Monster Jam landed with a bang at Baltimore’s Royal Farms Arena this past weekend. We watched Zombie, Grave Digger, Max D, Scooby Doo, Monster Mutts Dalmation and Rottweiler, and NEA battle it out in head to head and freestyle competitions. There were a lot of changes to the Monster Jam format. Check out my write-up and huge gallery of awesome pics, below.
My son and I have been going to Monster Jam for about 5 or 6 years, so we were pretty familiar with the format, but 2016 has brought a lot of changes and they significantly twisted things around. After introducing each of the trucks, they started the program with some head-to-head racing. The trucks started on opposite sides of the Danger Pile, and have to make it all the way around the course. They call this Chicago Style racing. Using a bracket system, they came up with a champion.
Monster Jam used to break up the truck action with quad racers. There were two teams, one representing the local city, and the other representing New York or New Jersey. They’d have a great rivalry that would escalate during each heat. The new Monster Jam still features quad races, but they’ve changed to feature races battling the monster truck drivers against each other. These scores then also contributed to the overall score.
They went back and forth a little, so it wasn’t quite the progression of small-medium-large, but the same drivers hopped into these Speedsters. I liked how they could get a bit more rough and tumble with these enclosed ATVs. They took to jumping and bumping into each other a bit more than the quad racers. My son wanted to know if the speedsters were like escape pods for the monster trucks when they get stuck. Attention Monster Jam, that would be epic if you could have a monster truck get stuck on its back and then a speedster launches from the wreckage.
After the racing winner was determined, there was a freestyle competition, a wheelie competition and then of course freestyle. For having two more shows to go, the drivers were being bold with their attempted flips. Several of the custom chassis were heavily damaged or destroyed, and we loved every minute of it. We saw the ground crew picking up spikes off of Max D, and there’s a photo in my gallery of poor Scooby Doo’s ears and dog tag getting carried out.
The wheelie competition was awesome, and we love the donuts, but we were all waiting for the freestyle portion where they actually get to crushing cars. This is always our favorite part, the destruction. Well, they only had two junker cars to smush. Last year at the DC event they only had one. I wonder if it’s the size of the venue (yes, Baltimore and DC’s arenas are smaller than the stadium shows) or if it’s just cheaper, but I feel this is one of the primary tenants of a monster truck rally. We dig the danger pile, a vaguely volcano shaped mound of dirt comprised of varying inclines. The trucks have a lot of fun (and it’s great to watch) as they come up and over the mounds, but I feel they should have at at least one junker car per monster truck, so that each one has the chance for the fresh kill. Maybe that’s what we get for being in the smaller markets, but in years past there were plenty of junker cars at these same venues. We had a great time, but of all the changes, this is the one we missed the most. I’ll also say, I do miss the grand halftime show. One year was Galactron vs Reptar, the real transformers, and another year was the car crushing Megasaurus.
As you can tell from the pics, we had an epic time. With every Feld event, be it Monster Jam, Ringling Bros, or Disney on Ice, I feel it’s a great experience for the entire family. I definitely recommend hitting the Pit Party (which was very short this year!), but get there in plenty of time, it was very popular so there were several lines. We loved getting to walk around and play in the dirt. I hope Feld sees that this show completely sold out, and will bring back the bigger show to Ravens Stadium in the summertime.
After checking out my huge gallery below, swing by MonsterJam.com to see results and upcoming dates. You can even go to the Super Bowl of Monster Jam, the World Finals in March, in Las Vegas! Also check out our interview with Zombie truck driver Bari Musawwir, and the rest of our Monster Jam coverage.