For young boys, an event called "Monster Jam: Path of Destruction" is irresistible. Add in the details—a show that combines fast, reckless vehicles of all shapes and sizes, fire, and the opportunity to watch the biggest of these fast, reckless vehicles crush smaller ones—and you can imagine it would take a stadium to hold all the young (and old) boys who would flock to watch.
And it does. For the second year in a row, Monster Jam is coming to M&T Bank Stadium on Saturday, June 2nd. We went last year and the boys had a blast. I admit the whole monster truck phenomenon is new to me, but seeing it through their eyes and watching how much fun it is for them, I'm sold. If you go and it doesn't make for too long a day, go to the "Pit Party" ($10 extra) which takes place just outside the stadium before the show: Kids can climb inside monster trucks, BMX demos, face painting, balloon animals, etc. The Pit Party is from 2:30 to 5pm; seating for the show starts at 5, and the show starts at 7. A lot of people seem to come in from out of town and make a day of it.
I also had a chance to have lunch with some of the drivers (pictured) and talk to them about their work. Most started off as motorcross or ATV racers and gradually moved up to monster trucks. Although they are heavily padded and secure during the races, they say that, as a result of all the rattling they do during a show, they wear through the padding on the inside of their helmets within a few shows!
Among the other things I learned: The truck themes (Iron Man, Spiderman, etc.) are usually assigned and not chosen by the drivers (although George Balhan, far right, who helped create the identity for his truck, Mohawk Warrior, is an exception—yes, that's a mohawk, not part of the light fixture), and yes, there are monster truck groupies.
The organizers have graciously given us a 5-pack of tickets to give away. If you're interested, make sure you're a friend of Learning to Crawl on Facebook (button on the right side of this page), then leave a comment here making a case why you should win. Good luck!
- By Evan Serpick