Were monster trucking the world
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
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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?

Source URL: https://www.tweentribune.com/article/teen/we-re-monster-trucking-world/

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COMMENTS (22)
  • AlexisKrise
    12/31/2014 - 05:51 p.m.

    It's great that people are appealing to the Monster Truck community, but do we need so many gatherings and so many types of trucks? It's cool to see them go head to head, but a little paint can change them quickly, plus, they aren't even allowed on the road to drive! They're a bit pointless.

  • BAlyssa-Sti
    1/06/2015 - 10:02 a.m.

    I don't get why they make monster trucks. It looks really cool to watch though. Smashing other cars with huge tires on, and racing. Sounds pretty fun to do and watch. 55,000 people packed in the stadium and they want more. That is a lot of people. Must be a really cool thing to watch.

  • 9jtbraswell
    1/08/2015 - 10:01 a.m.

    The Monster Truck brand have a lot in common. One thing they have in comman is that they have a lot of fans. Also like the horsepower that the Moster trucks bring.

  • matthewde-Man
    1/08/2015 - 02:20 p.m.

    The monster truck brand has a lot in common in my opinion. They both drive big trucks and destroy cars and race them. They also get a lot of people to go to shows that is just a knock of monster trucking because it is almost the same thing they just do not have the same names and monster trucking.

  • ravenpa-Man
    1/08/2015 - 02:21 p.m.

    They draw a crowed and bring in money. However they bring smiles to little kids and adults who enjoy the event that takes place. All in all its good family fun to watch the big truck smash the little truck.

  • lucianod-Man
    1/08/2015 - 02:27 p.m.

    they both get publicity. they both get publicity. they both get publicity. they both get publicity. they both get publicity. they both get publicity. they both get publicity. they both get publicity.

  • peted-Man
    1/08/2015 - 02:27 p.m.

    They both have monsters trucks and host shows with monster trucks.Feld Entertainment bought the Monsters Jam which has monster trucks and Monster Truck brand has Monster Trucks.

  • ianc-Man
    1/08/2015 - 02:28 p.m.

    They both have monster trucks. They both have trucks. They both have monsters that are trucks.

  • sierragu2-Man
    1/08/2015 - 02:34 p.m.

    It's great that people are appealing to the Monster Truck community, but do we need so many gatherings and so many types of trucks? It's cool to see them go head to head, but a little paint can change them quickly, plus, they aren't even allowed on the road to drive! They're a bit pointless.

  • christ-Man
    1/08/2015 - 02:46 p.m.

    I think its really darn cool that there monster trucking the world it makes me feel so good that there doing that I'm so happy.

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