That about sums up the expectations at the pit party, at which Bobby Nitro certainly did not expect a massive turnout of thousands of revved up fans.
That’s right, a convoy of giant American vehicles and their pilots descended on the Mother City last weekend for the Monster Truck Juggernaut Monster Jam®.
Everybody was there. The pit party was hosted on the cricket field adjacent to the Cape Town Stadium, with all eight trucks on display and drivers signing autographs and merchandise flowing.
Zombie driver Bari Musawwir, who started out at the other end of the spectrum with radio controlled cars, says: “Who would have thought we’d be here, looking out at tons of fans in Cape Town. I can’t wait to show you guys what a Monster truck can do.”
It being an all-American jol, Bobby thought it wise to bring along his own American, to translate as it were, and fill him in on some of the culture behind these behemoths and the show they create. Apparently, the kids have the toys, and the T-shirts, the supporters choose a truck and stick by it. Drivers come and go, but the truck remains.
Settling into our mid-tier seats the first thing Bobby noticed was that the seats right up on the field were empty, likely for safety reasons. It reminded Bobby of the gladiators of Rome, where those closest to the action got the added risky thrill of a possible javelin through the head.
The crowd, and there was a serious crowd, consisted of a charming mix of bemused check-shirted dads trailing after bedecked superfan 11-year-olds, and bakore leatheries with workshop hands gargling watery beer. Awesome.
The excitement was so palpable that when a golf cart trundled out like some lost Wall-E extra, the kwaai Capetonians broke into cheers.
Then the big boys arrived. Fifteen hundred horses thrumming out of V8 ethanol fueled supercharged motors, crazy bespoke bodywork and driven by pumped athletes ready to battle it out for track supremacy.
First event was the races, two cars, two jumps and a straight. Seeing a Monster Truck go airborne for the first time, it was as if time slowed down and Bobby was propelled straight in to petrolkop heaven, or at least a sideshow to the big destination. Racing was all about the tight cornering, if that can even be done in a 4.5 ton beast with tyres as high as your head.
Max-D won the races in a head-to-head against powerful predator Megalodon, and this set Max-D driver Colton Eichelberger on the road to ultimate victory at the event after he took the donut competition, too.
And it’s the fans who judge the events, linked to a judging site through phones, each fan can score each run, and the results are compiled into a people’s choice for winner. Bobby’s token American quipped: “That’s the most democracy you’ll see in a long time.”
The donut is all about speed, creativity, control and that wow factor when the centrifugal forces combine with the slide to send the careening behemoths up on two wheels. The more sensible drivers slow it down, while the thrill seekers send more power.
Colton, who says his favourite part of his truck is the spikes, was one of those thrill-makers, and Bobby had to wonder what was going through his head as he hung upside down in the cab, having turtled his truck, but still winning the comp. Pushing it way past the edge here is celebrated.
Interestingly, this guy pushed it so hard, going the extra angle for sheer entertainment, that he rolled that truck twice, leaving those spikes scattered across the dirt like so many broken teeth. He did have the good grace to throw a few to the baying crowds for souvenirs.
The freestyle comp, that ended off the nights revelries, was a wild and loose display of Monster Truck antics that literally leveled the track. Then came the moment the crowd had been waiting for, Monster Energy sidles up to the flip ramp, takes a run at it and lands, lands nogal, a 360 flip that had the fans on their feet. Driver Steven Sims was a shoo-in for freestyle gold.
The evening’s excitement came thick and fast. Somewhere in the middle Bobby remembers a crew of world-class bikers making insane jumps. And that was just a sideshow.
That’s all folks.