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Custom Made Monster Truck and Truck Pulls Monster Jam Thunder Nationals in Pensacola

Updated on September 21, 2012

History Of Monster Trucks

Monster Trucks are relatively a new thing. It all started way back in the ‘70’s as the modified truck scene became more prevalent. It can trace its roots back to the sport of mud bogging, and truck pulls. Soon, lifted trucks with large horsepower were beginning to show, and soon became a contest of “biggest truck”. Some of the earliest examples of monster trucks include the original Bigfoot and King Kong. Back then, the largest of the tires were 48”. In comparison, todays mud trucks and rock crawlers usually are equipped with a 44” tire. In April 1981, Bob Chandler drove his monster truck Bigfoot over a field of cars to test the trucks ability, and show off the skills of his shop. Shortly after, an event promoter saw a film of the test, and asked him to perform in front of crowds. Chandler performed at the Pontiac Silverdome in 1982, with a newer version of Bigfoot, this one equipped with 66” tires, and coined the phrase “Monster Truck”. There is a lot of debate as to who performed the first actual car crush using a monster ruck, with claims coming from King Kong, High Roller, and Cyclops have all claimed to have crushed cars in the 70s, although the earliest recorded record of crushing a car with a monster truck belongs to Bigfoot.

Monster Truck Racing

During the 80s, new monster trucks were beginning to emerge. These trucks were built on stock chassis that had been heavily reinforced, and used heavy military axles to accomplish the task. Because of this, the trucks were extremely heavy, tipping the scales at 13-20 thousand pounds. This provided the crushing that was needed, and most times trucks had to crawl up and over the cars. During the 80’s, monster trucks usually performed at exhibitions as a side show to the main event. Then, in 1985, major promoters of monster trucks started holding monster truck races on a regular basis. To this day, they still hold single elimination drag racing for monster trucks. Because of this, and the layout of the course, which usually includes 2 or 3 turns and possibly a jump or object to crawl over, truck owners started lightening their rucks, in an attempt to become the fastest. In 1988, TNT motorsports introduced the first ever monster truck point’s championship and this caused monster trucks to become standardized. Straight-Rail frames, fiberglass bodies, and lighter axles all started appearing on monster trucks as weight saving measures. Also during this time, the MTRA, or Monster Truck Racing Association, was formed, and created safety rules for the sport, and still plays an important role in the sports development.


Since monster trucks were primarily used for racing purposes, teams began to start designing and building. 1989 saw the introduction of coil springs instead of leaf springs on trucks on Equalizer, as well as the first 4-link systems on Taurus were beginning to emerge. But topping them all again was Bigfoot, now on its 8th reincarnation, with a full tube chassis & long travel suspension (using cantilevers and nitrogen shocks), changing the sport forever. 1993 saw the introduction to the freestyle event, primarily with the truck Grave Digger, which allows drivers to create their own course, similar to freestyle ice skaters. Drivers usually are judged by a panel of judges, as well as crowd response. The premise of exhibition has basically become “go big, or go home” and becomes basically a stunt show, and most teams try to at least put on a great show. Most of the exhibition winners are awarded based upon crowd response. Common stunts during exhibition events include large jumps, doughnuts, wheelies, endo's or stoppies, as well as crushing whatever is on the course.

Truck Desgin

Modern monster trucks have come a long way from their humble beginnings, and are now essentially purpose built, completely custom, scaled up, 4wheel drive dune buggies, with massive amounts of horsepower and gigantic tires. Modern monster trucks really are not trucks at all, more rolling chassis with fiberglass body panels attached to give the vehicle the resemblance of being a truck. Some of the trucks on the circuit today no longer stick with the “truck” body style, and design and build custom fiberglass bodies for there chassis. Suspension on modern trucks as well as frames have evolved through the years, becoming lighter, stronger, and more capable with trucks that feature up to 4 feet of travel. Most monster trucks also use a mid-engine, 4 wheel drive setup, placing the engine behind the driver. This makes the truck more balanced, as well as helps distribute power to all 4 wheels more evenly. Engines are typically heavily modified, supercharged, and run on alcohol. Axles are still heavy duty applications, since these are already proven, although interior parts may be changed, as gear ratios and weight are all factors of racing. 4 wheel steering is used on all trucks now, as this shaves time off of laps, and tires are generally 66”x43”x25” agricultural tires, found on fertilizer spreaders. Transmissions on monster trucks are generally automatic, unlike all other forms of racing that utilize a clutch and the driver has to manually shift.


Several safety features are needed in monster trucks as well, to include full roll cages and 3 kill switches (a Remote Ignition Interrupt – shuts the truck off remotely if the driver loses control; inside the cab for the driver; and outside at the rear of the truck in the event of a roll over). Most trucks are constructed so that the driver is sitting in the middle of the truck, for the best view, and the windshields are made of a shatterproof material called Lexan. Firesuits, safety harnesses, helmets, and head and neck restraints are all required, and the truck has shields covering most moving parts, as well as having extra straps for high pressure componants. Racing regularion fuel tanks are also needed.


Monster truck events are held in venues, such as indoors in a civic center, or at large race tracks. Usually admission for races is quite affordable for adults, with most kids getting in for super cheap. Monster truck events are always extremely noisy, just like any other motorsport, so hearing protection for the little ones, and possibly even the adults, is recommended outdoors. Indoor activities are especially loud, and hearing protection should be worn by all. Part of the fun of going to race day is getting pit passes and getting up and close with these modern marvels of technological superiority. Popular trucks include Grave Digger, Bigfoot, Batman, Aftershock, El Toro Loco, Monster Mutt, Sudden Impact, and Backwards Bob, which has its body installed backwards, so the vehicle appears like it is always going in reverse.

Upcoming Venue: March 2-3, 2012

One of the upcoming events, the Monster Jam Thunder Nationals, will be held in the Pensacola Civic Center, in Pensacola, Florida, on March 2-3, 2012. Advanced tickets for this event can be purchased for 25$ adults, 5$ kids 2-12. Tickets are 2$ more at the door. Pit Passes for Saturdays Party in the Pits are 5$.

Friday, the doors open at 6:30PM local time, with the event starting at 7:30.
Saturday, the doors open at 1:00PM local time, event starts at 2:00PM, as well as another show at 7:30PM, with the doors opening at 6:30PM. Saturday also includes the Party in the Pits, which runs from 11:30AM - 1:00PM.

Pensacola is proud to be hosting the 2012 Monster Jam Thunder Nationals in the civic center, and are blessed that the Pensacola real estate market can allow for them to have a facility that can handle such sports events, which brings plenty of revenue for our local businesses.


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