By Rich Walker
If you’re holding this magazine, chances are good that you have once dreamt about driving a Monster Truck. Maybe you were stuck in traffic and wondered, “what if I had a Monster Truck”, maybe you saw it on TV and thought it would be fun, or maybe it was a childhood dream. For me, I can remember being “just a wee tyke” and going hand in hand with my Dad to BC Place year after year to watch the shows. As I grew up, my passion for Monster Trucks has always been on the back burner, simmering away.
For many years now, the Monster Jam World Finals (which is the last show each year) has taken place in Las Vegas, Nevada. I’m sure I don’t need to explain the how’s and why’s, but if you have been to Vegas, you know that it is the perfect venue for such an epic show. We were originally supposed to go in 2011, but due to some personal flying issues it didn’t happen. I was pretty bummed that I missed the first ever landed back flip in a Monster Truck in competition, but what I witnessed this year more than made up for it!
We opted not to go to the racing portion of the show on Friday night and spent twice the money on good seats for the freestyle on Saturday. We weren’t even sitting in our seats when I realized how awesome the show was going to be. The outdoor arena coupled with the sheer size of the obstacles (in comparison to past events at BC Place) was truly amazing.
Before long, over a dozen of the most popular Monster Trucks were lined up and ready to smash, crash and bash their trucks to bits for the crowd. I could write for hours describing each trucks’ performance, but rather than do that I will just concentrate on a couple of the more memorable moments.
George Balhan in the Mohawk Warrior lined up for the back flip obstacle and hit it so hard he did not one, but two (yes, two) complete back flips. Unfortunately, his time had run out and that move didn’t count towards his score. Nonetheless, the cheers from the crowd might have been louder than the sounds from the 1500+ horsepower engines these guys run.
The best run of the entire night was by a Canadian boy from Alberta named Cam McQueen in Northern Nightmare. Fresh out of the gate, Cam lined up for the double step up jump and less than a minute into the run he did a front flip landing back on his wheels. Not even skipping a beat, he kept the engine lit up and headed right over to the back flip obstacle. Yup, he nailed it! Again, not skipping a beat, he kept up this amazing run getting huge air, pushing the limits of this truck with every second. When all the smoke settled (yeah, it lit on fire at the end of the run!) Cam was in the “hot seat” and would hold on to win the freestyle trophy for 2012 being the first Canadian to do so!
Also noteworthy, was the fact that 2012 marked the 30th Anniversary for the ever-popular ‘Gravedigger’ event. Just when we thought the show was over, out came 8 Gravediggers for an encore that would stay permanently embedded in my memory bank. For approximately 3 minutes all 8 of these trucks let it fly. There was honestly so much happening that it was hard to figure out where to look. When it was finally over, every single truck was either upside down, on its side, missing tires or not moving anymore with a blown motor. It was hard to believe how much destruction can happen in such a short amount of time. Kudos to Dennis Anderson and his ENTIRE crew for 30 years of entertainment!
After letting it all soak in for a few minutes, we made our way to the souvenir stand, collected our t-shirts and hats and made our way back to the strip. Congrats to Cam McQueen on bringing the freestyle trophy home to Canada and thank-you for putting on one hell of a show! We picked a great year to go, that’s for sure. Makes me wonder what’s going to happen next year to top it… maybe we should go again?