Dakota Student

What the truck?

Toughest Monster Truck Tour takes the Alerus

Megasaurus tears apart a car during Saturday's Toughest Monster Truck Tour at the Alerus Center.

Nick Nelson / Dakota Student

Megasaurus tears apart a car during Saturday's Toughest Monster Truck Tour at the Alerus Center.

Devon Abler, A&C Editor

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There was a thunderous roar throughout the Alerus Center on Saturday night. The Toughest Monster Truck Tour made a pit stop in Grand Forks for their championship round. Children of all ages were present during this family friendly event and an epic show was put on.

Before the show began, the master of ceremonies opened by interviewing the drivers of the monster trucks and providing information about the history of monster truck competitions. These competitions have only been around for forty years.

It started with the first monster truck named Bigfoot. This truck was created to be the truck that crushed cars. It was the vision of a man named Bob Chandler who was “just another car guy.”

He started by modifying his Ford F-250 with the ultimate goal of making it the biggest and the best.

This vision is still carried out today. The Bigfoot monster truck is driven by Larry Swim, a “simple guy from Missouri.” He’s been competing for the past 11 years in monster truck competitions and loves the energy of the crowds.

Swim is currently the leading competitor in the Toughest Monster Truck competition. His competitor is Aaron Cain driving Quad Chaos. Currently there are six points separating them. Quad Chaos needs to score seven more points that Bigfoot in order to win the title of Toughest Monster Truck.

The competition begins with each driver given two chances to perfect a wheelie. Each wheelie is worth five points for a total of ten points in this round. Second, each truck will compete in side by side racing. This begins with a solo lap as fast as the truck can go, then the elimination begins.

Finally, there is the freestyle competition. Each driver has an opportunity to gain 40 total points. It is broken down into four categories: use of time, use of track, momentum and wow factor and each category is worth ten points. It is difficult to attain all ten points in the wow factor category as it is difficult to please the judges.

Before the freestyle round, the master of ceremonies walked the children through flag school where the kids in the audience are given the opportunity to learn how to use their flags to give commands to the trucks. Different flag signals meant different tricks. Tight circles meant doughnuts, a straight flag pointing up meant a wheelie and an upside down flag with the stick towards the sky meant destruction. Audience members could give any of these flag signals and the trucks might do it.

The competition began with clouds of dirt and roaring engines filling the air. As the trucks rolled out, it was clear that there were favorites among the audience members. Cheers would arise whenever a truck would crush other cars. The rivalry between the truck drivers was established from the start. Beginning with the wheelie round, Jerry Beck with his truck Dirt Crew won.

“That was awesome,” Beck said. “I watched the ceiling go from in front of me to behind me.”

Side by side became more intense as the audience watched two monster trucks demolish a racecourse in a small arena. After the elimination rounds, it boiled down to father against son. Jabs were made at each other and in the end, Paul Jensen won with his truck Kamikaze.

“I was a little nervous going up against him,” Jensen said. “I watched the last race before this and he was fast. However, we’re a family operated team and I love doing this with him even if I beat him.”

At this point in the competition for toughest monster truck, Bigfoot and Quad Chaos had two points separating them. It came down to the freestyle round to determine who would walk away with the title of toughest monster truck.

But first, a little pre finals entertainment. A golf cart was upgraded with a jet engine that expelled flames from behind it. There was also a fire breathing, car eating dinosaur that came alive. Once the audience was ready, the freestyle competition began.

Doughnuts and wheelies and destruction, oh my. It was difficult to cheer for just one truck as there were so many talented drivers. Thankfully there were judges. After the cloud of dirt had settled, the judges announced that Bigfoot was walking away with the title of Toughest Monster Truck while the overall toughest during tonight’s competition was Kamikaze.

“This round was awesome,” Swim said. “It’s always fun to compete with these guys. We’re a good team.”

It’s not every day that the biggest, baddest trucks come to Grand Forks, but when they do, they bring a show to remember.

Devon Abler is the A&C editor for Dakota Student. She can be reached at [email protected].

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