In the late eighties and early nineties my father spent just as much time announcing Monster Truck shows as he did truck and tractor pulls. When I was younger I had the distinct honor of riding in the Stomper Truck that was owned by TNT and SRO Pace. There were several drivers of the truck but Marvin Smith was the driver that I got to ride with and I was forever a fan of his. As the years passed and my father transitioned from the monsters, I missed the events that I use to attend. I can still remember my last show was for my 10th birthday in Freedom Hall in Louisville, Kentucky. My dad and Army Armstrong were the announcers for the show, my dad and Army came to school to have lunch with me for my birthday and told me that I could bring five friends to the event coming up later that night. It was an awesome show to say the least and I couldn't thank my dad and Army enough for the wonderful gift.
Last night with the help of a Johnathan and Leslie Mears, as well as former pulling announcer and Monster Jam Legend Scott Douglass, I was able to take in a monster truck event for the first time in twenty one years. I can honestly say that I was just as excited if not more excited then my much younger peers who had made their way to the Edward Jones Dome in beautiful downtown St. Louis, Missouri. From the opening ceremonies which gave me cold chills; as the announcer invited current and former members of the armed services to stand for recognition. After these folks received their resounding wave of applause, another group of folks were asked to stand and that was the family members of the already standing service men and women. In that moment the capacity crowd applauded as one for the hard working and well deserving people who help our country stand strong!
Monster Jam was a production from the opening to final moment that I sat in the seats. The crowd was continually updated by the announcer who truly captured the audiences full attention when he spoke. As an aspiring announcer in the motorsports industry, I often find myself sitting, listening and critiquing my fellow announcers. I have always enjoyed going to events I am not announcing as it gives me a chance to grow and learn from those in the business. I continually found myself trying to reflect on the great demeanor and approach to announcing that one of the voices of MJ brought to the standing room only audience.
The "Monsters" were just as captivating for me last night, as they were when I was a young man. I found myself cheering for a few specific trucks in the field of sixteen that had been assembled in the Show Me State. I cheered loudly when Lindsey Wink and his Lucas Oil Crusader found its way to the final round of racing and I couldn't help but love IronMan, as my three year old nephew truly thought it was the coolest. Watching the crowd cheer and support their personal favorites truly made me want to see that same excitement in pulling.
Attending this event made me wonder what pulling needed to do to have a platform for which to grow, like Monster Jam has? I understand that Monster Jam provides huge venues and an unreal amount of impressions for their sponsors on a daily basis. Just last night there were ten MJ events conducted in arenas and stadiums throughout North America. The television package continues to grow as Speed and MJ seem to be doing wonderful things with their productions.
The message boards for our sport have been booming as of late with a discussion of the Golden Age of pulling. When I look back on the history of the sport it was just a few decades ago that pulling was packing similar venues to the ones Monster Jam is presently, while competitors chased points to win a Chevy pickup and cash on the indoor and outdoor circuit. Is it possible for the sport we all love to recreate the magic days of old? Our current sanctioning bodies are working hard to help the sport grow but what they can't really control are the rising costs of pulling in an economically conscious climate. It is my goal to research the costs and increases over the next few months to truly get an understanding of what it cost to be competitive in the 90's versus today!
Again, I truly can't express how much I loved this event and how appreciative I am for to the Mears' and Mr. Douglass. As always thanks for following the blog and I hope to hear your feedback!