Archives for July 2002

Moto GP and Monsters

Monster trucks are intense, with some of the best rivalries and battles in any motor sport today. Whether it’s Ryan Anderson in Son Uva Digger taking on Tom Meents in Maximum Destruction or Dennis Anderson’s Grave Digger doing work against Damon Bradshaw’s Monster Energy, things are always going down at a monster truck event. Another great event is Moto GP. While it doesn’t have the fan base that a lot of other motor sports have, it is certainly growing in popularity.

Damon Bradshaw and Alex Blackwell both have experience in motocross, as does Frank Schettini of Big Dummy Motorsports. This two-wheel transition to monster trucks has been quite entertaining and farmed some great drivers from other forms of motorsports. Is a driver from Moto GP next? We will see, but an interesting phrase to note—“throttle rhythm is throttle rhythm” is a phrase I hear being used a lot, and it’s quite true. Some of the most successful drivers in any sport, monster trucks included, grew up on something with an engine constantly. Jon Zimmer started in Snocross. Many drivers, Meents and Tim Mente of Storm Damage included, started in mud bogging. George Balhan was a Quad Wars racer, and the Jolly sisters were swamp buggy racers. The list goes on for a long time.

I am a fan of people becoming drivers after working on trucks for a long time and earning their spot, but if not through that route, I’m definitely a fan of hiring drivers that have prior motorsports experience.  This will foster a better on-track product for the future of monster trucks, and I’m a fan of bringing people from Moto GP or wherever the talent is deemed quite transferrable to monster trucks. Whether it’s from within or outside monster trucks, I want to see a great product on track, as well as the sport growing. Don’t you?

It’s true that monster trucks are different, and there’s no denying that there is a learning curve. I would vote that a driver like Charlie Pauken come in after his full-time driving days are over and teach all the young drivers the “tricks of the trade” so that new drivers have some great training instead of being thrown into a big stadium, or small arena, and learning with a “trial by fire” attitude. Throttle rhythm is developed with seat time and by watching and learning and studying others. Pauken is the man for that job, and I sincerely hope to see his knowledge and teaching abilities be put to good use whenever the day comes that he isn’t thrilling fans worldwide. Paul Cohen, a great driver in his own right, learned from Pauken his rookie year. Frank Krmel was paired with Pauken and soaked up plenty of knowledge. The list goes on, and hopefully, so will the great driving—regardless of source! It would definitely be interesting to see a Moto GP driver make sense of a monster truck and take to the course. Hopefully that happens one day!