Crush a car for me, sweet Monster Truck. Your carnage is sunlight on the
dead soul in my heart...
-Final verse of 'Ballad of Wrecktile the Truckosaur' by John Saunders
It's the number 3 arena event in North America, behind only NFL
and Spring Home and Garden Shows. Its annual proceeds exceed those of most
non-Western nations. With their dynamic engineering and dazzling
technology, one might be led to think that monster trucking is a new
phenomenon. Not so.
The roots of Monster Trucking (MT) can be traced back to pre-Biblical
times, to the chariot racing of the Sumerians and the legendary Ox Derby of
Mesopotamia. More recently, during the Victorian era, wealthy gentlemen
financed the construction of Demolition Train arenas. Specially outfitted
steam trains would speed around tracks attempting the utter destruction of
one another, as well as delighting the crowds by driving through assorted
items (crates of watermelon, sheets of glass, etc). It is rumoured that
Queen Victoria herself was an avid fan, attending the rallies in disguise.
Modern MT began in the mid-70s, when Bob Chandler's dream of a big,
mean huge, truck, capable of running other trucks over, began to take shape.
In 1979, in Denver, he debuted BigFoot, the most renowned of all Monster
Trucks. Soon after, lesser lights of the field would begin to appear as a
nation caught the fever for trucks with gigantic tires. Car Shark.
Destruck-to. Hammercelerator. Their descendants can be seen semi-annually
at an outdoor arena near you, turning used cars into scrap.
In Canada, the popularity of MT can be seen to rise steadily as you
East to West, reaching a peak on the plains of Alberta, plummeting through
the Rockies, and then skyrocketing back up on the West Coast. This is
thanks to Surrey, BC: Monster Truck Capital of Canada.
It seems only appropriate that Surrey, a one-horse town second in
the province only to Vancouver, should be home to such giant sized fervor.
Just cruising the streets, one can see the locals out in their own Monster
Trucks; whether visiting the video store or heading for a bite to eat at the
historic Canada's First Hooters. Monster Trucking pervades the atmosphere,
and it feels right.
Pulling up a bar stool in Stella's, Surrey's premier MT watering
salt-of-the-Earth quality of the Monster Truckers and their fans is almost
palpable. A young boy eats curly fries at a plaid-clothed table, his eyes
dancing in delight at a derby displayed on the wall-sized Pay Per View TV
screen. Teen lovers clasp grease stained hands as they moon at each other
over milkshakes. A mother nurses her baby, the MT logo tattooed on her
breast jiggling as the infant suckles.
"MT is so damn popular, it don't seem right to say we're just like
folk", driver Greg "Dad Daddy" Ossowski says. "I think maybe it's more
right to say normal people are just like us."
Ossowski is part of Team Carnovortex, based out of Chechemaya,
He's a second generation MTer, following in the footsteps of his father,
"If all goes right," he says, "my daughter Chastity'll pick up
I leave off. Probably right ass-deep in mud and woodchips somewhere in
Texas!" Ossowski laughs. It is the laugh of a contented man.
Julio "Cowdog" Santeria is something of a celebrity in MT circles,
echoes Ossowski's sentiments.
"This is the life man. All that there is to being human, it's
in those trucks. Steering wheel. Roll cage. Gearbox. If Shakespeare
wrote his stuff today, man, he'd write about Monster Trucks."
Santeria is one of a growing number of Latin-American MTers. His
was fast, and he's riding high on it.
"Team BigFoot offered me the driver's seat, but, man, you know?
take it. I built up such a strong team of my own, financed my own truck,
the Aztruck Warrior, it wouldn't have been right. I'm a self made driver."
As he downs has latest shot of tequila, the pride evident in his bearing
could shame a less successful man.
'Self made drivers' such as Santeria are rare in the world of MT.
scout Jack "Scout" Treehorn has made his living finding the talent that
thrills the hordes of MT enthusiasts.
"I think basically I just comb the papers looking for traffic accident
reports. I look for a certain combination of words. 'There was a sole
survivor'. A guy what's got that sort of grit is a born driver. Another
good place is DUI trials. Or Traffic School. I spend a frigging lot of
time at Traffic School." Treehorn drove for a while with Team Trukkor, but
he found the spotlight too confining.
"I had a life. I had a girl, some kids. That's damn hard to hold
traveling the continent, wrecking cars, beating off hormone crazed girlie
fans. It just wasn't for me. I'm happier on the other side of the street."
The faces of Ossowski, Santeria and Treehorn are not as well known
Cruise, or Tom Hanks, or even Tom Everett Scott. But as a truck guns its
motor, speeding through the muddied areas, flying willy nilly over obstacles
and into other trucks, the adoring fans tell us they don't need Hollywood
glamour for a good time. There's mud in their blood, and it's mud that
probably fell off the bumper of a Monster Truck.