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Monster Truck Insider Henry Cross talks Monster Jam, Grave Digger, Maximum Destruction
Freakishly gi-normous trucks with 66-inch tires and 1500 horsepower exploding into the air with all the intensity of a Saturn-V rocket, capable, and very willing, to munch on lesser vehicles much like mini-wheat - welcome to Monster Jam. What's not to like? There's something, no everything, so comfortably unsubtle about it - and fans can't get enough of it.
We recently spoke with Henry Cross from Poplar Branch, North Carolina. Cross is the Race Team Director for Feld Motor Sports - the prompters of Monster Jam.
Tell us about the Monster Jam series - when and how did it really get started?
"It all started when a guy named Bob Chandler decided to soup-up his 4X4 some 30 years ago. He put some of the biggest tires he could find and stuffed a blown mountain motor under the hood as a power plant. Heck, once it was built the only thing to do with such a large toy is go see if you can drive over some cars. Well, that's exactly what happened, in 1982, in front of 72,000 people, he rolled up and over a row of cars, and monster trucken was born."
"The series 'Monster Jam' is to Monster Trucks, what NASCAR is to cup cars. It is a series that tours around the country and puts some of the biggest names in Monster Trucks in front of millions of awesome race fans. Our fans are the greatest fans in the world. They know the drivers, trucks, and sometimes the crew by name. They are very loyal to their favorite truck like Grave Digger, Maximum Destruction, Monster Mutt, or El Toro Loco. They have different reasons for liking a particular truck, could be the driver, color of the truck, or a favorite character. But whatever the reason, they are the best."
Talk a little more about some of the heavy hitters you just mentioned, like Grave Digger, Maximum Destruction, and Pastrana 199, how's he doing?
"Well, Grave Digger and Maximum are the two hottest trucks on the circuit. When they meet in an arena or stadium, you know there is going to be some fireworks. Neither Dennis nor Tom wants to be outdone by the other. They will do whatever it takes to win racing or freestyle. They both would break their trucks in half if that's what it took to outperform the other."
"It's really awesome to watch these guys in action. There's intensity in the air and you just know you're in for a real spectacle. This is one of those things you have to see in person, TV doesn't do it justice. These two guys battle it out from week to week like it is the last time they will ever be in a truck. I guess we will see what happens in Minneapolis?"
"The 199 truck - yeah, Travis Pastrona has jumped into the monster truck scene. His crew chief for years, Cam McQueen, is driving his truck, and he's doing an outstanding job. I was worried to death after watching all those videos of Travis and his friends doing really crazy stuff. I didn't know what to expect from Cam, but I've got to tell you, this guy is the real deal. He's smooth, has good throttle rhythm, and he ain't scared to get the job done. He doesn't just go all crazy; he's more methodical when he's driving. Puts on a hell of a show!"
The filter that K&N provides for the trucks was specifically designed for your application and we've heard claims that it is saving thousands of dollars in rebuild costs - talk a bit about that if you would?
"When K&N and the Monster Jam fleet got together, K&N worked very closely with our engine builder Richard Midgette. Together they came up with a custom design that's works like a champ for our application. We went through a little R&D at first, but the engineers at K&N came up with a filter that moves roughly the same amount of air, as not having a filter on at all, plus it's as tuff as nails."
"Talk about a lifesaver though, these filters get the tar beat out of them. Have you watched our shows? We put those filters through a lot and they hang in there through bumps, jumps and wicked doughnuts. If those filters were to fail, we would lose tons of money. With all the dirt that gets thrown around and tossed in the air, we need a good filter that not only is tough, but keeps the harsh elements out of our 1500hp motors."
"Talk about a cost savings too, not only do they hold up under the abuse, but all we have to do is wash 'em off, put another coat of the oil on, and they are ready for the next show."
Are there any future plans for Monster Jam that you would care to share with us?
"I think the fans are in for a real treat in 2010. We are changing our format a little in some of the smaller arenas. It's going to be a freestyle mania event. We are going to rock the house from the time the fans sit down, until it's time to leave. I cannot wait myself."
"I really like to thank K&N for their support and help, and to our other sponsors for helping us out so much. Just remember, you can buy your K&N air filter at any Advance Auto Parts."
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K&N Engineering, Inc., with headquarters in Riverside, California, has been the world's leader in performance filter technology since 1969, serving the needs of the automotive, motorcycle, marine, industrial and military markets. K&N is heavily involved in nearly every form of motorsports from off-road and powersports to drag racing, stock cars and road racing. For more information about K&N Filters, please contact K&N Engineering, Inc., P.O. Box 1329, Riverside, CA 92502-1329, (800) 213-4182 for a dealer near you, (800) 858-3333 for technical service/questions, (951) 826-4001 Fax, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit www.knfilters.com.
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