The wheels just keep on turning in the Grave Digger Monster Truck family.
Ryan Anderson, son of iconic Grave Digger truck driver Dennis Anderson, is making HIS driving debut in Cleveland, Valentine’s Day weekend at Quicken Loans Arena. He’s SURE to get your attention with the rumble and roar of Monster Truck Son Uva Digger. That’s right – son of a digger!
- Friday, February 15 @ 7:30pm
- Saturday, February 16 @ 2:00pm & 7:30pm
- Sunday, February 17 @ 2:00pm
I talked with an enthusiastic Ryan Anderson by phone about his father’s influence on his life and about the Monster Jam show.
At 23 years old, Ryan tells me he’s really been racing his whole life. His early start in racing began in the mud. “I started with mud racing and did my first competition when I was 10 years old and WON,” Ryan said. “It was an old junk truck, a model of the bigger Grave Digger truck.”
Mud racing, also called mud bogging, is off-road racing where the goal is for drivers, normally in four-wheel drive vehicles, to plow through mud pits for a length of time. It’s a dirty job but Ryan doesn’t mind doing it. Today, he still does mud racing during his off time with Monster Jam.
Winning his first mud racing competition at 10 was special for Ryan because he won it at a place where his own father, Grave Digger Dennis Anderson had once raced when he was younger. “It was like going back in history, taking a trip down memory lane. I was actually racing some of the guys my father had raced against,” Ryan said.
The racing bug is contagious in the Anderson family. In addition to dad and Ryan racing, older brother Adam competes in Monster Jam. There’s a 10-year old brother who competes in mud racing. And Ryan says his 15-year old sister soon will be competing. “We are very competitive. It doesn’t matter if we’re pushing grocer carts around,” Ryan said laughing.
Ryan’s mom, however, doesn’t drive monster trucks, but she’s an E.M.T. Yes - Emergency Medical Technician. Ryan said respectively of his mom’s profession, “it’s kind of a contradiction.” He added, “She definitely understands how they [monster trucks] work."
Growing up in a high-flying, wheelie family was normal for Ryan. “I went to a normal school and had friends like everybody else,” Ryan told me.
When it came to toys, Ryan says his father would get him and his brothers vehicles when they were five and six years old. “We would crash ‘em and bash ‘em. It taught us how to drive. When the lights would go out, we’d come inside the house and play video games, but we didn’t want an Xbox. We wanted old trucks. By far, we lived a gear-head childhood. We were into driving and working on the mechanics of things. I’ve always been intrigued with how things work.”
With all of Ryan’s enthusiasm for driving heavy-hitting trucks, I HAD to ask him how he did in driver’s education, to which he laughed but firmly replied, “I did well”.
The Anderson family has built a 15-acre empire on the coast of North Carolina, where they house and build monster trucks.
Ryan started competing in Monster Jam about four years ago and has been competing ever since. He’s raced all over the United States, Canada, Mexico, and even done a Latin American tour with Monster Jam.
He first drove a monster truck when he was 16 years old. “We had just completed a new truck in the shop. Dad told me to climb in. I took it for a spin on the track.” Ryan said his plan was ONLY to take the truck on flat ground. But, Grave Digger dad Dennis Anderson had other plans for son Ryan.
“He taught me how to line it up and hit it," Ryan said. “I actually hit it a little too fast the first time.” “I came back around the second time and hit it with the proper speed.”
Wheeling a 10-thousand pounds-plus truck IS a dream come true for Ryan. “I’m definitely living a dream. I’m blessed to have this opportunity, but yet I’m still very humbled. My parents raised me not to be bigheaded. We’re just normal people who have a really cool job.”
The Son Uva Digger truck is black and blue, with an eye-catchy paint scheme. Along with several employees, Ryan told me he helped design the truck’s chassis and axles. It took two months to finish.
You’ll get to see Ryan, Grave Digger as well as some of the other favorites, including Cleveland’s own Bari Musawwir (Moo-SOUR-er) driving the Spider-Man Monster Truck, who wowed the crowd last year at The Q.