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, 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 with satisfying regularity and leap into the air.

The trucks themselves have different themes with the black-and-neon green "Grave Digger" probably the most popular, while 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 and in 2014, there were three.

About 55,000 people packed one stadium in Sydney in October and the trucks have visited everywhere from Abu Dhabi to Prague to Zurich.

"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, which owns the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus, 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, with additional expansion plans for Asia and South America.

While Feld isn't the only monster truck event promoter in the world, it is the largest, while 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, a U.S.-based group that establishes safety guidelines for monster vehicles and performances. "It's the unpredictability. The sense of excitement visually, the vibrations and the sounds. It appeals to all senses, it seems to have a broad appeal to broad demographics, 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."

The sport has its roots in mud-bogging and truck pulling in the U.S. and the original monster truck is believed to be Bigfoot, a 1974 Ford F-250 four-wheel-drive pickup from Missouri. Something of a marketing genius, Bigfoot owner Bob Chandler videotaped himself crushing cars in a field with the truck. A star was born, and Bigfoot appeared in the 1981 film "Take this Job and Shove It."

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 is that 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.

"It's an entertainment package that needs no voice-over," he said.

On a recent day at the Feld Entertainment headquarters in southwest Florida, several monster trucks were undergoing repairs. The company's giant warehouse is where Feld Motor Sports builds, repairs and dispatches the 10,000-pound vehicles. A dry-erase board lists each truck and driver, along with its location in the world and damage status. It costs about $600,000 a year to build, tour and maintain each truck and the vehicles are sent overseas via cargo ship.

There are multiple identical versions of each truck. At least nine of the popular Grave Digger trucks either circulate around the globe on tour or are in the shop at any given time.

Now, some countries are even starting their own knock-off monster truck competitions.

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?

Assigned 11 times


COMMENTS (22)
  • MFrancisco-Sti
    12/19/2014 - 10:00 a.m.

    M - Everything in the world is upgrading fast.
    E - CEO of Feld Entertainment said that we are the monster trucks.
    A - I agree with him everything did change and it change fast.
    L - The world is coming to a new beginning.

  • BColton-Sti
    12/19/2014 - 10:12 a.m.

    People just love monster trucks where ever they are in the world. About 55,000 people packed one stadium in Sydney in October and the trucks have visited everywhere from Abu Dhabi to Prague to Zurich. I think that this is a way of good entertainment. I think that it is better than video games and kids doing drugs and stuff.

  • LDakota-Sti
    12/19/2014 - 10:24 a.m.

    Well i'm going to start when i was five i went to the very first monster truck show of 2004 it was cool but expensive and i think it a good thing to go see every once and a while it brings back memories for me expectantly when that one guy died Daniel Patrick i believe..

  • JSteven-Sti
    12/19/2014 - 11:00 a.m.

    M - The main idea i think would be that the Monster Jam television show is going on a tour around the World and they are picking specific cities.

    E - It says in the Article that the Monster Jam people will be going on a tour as of 2015.

    A - My opinion that is a great opportunity for people who cant watch that TV show on their TV they can just go visit the place where it will be showing.

    L - The whole thing with them going to different cities for others to pay money to watch destruction live with their own eyes.

  • carsen.basso48
    12/19/2014 - 12:52 p.m.

    Monster trucks are super cool! They can destroy anything. I have seen a monster truck in a monster jam that i went to with my uncle. I think driving a monster truck will be really gnarly because what if you flip or, if you catch on fire? Lets not think of that lets think of how cool monster trucks are!

  • MikaylaStazewski-Ste
    12/19/2014 - 01:17 p.m.

    Monster truck shows have been around for quite awhile, so I do not really feel that the popularity of it will change. I feel like monster trucking only targets one type of audience.

  • MGregory-Sti
    12/22/2014 - 09:42 a.m.

    i think that monster tucks are cool there really big trucks that have 1200 to 2000 horse power. that's like 12 ford 150 tucks in that big beast that thing can smash cars like nothing. Its takes like a year in a half to build one of those trucks and there loud trucks to drive.

  • TE2001lego
    12/22/2014 - 12:59 p.m.

    That's so cool a monster truck vision of super man I bet they made one of batman, hulk, Spiderman, and iron man too bet I have to say the article of monster trucks is amazing.

  • tw2001marvel
    12/22/2014 - 01:03 p.m.

    What the Monster Truck brand have in common with other businesses owned by Feld Entertainment is that it deals with bizarre things. They have the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus so the things they own is quite famous already.

  • VDakota-Sti
    12/23/2014 - 10:09 a.m.

    i never liked moster trucks i think they are dumb but i would like to drive one but i dont like watching them and i dont think that i will ever enjoy them either

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