Black Stallion Racing and Michael Vaters Monster Truck Motorsports

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Michael Vaters and his wife Denise
Michael Vaters and his wife Denise
You hear it all the time; racers saying it's a "family sport" or racing is "my life." But rarely are they being literal. And then there is Michael Vaters. The founder and owner of Black Stallion Racing and Vaters' Monster Motorsports has lived and breathed Monster Trucks since he was 18. For 29 years, the now 47-year-old Maryland native has raced all over the United States, competing at every major event in the country, and capturing countless trophies.
The Black Stallion Monster Truck stands tall for the crowd
The Black Stallion Monster Truck stands tall for the crowd

"We work 7 days a week," Vaters said when talking about the family business. "It's rare that we take a day off. Our vacations are in the city we are racing in at the time."

It all started with Mike's first truck, a 1982 Ford F-250. After creating his own lift kit, the truck grew too much. It became illegal, and the only place left for it was the Monster Truck circuit. Vaters was a pioneer in the early days of organized Monster racing, campaigning his original Black Stallion before building the world renowned Boogey Van. But the Black Stallion remained his passion, and in 2000 it reappeared. Now, Vaters runs a three truck team, with Stallion joining Iron Warrior and the brand new Higher Education. While most big name trucks are either owned by major promoters or are backed by factory sponsors, Vaters' team is completely funded out of pocket. The sponsors on each truck provide product, but all of the teams financial expenses come out-of-pocket.
Michael Vaters taking photos near his Black Stallion Monster Truck
Michael Vaters taking photos near his Black Stallion Monster Truck

"We are frugal with our travel expenses. Instead of hotels, we stay in our hauler, which has full living quarters. We also prepare most of our meals in the hauler, instead of eating out," Vaters added. "We repair broken parts if possible, where most teams would just throw them out. We also complete all of our work in house. We built all three trucks from the ground up, from fabrication to paint to the mechanical work."

The team recently invested in two jet-powered quads, Kamikaze and Psycho, which has provided them with an opportunity to earn more income by booking all three trucks and both quads at each event. The quads require minimal maintenance and take up relatively little space in the teams second hauler.

Vaters also founded his promotion company, which last year was voted as Promoter of the Year by the Monster Truck Racing Association. The promotion company allows Vaters to stay busy during the off-racing season. But racing is where Black Stallion thrives. Earlier this month, Vaters' team cleaned up at the Thunder Nationals in Wichita Falls, Texas. The team captured 2 racing wins, 2 runner-ups, and two wheelie competition victories. Other trucks at the competition included Grave Digger, Blue Thunder, Captain's Curse and Madusa, each of whom has competed at the Monster Jam World Finals in the last two years. The weekend reminded Vaters of why he loves the sport so much.

"It's a great feeling when all of your hard work pays off. It's a two-fold victory, especially looking around you in the pits and seeing all the big money backed corporate trucks that you beat. The best part is bragging to our sponsors about it after. They get to see what type of value they are getting in return."

At an age where most drivers would start thinking about retiring, especially with a successful promotion business to manage, Vaters is thinking about how to improve the team. The day-to-day grind isn't easy, but it's all he knows. "It's hard, but the word quit isn't in my vocabulary," he added. "This is all I know, I've been competing since I was 18 and I have no desire to stop any time soon."

Black Stallion Racing has forged a solid relationship with K&N throughout the years. "K&N is a tremendous help to our team. They have gone above and beyond for us over the years, and we really appreciate it. We use K&N's wide selection of products in all of our equipment. We use them in all three of our Monster Trucks, as well as our toter-homes and tow vehicles. We even use K&N Fuel Filters in our jet powered four-wheelers. In my 29 years, I've used or had experiences with similar products to those K&N produces, but nothing else can compete with the quality, endurance and performance of K&N products."

Find K&N products for your vehicle using the K&N application search then use the K&N dealer search to find a K&N dealer in your part of the world.

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