GLENDALE, Ariz. - Families from all across the valley gathered to enjoy a night of stunts, flips, and burning rubber in Saturday night’s Monster Jam at University of Phoenix Stadium.
Since Monster Trucks is not a spectacle that garners many consistent fans, many of the drivers were eager to showcase their driving skills in Glendale, including Buddy Tompkins, who drives the Razin Kane truck.
The Florida native, who has now been competing for three years, said he was excited to compete in the domed stadium for his first time ever.
““It’s great out here. The fans are top-notch, the stadium’s state-of-the-art, so I’m looking forward to being here for my first time,” he said. “It’s nice to come out here and show [the audience] what we got.”
There were three events in which drivers from across the country could demonstrate their skills in maneuvering the colorful, monstrous vehicles they pilot: the wheelie competition, a short race segment, and the main event of the night, the freestyle competition.
The wheelie competition was wrought with accidents and harsh landings as drivers attempted to get their vehicles in as vertical a position as possible. The most successful competitor in this category was 19-year-old Rosalee Ramer, who drives Wild Flower in the series. This was her first victory in the category.
The next segment of the night, which consisted of one-on-one qualifying rounds leading up to a main race between the fastest qualifying trucks, showcased the impressive rivalry between Adam Anderson’s Grave Digger and Todd LeDuc’s Monster Energy.
After a tense head-to-head battle, LeDuc defeated Anderson after the Grave Digger faltered on one of the hills on the track.
Though the night had already been filled with it’s fair share of excitement, the best was yet to come in an event in which drivers could truly let go and display their raw talent and skill in the gargantuan vehicles.
“In freestyle it’s really kind of a free-for-all,” explained Marc McDonald, who drives El Toro Loco. “There’s going to be a lot of good trucks in front of me and a lot of good trucks behind me, so we’re happy just to go out there and take it jump by jump and race by race.”
Though there were many stunts and displays of skill made by each of the drivers, LeDuc came out on top once again with his well-executed flips and jumps.
LeDuc, who hails from nearby Peoria, couldn’t contain his excitement and pride at winning in what he considers his hometown stadium.
Though every driver has their sights set on taking a victory home at the end of any event, many of them stress the importance of simply entertaining audience members in the hopes of gaining new fans and creating an experience that the whole family can enjoy.
“They need to come out and see it. Once you come to see a show one time, then you’re hooked,” said Roy Pridgeon, who drives Ice Cream. “I have never talked to anybody that once they came one time they didn’t want to come back. It’s a great event to see in real life.”