Monster Jam has become a staple for many families across the region every Valentine’s Day weekend. For some, attending the high-flying truck shows is a tradition that will never be broken. Fans will scream and cheer for their favorite drivers flying up to 35 feet in the air at up to 100 miles per hour!
The party starts tonight (Feb. 13) with a special Superheroes and Sweethearts Valentine’s Day Party in celebration of the Iron Man Monster Truck’s debut in Pittsburgh. Kids can design a superhero mask, build a superhero glider, and create Valentine’s Day cards along with many other special activities. In addition, fans can get an up-close look at the Iron Man Monster Truck and meet the driver, Lee O’Donnell.
“I’d like to see Iron Man Posters,” said O’Donnell. “You never know what might happen if you do. I run up in the stands with souvenirs, but only if I see Iron Man posters. I’m famous for running up into the stands, especially in the nosebleed seats since those people don’t get the same effect of the people in the front row. That’s where I like to hang out!”
In addition, for every person that attends the Superheroes and Sweethearts Valentines’ Day event, Monster Jam will donate one ticket to a local child through Tickets for Kids, whose mission is to send underprivileged youth and their families to Monster Jam.
This year Monster Jam is bringing a fantastic group of trucks for the Pittsburgh shows featuring the first appearance of Iron Man and many fan favorites like Monster Mutt, Razin’ Kane, Ice Cream Man, Illuminator and Instigator (trucks subject to change without notice). Of course, quite possibly one of the most well-known trucks will be there as well – Grave Digger with driver Gary Porter. Though Porter now drives the iconic green monster truck, he hasn’t forgotten all the fans who helped him gain fame in the Monster Jam world at shows like the Fayette County Fair with his former truck Carolina Crusher.
“I love the sport and I love the fans,” said Porter. “I had a great 15 years in the Crusher and now I’m having a great time with the Grave Digger truck and look forward to coming to Pittsburgh and seeing a lot of fans. Getting to see the fans over all the years and how dedicated they are is amazing. We have second and third generations coming to the show.”
At approximately 12 feet wide and 12 feet tall, Monster Trucks are custom-designed machines built for short, high-powered bursts of speed and can generate 1,500 to 2,000 horsepower. Monster Jam performs shows around the world in both indoor and outdoor arenas – each with their own unique features and perks.
“Both shows are unique,” said Porter. “In the arena, we’re in a controlled environment and the weather doesn’t affect the show, but if it rains outdoors it affects the track tremendously. Though, with outdoor tracks you have more room so there are different things you can do with the truck versus indoors.”
“When you do something really cool and you get the reaction from the fans is amazing,” said O’Donnell. “Like when you win in a stadium and pop out of the truck and instantly have thousands of best friends all cheering. It’s an intoxicating reaction and that’s my favorite part.”
Of course the trucks aren’t without their demands. Keeping such a powerful machine in great shape requires a team of skilled professionals and the show can wreak havoc on the bodies of the drivers.
“The most important thing is that you have to perform and it starts with my team having the truck 100%,” said O’Donnell. “You never want the truck to break down for mechanical reasons. Monday mornings aren’t much fun either after a weekend of arena shows. By the fourth one, you’re usually beat up and just want to take an aspirin and go to bed from all the jumping, landing and sometimes crashing. But, it’s Monster Jam! It’s big, loud and in your face and I’m sure at some point someone will crash and hopefully it’s not me!”
Monster Jam will host four shows this weekend – Friday, Feb. 14 at 7:30 p.m.; Saturday, Feb. 15 at 2:00 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.; and Sunday, Feb. 16 at 2:00 p.m. Fans with tickets for 2:00 p.m. shows on Saturday and Sunday are also invited to a special “Party in the Pit” at 11:00 a.m. each day where fans can check out all the trucks and meet the drivers. Pit Passes are available for all ticketholders for just $10. Tickets start at just $12 for kids and $25 for adults and great seats are still available for all shows. For more information or to purchase tickets, visit www.consolenergycenter.com.