MONSTER JAM MAKES GIANT INROADS
THERE is motorsport and then there is Monster Jam.
It could not be any more different, if you tried, from this weekend’s Bathurst 1000.
The Great Race is all about 1000 kilometres of competition in cars that look a bit like a road-going Commodore or Falcon or Volvo V60 or Nissan Altima. Winning is the big thing, and the only thing, in what in reality is the grand final each year for V8 Supercars racing.
By contrast, Monster Jam is about playing — the right word — to a kids-first audience that’s all about entertainment. Nobody really cares who wins because it’s the spectators who win.
Bathurst draws a huge crowd each year and is the television highlight of the season with some great racing and inevitable prangs, but Monster Jam regularly packs converted football stadiums with more than 35,000 fans for a one-night show.
I’m won over during two frantic hours when I see what a Monster truck can really do, from 10-metre leaps to backflips off the back of specially-built dirt jumps.
They barely hit 100km/h but their bellowing 1200kW supercharged engines allow them to almost defy the laws of physics, although six of the 12 starters end the night with mechanical failures and three lose wheels in the freestyle competition.
Kids love battling beasties with names like Grave Digger and Zombie and Monster Mutt, with drivers who always put the crowds first. They sign autographs and give truck tours for five hours before the action begins, then the winners of various competition categories give their trophies away to the crowd, before signing again “until the last fan is happy”.
V8 Supercars and Monster Jam both have their place, and their fans, but the actionpacked US event shows what it takes in 2015 to build a solid future in a world where ‘Win on Sunday, sell on Monday’ is just a faded memory in the car business.