Until recently, the closest one can experience the monster truck appeal are through scaled down versions. Most kids here, will have their introduction with the 1/32 scale Tamiya kits. Bigger kids (me included), will have some sort of experience with electric or nitro powered remote controlled trucks.
In Singapore, where motorsports events generally receive some warm attention, Monster Jam is a shameless, no-holds-barred, testosterone-charged approach to racing. If you enjoy demolition derbies (or smash-ups), the mindless destruction and the lack of self-control on display, is the odd appeal which makes you squeal in glee.
With a surprising number of monster truck fans turning up at the Singapore Sports Hub, many chose to attend the 2pm Pit Party for a rare chance to feel what it is like to sit inside a 1,500 horsepower, Monster Jam truck. Many dads were seen trying to round up their families in front of the legendary Grave Digger Monster Jam truck, celebrating its 35th anniversary this year.
Being automotive aficionados who can’t stand a stock car, we could take a closer look at the incredible engineering that went into building the trucks. Mind you, making a 1,500 horsepower machine soar through the air, land, and continue driving requires more engineering than a typical degree can offer.
The Monster Jam trucks share the same basic construction consisting of a tubular space frame, with a mid-mounted engine and massive amounts of suspension work – these trucks have four wheel drive and four wheel steering so that they are much more manoeuvrable than you think.
The gigantic tyres are derived from farm tractors, and are built to slam into ramps, and take the weight of a five ton truck landing on them. With each tyre weighing about 400-500kg, the trucks need serious power, handled by a gigantic 540 cuuubeec inch supercharged V8 running on methanol. That is 8.8 litres, plus a straight piped exhaust. Now, nine trucks roaring around the stadium for the parade lap was enough to make us howl our welcome!
Fun fact: With all that gigantic power, anyone with a “class A” license can drive one, since they come with automatic transmissions with two speeds, fast and faster. This forms part of the racing component for Monster Jam, where two trucks go head-to-head around the circuit. Monster Jam trucks are not very agile when it comes to the tight 90-degree turns of the race circuits, which are confined to sports grounds, but they are surprisingly fast.
Even a simple race around the circuit proved to be challenging with the inclusion of two jumps, of which there were crashes and one extremely spectacular save. It’s one exciting race in a circle! But, the ultimate appeal of Monster Jam is two-wheel tricks and freestyle competition, in which drivers win points for pulling off the craziest stunts.
Not only are the trucks well engineered, so is the track. A combination of dirt ramps and obstacles, the Sports Hub field is much smaller compared to the rugby (or American football) stadiums elsewhere, but it manages to hold some of the important ramps, like the shipping container dirt ramp for the physically impossible backflip.
Flying trucks aside, there was a performance with freestyle motorcross riders, who showcased several high-flying “motobatics”. Of course, there is still the good ole’ car crushing part which is just as equally entertaining to watch!
Unlike an organized race or a competition, Monster Jam’s appeal is quite similar to grassroots drifting. While there are timed elements, drivers have to practise constantly to put on a good show. And a great show it certainly was! Any thing more exciting would be a F1 backflip challenge or a WRC loop-the-loop special stage.
The next Monster Jam will be held in Australia in in October in three different locations. We certainly are looking forward for this crazy party to swing by Singapore again!