and weigh 800 lbs on the wheel. The trucks run on methanol fuel, averaging around 3 gallons per minute, and ride on specially designed clusters of nitrogen-charged shocks that provide 30 inches of travel in the suspension.

Trucks will be on display for fans to see up-close, during a special pit party before Saturday’s 1 pm show. Passes to the pit party will cost an additional $10, and visitors must also have a ticket for Saturday’s 1 pm Monster Jam show in order to get in. 

“That’s from 10:30 in the morning up until noon,” DeSutter says of the Pit Party. “You have to have a pit pass and you have to have a Saturday 1 pm ticket to get in. The pit pass is $10.”

“We have eight trucks that will be there,” DeSutter says. “All of the trucks are on the arena floor; the drivers are with their trucks, signing autographs, interacting with fans, and taking photos. There’s also some other sponsor displays going on down there, such as Monster Energy Drink and America’s Best Contacts and Eyeglasses will have their booths down there doing some activities and possibly some sampling.”

Each of the three shows will feature racing and freestyle tricks, including timed obstacle course races, head-to-head racing, stunts, tricks, and a two-wheeled skills challenge. Monster Jam trucks can launch up to 30 feet into the air and fly up to 13 feet, as well as performing a wide variety of tricks and stunts ranging from donuts to wheelies and even back-flips.

Trucks are maintained by a special crew of technicians who travel with the Monster Jam show, and each vehicle is specially modified with several added safety features. Drivers often sit in the middle of the trucks, and are secured into specialized seats by a five-point harness. Trucks also feature a steel roll-cage, and are equipped with a remote ignition interrupter so that the engine can be shut off remotely from outside in the case of an emergency. A separate engine cut-off switch is located on the rear of each truck’s frame, and drivers are required to wear helmets and flame-resistant suits.

In addition to trucks, the show also features several specially modified ATVs that will race and perform stunts. Monster Jam ATVs are off-road vehicles modified with a 450 CC four-stroke engine, and capable of reaching speeds over 55 MPH.

This year is special for Monster Jam, as one of the tour’s most recognizable monster trucks, Gravedigger, celebrates its 35th anniversary. The truck’s creator, Dennis Anderson, first came up with the idea for Gravedigger in 1981, and the original version was a red truck with a pick-up style body. Gravedigger’s design has evolved over the years, leading to the current panel-van body and supernatural-themed paint that fans will see at Monster Jam. 

The Monster Jam tour started out in 1992, and is celebrating its 25th anniversary this year. The tour has come a long way, since then; in the early days, races were often held outdoors, and many consisted of simple, straight runs over cars as obstacles.

Monster Jam has been a local favorite at Nutter Center for over ten years, DeSutter says. 

“Usually the show is always at the end of January or the beginning of February,” he says, “so this is the first time that it’s been in the fall. Monster Jam is definitely very popular here, and all signs point to the fact that that’s not going away.”

Monster Jam will be held at the Wright State University’s Ervin J. Nutter Center, 3640 Col. Glenn Highway in Dayton. Show times are 7 pm on Friday, September 29 and 1 pm and 7 pm on Saturday, Sept 30. Tickets start at $15. More information can be found online at NutterCenter.com or MonsterJam.com.

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