MONSTER JAM SESSION
Immediately after Dave (Heavy D) Sparks finished his first full test session at a Monster Jam stadium track with the Duramax diesel-powered Brodozer monster truck, we sat down with Diesel Dave, Sparks, alternate driver, driving coach, and crew member Colt Stephens, and Monster Jam Vice President of Operations Bill Easterly to talk about the diesel program. We spoke with the team about the Brodozer truck specifically as well as the future of diesel engines in Monster Jam competitions. Here’s some of what we learned.
UDBG: What’s the difference between driving a “regular” monster truck and the Brodozer diesel truck? SPARKS: I spent time at the Monster Jam University learning and driving the methanol trucks, and really they are just two totally different animals. There is no comparison. One is straight rocket ship and the other is kind of like ice skating. The diesel is the rocket ship, and when it gets in the powerband it pulls and just keeps on going. We are pulling 5,600 rpm and it is making tons of power. STEPHENS: It requires some driving style changes and is a more technical drive. EASTERLY: There’s some lag off the line, but the diesel does not blow off the tires off the line like the methanol trucks. SPARKS: As long as you can learn to stay in the throttle without over-throttling, it will just pull hard and it is very fast. We have a transbrake in this truck to help us spool on the starting line, where most of the other trucks do not. It’s odd, but we actually have less torque off the line than the blown trucks.
EASTERLY: We’re just scratching the surface on the diesel performance engine. We have 20 years’ experience with the methanol engines and this is the first time on the track with the diesel. We are very impressed and proud of how it is performing. UDBG: Do you think Monster Jam fans will react favorably to the diesel engine, especially being that it is quieter than the blown methanol engines? SPARKS: I was worried that the turbos were going to muffle the engine too much—you can barely hear it when you start it—but once it spools it sounds like a jet engine and we think the fans will love it! EASTERLY: We think it will be of great interest to the fans since there are a lot of people in the stands who drive diesel trucks. Once they realize it’s competitive we will develop a solid fan base with the truck. SPARKS: Our goal is zero smoke with the diesel, so we have a little way to go. It is so clean for the power that we are making with it. EASTERLY: We had to build the power without the smoke since people have had a bad taste with diesel smoke in the past from old diesel engines of the ’80s to modern emissions scandals. But we had to leave a little smoke there for easy recognition that it is a diesel. The diesel burns less fuel, so by volume alone it is much more efficient than the methanol trucks, making it green by volume since we are burning less fuel. The methanol is also much more expensive so there will be a cost savings as well. SPARKS: I feel safer being in a diesel knowing that there is much less fire risk in the truck versus a methanol engine. Fans can actually see the driver’s driving style and when he is on and off the throttle with a little smoke versus just the sound of the blower motors.
UDBG: Have there been any thoughts about adding more diesel engine trucks to the fleet of competition trucks on the Monster Jam tours? EASTERLY: For sure, we are on the cusp of a whole new world with the diesel. Our European market has been asking for diesel-powered trucks for some time now. I foresee that hypothetically in the future that we could run an entire tour outside the country with diesel engines powering all the trucks.
We have more work to do. The truck is actually getting a complete new chassis built starting next week, and we have some work to go on making it cleaner still. We want to be able to take it indoors and run the arenas, not only outdoor stadiums. SPARKS: We set the fastest race time in practice today, but we are only at around 70% of what that engine is capable of doing right now, so we have a lot more room to grow power-wise.
UDBG: Are there any plans to have the truck on display at any of the major diesel events nationwide? EASTERLY: We don’t have any plans at this minute, but there easily could be that arrangement. There are definitely a few places it could end up on display.
We sat down with Diesel Dave, Heavy D, Colt Stephens, and Monster Jam Vice President of Operations Bill Easterly (left to right) to discuss the Duramax diesel-powered Brodozer and the future of diesel Monster Jam trucks.
It seemed like Sparks wanted to give us a great shot of the Duramax diesel engine while he was practicing for the Two-wheel Skills Challenge, and made this amazing save after getting the truck completely vertical with the rear tire sitting flat on the ground.