Before accepting this monstrous responsibility, Phil Foster gained some valuable experience on the Monster Jam series. Foster has driven big name trucks like High Roller, Bulldozer, and most recently Hot Wheels for Tom Meents Racing. However, in 2005 Foster will get behind the wheel of Maximum Destruction. He sat down with Robert Haught and discussed what he’s learned from his boss and what being asked to drive Maximum Destruction means to him.
Robert Haught – How do you feel about being selected to drive Maximum Destruction alongside a champion like Tom Meents? I assume this is a huge step up for you?
Phil Foster – Yeah, I think it’s cool and I’m honored. I get to drive a whole lot harder, and from another perspective, I almost have to work harder than Tom because of all the expectations that come with the truck. I’m going to have to live up to his wild & crazy but successful reputation. It’ll be pretty fun and a good rush.
RH – How do you feel about Tom Meents as a person? What can you tell us about the things he’s taught you?
PF – Tom is really picky about who he hires; he’s the guy that wants to make sure that his guys can work on the trucks before they drive them. If a guy can’t work on the truck, then he probably doesn’t have a good idea or understanding of how it works or what it can do. If something breaks, he may not know what it could be or how it can be fixed. He gives them good experience as far as working on the truck; they have to work hard and learn the truck inside and out before they get in the seat. Tom once told me the hardest thing about driving a monster truck was driving it in and out of the trailer with the small tires. I did a lot of practice with that (laughs).
RH – Can you give us a bit of background on how you got started working for Tom, and how long you had worked for him before you got the opportunity to drive?
PF – It was actually through Neil Elliott (former Meents Racing driver). I was friends with him and shortly after Tom hired him, I went out to the shop one day to visit. I had heard about Tom but I didn’t really know him or anything. I was out there and he put a wrench in my hand and told me to do something. I said, “OK,” and did it. The next weekend he asked me to go with him to New Jersey because he didn’t have anyone else available so I said yes. I had rarely ever been out of Illinois. We did the show in New Jersey, and I worked part time for almost a year for him. I’ve been driving for two years now.
RH – What do you think Tom expects from you as a Maximum Destruction driver?
PF – Tom wants any truck that bears the name Maximum Destruction to run hard but most importantly put on a good show for the fans. I feel like I’m ready to do that.
RH – Do you feel any pressure now that your name will be associated with Maximum Destruction?
PF- Not really; my main focus is giving the fans a good show and running as hard as I can.
RH – Will you change your driving style much to suit the truck?
PF – Definitely – I will go all out and hope to live up to the name! I have to have a different style to be able to race and freestyle harder. I’ve driven the truck several times and I can confidently say I’m comfortable in it now. To me, it’s all about the driver feeling comfortable in the truck. I am really looking forward to the first show in Houston and just putting on a great show!
RH – What can you tell us about Team Meents’ search for drivers and Kevin Lewis?
PF – Well, Neil Elliott quit earlier in the year; he needed to stay at home more. Our new guy, Kevin Lewis, has been with us for about six months and is doing a very good job. He will be driving this year; we’re not quite sure what truck, but most likely Hot Wheels. I’ll be driving the second Maximum Destruction for our “second team,” and Tom will be on the “first team.” We aren’t sure on the fourth driver yet.
RH – Do you feel like you will teach Kevin a lot of things that Tom taught you?
PF – Yeah, a little bit. Tom usually points out little things about how to drive the truck; the biggest thing is that the driver is comfortable, and you can’t learn any other way then getting in there and figuring out what works. Kevin’s been doing a great job so far. Tom has definitely helped me adjust and get better and I hope that I can do the same for Kevin. I originally had some trouble getting used to driving in smaller areas and going to a bigger arena the next week, but Tom helped me through that and now it’s no problem at all. It’s just different styles of driving.
RH – Is there anything you would like to tell the monster truck fans on the internet?
PF – I tell you what, there are a lot of rumors and things people hear, and things like that. If anyone ever has a question about things like that, try to get ahold of one of us if they really want to know what’s going on. They can have someone get ahold of us, and we’ll tell them.
AllMonster.com thanks Phil Foster and the entire Meents Racing team for their time and support.