There are few motoring creations more awesome than the Monster Truck. The name itself breeds images of colossal scale and impending destruction. A hench and jagged frame, mind blowing suspension, and, in some cases, a painted set of growling teeth. The UK may be a tiny fraction of the US in size but it’s no let-down when it comes to creating vehicular beasts with wheels that weigh four times that of a baby elephant. Here are some household names in the world of UK Monster Trucks.
Swamp Thing – Driven by Tony Dixon
Swamp Thing is just the latest name for a Monster Truck which is steeped in history. Originally built in America and once known as Dragon Slayer, it is based on a Dan Patrick Chassis and weighs in at a mighty 5 tons. Following being shipped back to the UK and refurbished over a two year period, it emerged as Swamp Thing with a Ford 2004 F350 Super Duty Body paint, don by driver Tony Dixon himself. Swamp Thing is 11ft high, a massive 19ft long and boasts a methanol injected 540 cubic inch tall block, BDs Supercharger by RND Engineering.
Tony Dixon originally trained as a motor vehicle paint sprayer and has come a long way to the Monster Truck master he has become. He is currently working on BIGFOOT17, which is the first BIGFOOT Monster Truck project In the UK. He holds a number of accolades for his performances in various championships.
Video: Swamp Thing jumps clean over cars: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZGoZfJ_Sw5w
Podzilla – Driven by Drew Thornton
This Dino of a truck shares its name with a hydraulic lift system which moves metal storage containers in the US, giving some indication of its might. Based on a Chevy K1500, Podzilla produces 1350bhp on methanol that propels the 5 ton leviathan to speeds of 65mph within 6 seconds. It is said to be the first UK built Monster Truck.
Drew Thornton mans the wheel of Podzilla and has driven Monster Trucks professionally across Europe for over five years. He retired after coming 3rd in the European Monster Truck Championships in 2006, but has since been plucked from his rest by Santa Pod Raceway to drive Podzilla as an exhibition vehicle at the Nationals this summer. He will sit behind an 8 litre methanol off-shore power boat spec engine and 1000ft pounds of torque.
As tires the size of sheds aren’t in huge demand, most monster trucks need their tires shaved of excess weight as they don’t arrive perfect. Podzilla sits on light weight shaved tires which help reduce the overall weight by a quarter of a ton. The tires are a massive 66 inches in diameter and worth £1800 ($2700) a piece.
Video: Podzilla in action: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lTeV_LpQr78
Crusher – Driven by Lewis Cook
With a name resembling that of a bad-guy Transformer, Crusher is a perfect appetite-wetter for Monster Truck fans who love their destruction. Built in 2005, Crusher is a relatively young machine. The fiberglass version of a 1997 Ford F150 has received a few recent refurbishments and is a huge 10ft high, 12ft wide and a BDS supercharger with top hat methanol injection. The axels are of JCB origin but are heavily modified, as is the custom built ‘drop box’, motorsport engine and two-per-wheel fully adjustable air-over-oil shock absorbers. Crusher’s tires may have similar credentials as its rival Podzilla – at 66 inches in diameter – but they’re worth a combined £8000 ($12100).
The 4 wheel drive machine first competed at the UK Monster Truck Nationals at Santa Pod Raceway in 2008 and has since been a real favourite, due to grace the arena once again at this year’s finals in August. At the Nationals in 2011, current driver Lewis Cook fell victim to a miscalculated crush during a 90 second freestyle event in front of 10,000 fans and was stranded vertically for over 6 minutes before being rescued by a crane.
Video: Crusher’s vertical upset: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kSYs5NKdeqc
Slingshot Monster Truck – Driven by Karl Swallow
Karl Swallow was the legendary owner and driver of the mighty Slingshot – a beast that was the first European truck to jump a bus. He tragically suffered a heart attack last year and passed away in his prime. It didn’t deter him, however, as his passion for driving his massive truck took him through any pain he felt following a failed kidney transplant.
Karl was involved in the Monster Truck Racing Association Europe from the beginning and later served as a Director. In November 2011 he performed in Slingshot in front of more than 30,000 fans in the Bahrain Motor Show, a feat which he called a ‘great honor’ and one he wished to repeat.
He will be remembered for being the first European driver to run in the USA and for taking his aspirated truck to third place in the 2004 series. He had an incredible driving style which earned him a legion of fans, with wide open assaults on freestyle obstacles.
Video: Tribute to Karl’s legendary antics: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kWeNNzOdcMg
Now time for something a little different…
Armour Gedden – Driven by Steve Murty
If there was ever a Truck to fear it was this. Steve Murty is the driver of this monster on treads and sells the machine as a ‘Car Crushing Tank,’ and it does exactly what it says on the tin. Painted up like a super villain brandishing a skull and crossbones, this is one you won’t want to miss.
About the Author
Abby Driver is a Multi-Journalism graduate from Bournemouth University. Currently working in London, Abby writes for a number of different publications and websites including car finance specialists Creditplus.co.uk. For more cool, fun and interesting articles about the world of motoring please visit the Creditplus blog.