The crazy world of monster trucks – those strange vehicles featuring large wheels and suspension systems placed underneath traditional pick-up bodies - is sometimes referred to as a mechanized version of professional wrestling. Certainly the two forms of all-American entertainment inspire larger-than-life personalities, superhero style names and are both wildly popular. Add to that the power rock chords and manic sounding commentary that resonate at races and car crushing events and it’s easy to see why the comparison is drawn. Monster truck fans dislike this image, however, and want to see it treated as a credible sport. For now, though, let’s take a look at the 10 most incredible monster trucks on earth.
10. Jesus the Monster Truck
This religion-inspired truck went on tour in 2003, ‘kicking ass for America’, competing for the International Semi-Regional State Divisional County Sectional City Wide Title. In a bizarre twist, the truck was able to launch fake ‘stigmata blood’ at its rival machines. Couple that with the trademark monster tires and suspension and you have a highly distinctive machine. Created by the mysterious ‘Reverend Paul’, the Jesus monster truck news has been quiet of late. Perhaps fans can someday hope for a Second Coming.
9. Smart Car Monster Truck
Well here’s a novel idea: why not convert your Smart Car into a monster truck? Designed by Greek 4x4 champion Steffan Attart and Mercedes Benz Greece, the Forfun2 vehicle might look bizarre, but it’s been made to serious specifications with an aluminum safety cage, shock absorbers and a ground clearance of 2 feet. Combining the shell of the SMART Fortwo with the industrial 4-wheel drive underpinnings of Mercedes’ Unimog 406, the Forfun2 was designed ‘for fun’ and not for competition. However, standing at a massive height of 12 feet, its monster truck credentials are assured.
8. Bear Foot
Bear Foot was one of the first monster trucks and began competing in the early 1980s. Built and designed by Jack Wilman and Fred Shafer, the original body was a Chevrolet but is now based on a Dodge Ram. Trucks like Bear Foot are often seen at events crushing smaller vehicles under their huge tires. The trucks are able to drive over most obstacles and for safety reasons are installed with a shut-off switch called the Remote Ignition Interrupter in the event that the driver loses control.
Holy monster trucks, Batman! A very different sort of Batmobile, the Batman competes on the United States Hot Rod Association circuit, where it was World Champion in 2008. It has also taken part in three Monster Jam finals, winning the driving competition in 2007 and 2008. The truck is officially licensed by DC Comics and has a replica of the famous superhero’s vehicle as its body. Currently driven by John Seasock and with a powerful 540 cubic inch Merlin Chevy engine, the Batman is one of the most popular trucks on the circuit.
6. Donkey Kong
Featuring a chassis based on Nintendo’s computerized gorilla, Donkey Kong was a sure-fire hit when it debuted at the Monster Jam event in 2007. The truck includes the big ears, tuft of hair and the smart red bow tie of the original character. Frank Krmel describes driving the truck as "a dream.” What’s for real is that with a fighting weight of 10,000 pounds of machinery bouncing along on 66-inch Terra tires, no one’s going to make a monkey out of this truck!
5. Towasaurus Wrex
Most monster trucks are based on pick-up trucks, but Towasaurus Wrex is currently the only competitive monster tow truck on the circuit. Based on a 1946 Chevy Tow Truck and first seen back in 1988, the unusual looking truck still competes occasionally. An engine size of 496 cubic inches makes it more than a match for its rivals. Owner, driver and motorsports promoter Jeff Bursey’s five ton monster is a car crushing machine and is recognized as an all-time favorite.
Owned and driven by Jack Coberna, Cyborg has the distinction of being the only two-wheeled drive vehicle on the circuit. Its front two wheels are not powered and it relies on an independent front suspension. Despite the disadvantage this represents in climbing over obstacles, Cyborg is recognized as one of the more daring and innovative creations in the monster truck world... As well as racing and car crushing, monster truck events also feature freestyle competitions, where drivers perform tricks and stunts such as wheelies and donuts to show off their skills.
3. El Toro Loco
El Toro Loco, or ‘the crazy bull’, is a particularly eye-catching machine. Featuring a 3D body shell with horns sticking out, it creates a powerful, fearsome image. Driver Lupe Soza has only won one world championship with the bull since its creation in 2001, but it is still instantly recognizable as a classic design. Fitted with a 540 cubic inch Merlin Chevy engine, it would be a brave opponent wishing to tame this beast.
2. Grave Digger
Grave Digger is known as one of the most influential trucks of all time. Originally conceived in 1981, there are actually several machines in the Grave Digger team, allowing it to compete at different events at the same time. The lead driver is creator and freestyle master Dennis Anderson. Anderson was extremely influential in the development of the freestyle monster truck competitions as he wanted a chance for drivers eliminated in early races to go on and compete. It was his quote, "I'll take this old junk and dig you a grave with it," that gave the famous truck its name.
Bigfoot is the granddaddy of them all. In fact, Truck-a-Rama promoter Bob George is believed to have coined the term ‘monster truck’ when describing Bigfoot. Bob and Marilyn Chandler’s 4x4 became the first star of the sport. It all started back in 1981, when Chandler decided to see what would happen when he tried to drive Bigfoot – already used in promotions for the Chandlers' 4x4 center – over a couple of junk cars. The car crush was born and the rest is history. Bigfoot went on to be reborn in 10 different versions and monster truck events are still packing out stadiums. In the words of the famous 1980s radio commercials: "Sunday! Sunday! Sunday! Be there!"