Were monster trucking the world Chad Fortune flies his truck Superman at Monster Jam, a monster truck competition in San Jose, Costa Rica (Reuters / AP photo)
Were monster trucking the world
Lexile

From Madonna to Miley Cyrus, from Titanic to Transformers, American entertainment culture has been rolling all over the world for decades.

Now, another uniquely American phenomenon with roots in the U.S. is rumbling across international boundaries on giant wheels: monster trucks.

"We're monster-trucking the world," said Kenneth Feld, CEO of Feld Entertainment. It's the company that owns the giant vehicles and the trademark Monster Jam events. "We're building the business globally. It's got a lot of traction."

For those not versed in all things monster, here's a brief explanation: Monster Jam shows feature ginormous trucks that race and rev at ear-splitting decibels. They crush numerous old cars and leap into the air.

The trucks themselves have different themes. The black-and-neon green "Grave Digger" is probably the most popular. The "Zombie" is frightening and the "Monster Mutt Rottweiler," a dog-themed truck, is actually kind of cute.

The tires are often 66 inches tall and the trucks stand about 12 feet high.

Monster Jam had its first international show in 2004, and by 2012, it was featured in one large, international tour. In 2013, the company offered two simultaneous international tours. In 2014, there were three.

About 55,000 people packed one stadium in Sydney, Australia, in October. The trucks have visited everywhere from Abu Dhabi to Europe.

"Going on to 2015, we'll have four parallel tours to cope with the demand in the market," said Magnus Danielsson, international vice president of Feld Motor Sports. "I would expect us to almost double the international business next year."

Florida-based Feld Entertainment owns the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus. It bought the Monster Jam brand in 2008. In 2015, the company will embark on a 10-city Monster Jam tour in Brazil, as well as a three-city tour in Spain and plans similar events for Asia and South America.

While Feld isn't the only monster truck event promoter in the world, it is the largest. Other, smaller promoters worldwide are getting in on the act.

"There is a global appeal," said Marty Garza, spokesman for the Monster Truck Racing Association. It's a U.S.-based group that establishes safety guidelines for monster vehicles and performances. "It appeals to all senses. It crosses all cultures."

Said Nigel Morris, the recently retired United Kingdom-based driver of Bigfoot #17: "The things that people love about monster trucks in America are the things they love in other countries. It's a dramatic show. Lots of action. Lots of horsepower."

When asked to explain why Monster Jam thrills spectators inside and outside of the U.S., Danielsson summed it up: "The destruction component is big."

Garza notes that part of the international appeal may lie in the fact that the big, bold vehicles are uniquely American.

"Maybe the monster trucks do have an underlying representation of our freedoms here. That we're able to do these seemingly incredible things," he said.

Recently, Garza's group was contacted by a monster truck promoter in China to help with a series of racing events in that country.

Another reason why the trucks are so popular in other countries: Everyone understands the storyline of loud engines and crunching metal.

Morris, who has raced Bigfoot #17 around Europe and beyond, said folks in the Netherlands "probably have the most enthusiastic fans," while people in Eastern Europe also adore monster trucks.

In the spring of 2014, Monster Mania was held in Moscow. More than 15,000 fans flocked to the show.

Tony Dixon, a British driver of a truck called "Swamp Thing," told the English-language Moscow Times that "absolutely everybody gets Monster trucks. It is just big, loud and abusive."

Critical thinking challenge: What does the Monster Truck brand have in common with other businesses owned by Feld Entertainment?

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COMMENTS (93)
  • JasonW-1
    12/19/2014 - 10:36 a.m.

    Monster Jam is going international. They had the first international show in 2004 and their first tour in 2012. By 2015 they plan on having four simultaneous tours. It's growing in popularity so Monster Jam is expanding. Personally Monster Trucks are not very exciting to me. They're big, they crush stuff, not very exciting. However I can see the appeal to many.

  • LucasF-1
    12/19/2014 - 11:22 a.m.

    Monster are becoming more popular across the united states. There are many famous monster trucks such as gravedigger. Trucks are more mostly popular in the southern and middle parts of the country. Everyone believes monster trucks are cool according to a reporter. I think it is cool monster trucks are popular.

  • 18Beau-May
    12/19/2014 - 12:53 p.m.

    Iwould want to own a monster truck. I would like to own Grave Diggeer. It would be super cool!I want to go to a monster jam and see trucks race and trample other cars.

  • DominicR-Jac
    12/19/2014 - 04:07 p.m.

    I have been to a monster truck show the winner gave out his trophy to a kid that was sitting in the front row. Some other monster truck drivers were giving out toys and I almost got one but he gave it to someone else.

  • WV2001TacoBelll
    12/22/2014 - 01:01 p.m.

    They use names and characters people love so they have more people who like them and more fans I kmnow I like the mondster trucks that have characters and logos I like

  • SDomanic-Sti
    12/23/2014 - 09:22 a.m.

    who would have 66 inch tiers on their truck? that's insane having that size tiers on a truck. I would not have 66 inch tiers on my truck

  • HudsonC-3
    12/25/2014 - 09:26 p.m.

    Monster trucks are the next big thing. they are loud and big. People adore them all over Europe and Asia. In the Netherlands the fans are the best with Moscow a close second. Kenneth Feld is the CEO and he is starting to have to compete with new companies that own these trucks. These trucks bring in a lot of fans and a lot of money. These trucks are 12 feet tall and the wheels are 66 inches tall. I personally love monster trucks and think everyone should love them.

  • EmmaBender
    12/30/2014 - 08:53 a.m.

    I think it's co how they used names or things that everyone knows to put on they're monster trucks just so that they can have more attention.

  • EthanY-1
    1/02/2015 - 12:45 a.m.

    There was a monster truck competition in San Jose, Costa Rica. Chad Fortune flew through it. People are saying its getting more popular. 55,000 people went to see a completion in Sydney, Australia. I think monster trucking is cool. I want to go to a competition.

  • ksadat-5
    1/02/2015 - 10:59 a.m.

    American entertainment has been thrown around for many decades. From popstars to tv shows and to movies. Recently, a new part of American Entertainment has come into play, that is, Monster Trucks. Monster Trucks were everyone's childhood dream. Feld Entertainment has been making huge vehicles for many years and also hosts the annual Monster Jam. Where drivers with their monster trucks attempt and succeed at doing cool tricks.

    Monster trucks are cool, but I don't see them being the new center of American Entertainment. American Entertainment has shifted over the past decade, but still remains in the same type of category: Music, Movies, Tv shows, and Books. Just to introduce a new category would be stretching it. This would either be a total fail, or a one hit wonder. THe trucks could become popular, then just go out of style.

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