Six monster trucks took to the dirt and clay of Georgetown Speedway for Monster Truck Madness July 6 and 7, including Bigfoot, the truck that started it all more than 40 years ago.
A pre-event meet and greet started off the evenings, as fans were able to get autographs and pictures taken with the monster truck drivers and crews.
“It’s not for money. We do it to put smiles on the faces of the people attending the event,” said Jeff Gottwald of Knoxville, Tenn., who owns and drives the monster truck The Illuminator.
The Illuminator is his 2008 Ford F2350 with a 1,600 horsepower Chevy big block engine. He has no sponsors for his truck, so he has to foot the bill for repairs and parts.
“We are sponsored by our bank account and our checkbook right now,” he said. “We have only been competing for four years. Some of the other teams who have been doing it for 10 or 20 years have sponsors. We’re not that lucky yet.”
It’s a tall order for the young drivers; a tire alone can cost $1,300. The whole truck can cost $250,000, according Joseph Yatsko from Front Royal, Va., who drives and owns The Equalizer, a 2012 Chevy Silverado.
“We burn methanol alcohol,” said Yatsko, whose son Ritchie drives Hot Tamale. “The trucks have a 871 Blower and the engine can’t be larger than 578 cubic inches, and the trucks have to weigh at least 10,000 pounds.”
The trucks’ bodies are fiberglass.
“The promoters pay for some expenses for us to put on a show,” Gottwald said. “The better the show we put on, the more often we are called back, so that’s incentive to do better. We are out there to win.”
The trucks jump cars and dirt berms, and speed down the dirt track in a drag race-type competition for time. There is also a freestyle competition where anything goes.
Monster trucks compete under the auspices of the Monster Truck Racing Association, the official international organization that emphasizes training and safety, licensing and emergency preparedness to ensure the safety of both spectators and participants at all MTRA-sponsored events.