Text: Marcus De Guzman / Photos: Patrick De Guzman Cardano | posted June 25, 2015 18:05
6 trucks and a whole lot of dirt
Loud supercharged V8s, mud and debris flying in every direction, the smell of methanol filling the arena and the crowd cheering and egging the drivers on to floor the throttle and get the trucks airborne. The Manila leg of Monster Jam was quite the feast for the senses.
Everyone from adults, seniors and kids enjoyed the sights, sounds and smells that this American motoring spectacle offered last June 20 – 21, 2015 at the SM Mall of Asia Arena.
Monster Jam Manila kicked off with the Pit Party which began at 11:00AM. Fans who bought the Pit Party Pass were able to access the dirt track where they were able take check out and take pictures of each monster truck in attendance. Also present during the Pit Party were the drivers that will soon be making the trucks leap.
The very famous 'Grave Digger' was piloted by Jon Zimmer who has been dubbed as one of the fastest qualifiers of the sport. Ryan Anderson, the son of famous monster truck driver Dennis Anderson, was also there and drove Son-Uva Digger. Dragon's driver Scott Liddycoat is new to Monster Jam but has been in the motorsports scene for 20 years. Prior to his career in driving 5-ton trucks, he has already bagged awards in racing hydroplanes.
It wouldn't be chaos in Monster Jam if Max-D and its driver, Neil Elliot were not part of it. Known for doing the nearly impossible double backflip, veteran driver Elliot is also known for several awards in the motor sport like Big Air in 2012 and Freetyle and Wheelie of the Year in 2013.
The relatively new Zombie was driven by newcomer Bari Musawwir. Prior to Monster Jam, he has no background in motorsports though he was discovered by the motorsport due to his performances in the R/C scene. The only lady driving a monster truck in the Manila leg is Cynthia Gauthier who piloted El Toro Loco. Don't let her looks fool you as not only does she know how to drive a monster truck, but she also has a background in cars, dirt-biking and off-road buggying.
As soon as the clock struck 1PM, the crowd had to clear out of the pits as the track was about to be prepped while the drivers had to get ready for the 2PM show. The monster trucks also had to be taken in to make the final checks before the drivers were able to start their 9.0-liter supercharged Chevy Merlin V8s that pump out a staggering 1500 PS of power.
A momentous buildup was set just minutes before the start of the Saturday afternoon show which included a countdown and a short video preview that showed how the trucks performed from past shows.
Come showtime the crowd was greeted with loud, angry and visceral roars of the monster trucks' supercharged engines. One by one, each truck made its presence known by going around the dirt track and revving their engines up to the redline.
The first event kicked off with the Wheelie Contest where drivers battle it out in making the trucks go vertical. Zombie and El Toro Loco put up quite a show but they were all eclipsed by Max-D who won the contest.
After that came the Race segment which sort of combined drag racing and obstacle jump into one. Two trucks would line up and face each other from opposite directions and will wait for the lights to go green. Whoever reaches the line at the middle of the track wins. The overall winner of this event was Zombie who was able to secure victories all the way to the finals.
Probably the most fun and messiest contest in Monster Jam is the donut contest. As the name implies, the behemoths duked it out to see who made the most spectacular drift. Scoring the best run of them all was Grave Digger who managed to perfectly execute it.
The last segment of Monster Jam was the Freestyle event where the drivers were given free rein on the track. Want to jump from one end of the track to the other? Sure. Crush some old-school Nissan Sentras while you're there? Why not? Go crazy and mess up the dirt track? Most definitely yes! Grave Digger also came out on top on this competition though the truck itself apparently got quite banged up as sparks were flying underneath it.
Aside from the towering trucks, the event also showed an All-Terrain Vehicle (ATV) race and multiple stunts and tricks that were performed by dirt bikers. From scary backflips to 'The Superman' and the 'Look ma no-hands' trick, the bikers pulled it off without a hitch.
It is this spectacle's first time in the country and from the looks on people's faces and their reactions to the 'monster' of a show, it is safe to say that the 2015 Monster Jam Manila made quite an impression to everyone.