I’m all for being a proud dad, but you can’t take a diaper bag to a monster truck show. In that snarling, spark spewing, ripped t-shirt wearing melee of fuel and dirt and cotton candy, there is no room for a murse. If I had the biceps I would have rolled a diaper up in my t-shirt sleeve, but sadly, I do not.
Monster Truck Wear
First off: If you already have a mullet, No Fear hoodie or any kind of neck tatt, this post is not for you. You already know the wonders of Monster Jam and the proper attire for attendees. If you’re a mild mannered suburban dad whose father never took him to a monster truck show (no matter how many times he was begged) then read on.
As described above, I couldn’t take the diaper bag into the monster truck show. Fortunately I recently received a review sample of the Pipeline Vest from Alaskan Hard Gear, so I wore that.
Alaskan Hard Gear Vest
The vest is a light weight fleece-lined soft shell vest styled and designed for work. It’s more or less the same materials and construction as any backcountry outerwear. I shoved a diaper and bag of wipes in one pocket and two sets of ear protection in the other. The vest has a nice little smartphone pocket in the right picket that holds a phone away from the other crap in the pocket, like your keys, and the random crap your kid picks up off the ground and asks you to cary around. The nice thing about a work vest like this is that any street cred you lose by having a Mickey Mouse diaper and a bag of butt wipes sticking out of your pocket is gained by looking like you know how to fix a drilling rig.
Monster truck shows are usually held in rodeo arenas or fair grounds or other minimally climate controlled arenas. So having a vest is a good way to keep warm without looking like a sissy in front of your fellow monster truck loving dads. The Pipeline vest is light and comfortable and the combo of thin fleece lining with the softshell material protects you from the chill of air from grave digger flying over your head.
Monster Jam Cautions
We’d been in our seats for 15 minutes or so and the natives were getting restless. We’d gone through 1 granola bar and my son and his friend were munching on their second when I heard the rumble from the tunnel at the opposite end of the arena. “DUDE THE MOSTER TRUCK IS COMING!!!!” I yelled into his ear.
He stopped chewing. The rumble got louder. His face was blank.Then Maximum Destruction roared into the arena, it’s body covered in spikes and skulls, it’s wheels shooting sparks in a kaleidoscope of terror. He hit the jump and floored it towards us where he screeched to a halt and panted its fearsome rumbling breath below us like the rancor after devouring some impudent Jedi.
The boys were shocked. Their eyes were big and chunks of nature valley were falling from their gaping mouths. It was one of those moments that could break either way.
“WOAH!!!” I yelled to their protected ears. “DID YOU SEE THAT MONSTER TRUCK!!!!!”
They looked to me and focused, processing how they felt about what they just saw, heard and felt in the pits of their stomaches. Smiles broke, they started to move again. “That was cool,” my son mouthed through the roar. I relaxed, sat back and let the destruction continue.
I highly recommend you take your child to monster jam. The primary consideration is that your child’s head be big enough that they can effectively wear some kind of ear protection. Monster trucks are loud. Like REALLY FREAKING LOUD. The other loud events at Monster Jam include quad cycle racing (3 or 4 races), announcers and interviews with the drivers (volume is JACKED so you can hear it with ear protection), and Intermission music (lots of Nickelback).
My wife bought us some in-ear foam plugs that are attached to a plastic hoop which holds them in. The Alaskan Hard Gear Pipeline vest holds these perfectly in one of the pockets. A better option is full on over-ear hearing protection, as I was constantly worried that my son wasn’t fully protected. Plus the plugs are irritating to wear for that long.
Monster Jam Family
One thing you should know about Monster Jam is that it really is a family event. I’d say at least half in attendance were under 16. There were lots of children and families with multiple kids, even some very young kids in strollers. Some of those kids already had mohawks and their first tribal tatts.
The announcers and drivers when they speak, speak to the families and it is generally a very friendly environment. For example, the guys in the row in front of us were your typical Monster Truck fans. Real salt of the earth types. They had kids with them (not wearing ear protection) and when my son and his friend squirmed in their seats and kicked them in the back (every 5 minutes) they said nothing and didn’t even give annoyed looks or sidelong glances. Their Big-O Tires shirts were covered with my boy’s footprints, but not a word.
How Monster Jam Works
Monster truck shows are a fully choreographed competition of highly skilled drivers and heavily engineered machines. There are several events that stretch the show out for about an hour and a half.
They do several rounds of quad racing. These look like normal quad cycles, but are about 500% louder. It’s not all that exciting, and if your kid says he needs to pee, this is the time to head to the bathroom and have him piss on your shoes.
As with any event heavily attended by boyscouts, they played Lee Greenwood and had a flag ceremony with overtures to veterans and active duty military. I’m all for it. Love that song.
The first competition the trucks do is Wheelies. The arena has a jump in each corner so everyone gets a good view. The wheelie jump is low and the trucks start at the other end of the arena ROAR the engine and fly down towards the jump, scream around the end of the arena, hit the brakes and creep up to it. At the last second they hit the gas and the front of the truck flies up and they sail off the lip fully vertical. The goal is to get the truck as straight up and down as they can for as long as they can. They do 2 runs per lap. The top 4 move on to a final round and the winner of that gets a plaque/trohpy.
Like I said, this is a family event. Every time a driver wins and gets a trophy, he runs up into the stands and gives it to a kid. Class Act.
Monster Truck Racing
The Monster Truck Race is an event where two drivers square off at opposite corners of the arena and race around for two laps. Each lap has two turns and two jumps. The faster one wins. No style points. Top 4 go on to final round and the winner gets a trophy. This is a pretty cool event for sure.
I’m not sure if Mini Elvis and Small Block were the same diminutive entertainer, but they were funny. My son of course thought they were little kids. Small Block did tricks on a mini bike including jumping three tonka dump trucks and spinning brodies in the dirt and making silly jokes.
Mini elvis sang some version of heartbreak hotel with monster truck show lyrics. In a town like Reno, you see this kind of thing all the time.
Monster Truck Freestyle
The freestyle event is the final event. It’s big, it’s loud and it’s awesome. This is where the drivers get 60 seconds to do whatever they want to impress the crowd and judges. In addition to the low wheelie jumps at either corner, there’s also a big kicker on one end and a medium kicker on the other end. The big one is big. Really big. The trucks, with only 20 feet or so of run up, can launch 40 feet into the air. It’s amazing. They jump and turn and jump and turn for 60 seconds then when their time is up they spin donuts and spray dirt into the air like a 1500 horsepower egg beater.
Despite all this, the boys had more fun with and lasting interest in the free Big-O Tires hand towel we got on the way to our seats. The main purpose of this trinket is to give kids a way to transfer detritus between the floor of the arena and their faces. It’s secondary purpose is as to waive it in the air to show your appreciation of the Monster Truck Driver’s performance.
At one point during Freestyle, Grave Digger was 40 feet in the air and both boys were facing the opposite direction, completely absorbed in the fluffy serenity of their towels falling off the backs of their seats. Just goes to show, that being a man is something we as dads must grind into our boys like dirt beneath a flotation tire.
Apres Monster Truck Show
Back at home, spring had sprung in Reno. We opened the garage door and let the kids ride bikes, throw rocks and explore the pasture. It was perfect vest weather. Plus, when you live on a ranch, having something like Alaskan Hard Gear to wear so you look the part even though you drive a Subaru really adds authenticity to your whole ensemble.
We had pizza and the boys told their moms about the monster truck show, being sure to mention the fact that they didn’t get cotton candy in a monster truck hat. Then, of course, they both wanted to watch monster truck videos on the computer. So check out The Gizzard Stone Monster Truck Playlist on YouTube.