For almost 30 years, I would go to the monster truck show in Kansas City right around my birthday. Now that I’ve moved to Nashville, it looks like the tradition can continue, albeit a month early, as Monster Jam does the exact same kind of show in Bridgestone Area that they had in the Sprint Center. This event might even draw in a better-known selection of trucks. BHo and I went and checked out all the action last weekend, so I will share that experience with you now.
Bridgestone Arena is a pretty nice place. The floor, which is primarily used as the home of the Predators hockey team, is a little too small for monster trucks, but that seems to be the norm, not the exception. Ideally, these big trucks should compete on a football field-sized area, but there aren’t too many indoor venues like that that can be used in the winter. So we’re left seeing a very restrained version of these shows, with more effort trying to keep things under control instead of showcasing what these vehicles are really capable of.
It is also very expensive to attend one of these events. By the time I paid for parking, tickets, pit passes, and a modest menu of stadium food for one adult and one child, I was into this excursion for better than $120. Plus, even though we showed up hours before the event, the guy in the Bridgestone Arena ticket booth would only sell us seats in the worst part of the building. He refused to sell us better seats, because there were only two of us, and he was saving them for larger groups. We sat six rows from the ceiling—even higher than the scoreboard! You can see everything up there, but it’s not very personal, and that’s where all the smoke and fumes end up.
The other thing I didn’t really like is that they never really smashed any cars. I mean, come on, that’s what these events are for! There were cars out there, and they moved them around with a forklift all night. But once it was time for the freestyle competition, they just took them off the floor. It was really weird. Usually they keep the cars and add a motorhome or van or something for them to destroy, but not here. With such a little space to work with, they need to maximize the potential for action.
They had several “competitions.” I put that in quotes because they all appear to be more for show and not for actual competition. But anyway, the monster trucks race, they have a wheelie competition, they run through an obstacle course, and they have the freestyle competition. Really, everybody’s just waiting for the freestyle competition. That’s last. The rest of it seems more like time filler to try and give people their money’s worth. They also had quad-runner races, which don’t appear to be real races. They had a guy that blew himself up in a wooden box. And later his wife shot herself out of a cannon into a net.
I have mixed thoughts about this form of motorsports. On one hand, I still like being able to go watch some loud, technically sophisticated vehicles traverse impossible obstacles effortlessly. There is a family-friendly nature to these events, including the autograph signing party before the show ($20 extra, please), which is why I like being there with BHo. But sometimes I wonder how this can be so popular, when short tracks and other racing venues that actually have real racing are struggling right now. I wish someone that runs a late model stock car series could figure out how to bottle up the excitement that these monster truck shows generate.
So for as much as I complain, I’m still glad I went, and I’m sure I’ll do it again next year. I think it could be a lot better, but I suppose everything could be better if you want to nitpick it. I took some pictures, too. See them in the slideshow below, or click this link for a nicer version.