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MONSTER JAM – Path of Destruction – Baltimore

Grave Digger Destroying the RV

Monster Jam monster truck extravaganza was back in town this weekend and we were there with bells (ear protection) on. They didn’t disappoint. There were plenty of smack-downs, loads of destruction, and a truckfull of face-melting spectacle. Click below for more bone-wrenching photos.

Grinder hoisted

For the most part you can grab a pass to the pre-game Pit Party for free. Either by stopping by a participating Advance Auto Parts or checking the website for details. The pit party activities vary by location, at our last Monster Jam (DC, indoors) the Pit Party was on the dirt, and you got to walk around and meet the drivers and pose with the trucks. This one (Baltimore, outdoors) was in the parking lot adjacent to the stadium and featured all the trucks (including Grinder hoisted way up high!), meet and greets with the drivers, plus additional attractions. We watched motorcycle stunt drivers defy gravity in that ball of death, there was an opportunity to sit behind the wheel of one of the Grave Diggers, as well as pose with the original mud-racer Grave Digger (pic below). My son and I like going around and posing with our favorite trucks. Sometimes you can walk right up and stand next to the truck and get a pic, other times, the line to get an autograph from the driver prohibits it. One of the craziest things we saw was this stunt guy jump from a cherry-picker, after he lit himself on fire.

Fire fall time lapse

I really wanted to get a pic of the dashboard in Grave Digger, or at least a pic of my four year old son behind the wheel of Grave Digger, but the line was terribly long. I liked that they had plenty of space so it wasn’t that crowded, and there’s plenty to do prior to the main event. Also, the Pit Party ended at 5:00pm, and the show was set to begin at 7:00, but there was plenty going on in between, we weren’t sitting around twiddling our thumbs. They had quad races and mud racing, and they even did the National Anthem at 6:45. All in all, it kept moving, and even with a four and a two year old, we weren’t ever bored.

Grave Digger jumping through the air

Grave Digger is the obvious star of the event. Now in truth, there are something like 18 Grave Diggers currently in rotation, so that every Monster Jam event including ones on the same day in different cities, can have a Grave Digger on hand. So for something special, you want Grave Digger’s originator Dennis Anderson to be the driver at your event. The crowd greeted Dennis like royalty. Dennis birthed the idea of Grave Digger and has been driving him for 30 years. This was the 30th Anniversary of the original Grave Digger (that red mud bogger below) so this year he’s featuring an all new paint job. I like the silver flames on the front, and the newly styled Reaper with glowing red eyes is a big improvement over the melting face ghost that lords over the graveyard in the original design. I also like the improved font. It’s still that schloppy, drippy font, but has a more contemporary race-y feel to it.

Iron Man can fly

Of course there is a spot in our hearts for Grave Digger, but our absolute favorite truck has become Iron Man. Originally created as a promotional truck for the movie four years(!) ago, he turned into a fan favorite and is doing pretty well in the race circuit. Or so I assume, I really don’t know his stats. I love the styling of the chassis, and nothing is cooler than the red glowing circuits on the underbelly. (Actually, El Toro Loco blowing steam out his nose is pretty cool too). Listen up would-be monster truck designers: to have a successful truck, you need some feature you can turn on and off. Kind of like a catch-phrase to work the audience up. Dennis Anderson started it with the red headlights he’d turn on right before a race. Iron Man has his red belly lights, Bethesda-native Illuminator’s edge lights light up, and now Grinder has a rocking G on both sides. Actually, you can get away without a gimmick that turns on and off, IF you have something as ingenious as Monster Mutt.

Monster Mutt takes a turn

Monster Mutt is our other favorite. He’s got big floppy ears, tail and tongue all start wagging once the truck gets driving and jumping. We love watching that tail wag when he lands a big jump. It all adds to the personality. It’s funny, one of the mom-bloggers was telling me she got a little choked up when Monster Mutt flipped in one of the first races and had to be towed off. Would he be alright? Would he return for the freestyle portion? I had to admit I felt the same way. And you know what? Monster Mutt DID return, and he did great.

Monster Mutt tears through an RV

They break the event into two big parts. First is the bracket racing with three rounds to pick a winner, and then after a brief intermission it’s freestyle, where the drivers are judged on their tricks and successful landings. This is when all the mayhem and destruction occurs. They’re free to smash and destroy, and attempt flips and big jumps during freestyle. This time they wheeled out two RVs which are absolutely spectacular when they are blown to smithereens. Typically the truck jumps and lands on the sedan style cars, mushing it. But the RVs are taller and less structurally sound, so the monster trucks just plow right through them like a four year old to a dandylion.

Metal Mulisha makes donuts

I’ve been taking my son to Monster truck shows since he was two (with appropriate ear protection. I totally recommend getting these Junior Earmuffs from Amazon ahead of time) and he always seems to love it. I would say “WHOAAA! Check it out!” and he would join me in amazement. However now, he’s closer to five, and he was pointing things out to me. He totally gets it now, he would say “Daddy look! He’s doing donuts!” or “That is SO COOL!” It was great. Then I spotted something in the audience. There was a guy with his 14(?) year old son. The son had the DSLR camera and was excited about taking pics. Both father and son looked like they were genuinely enjoying being at the show and with each other. I can only be so lucky to be doing something with my son when he’s a teenager that we both enjoy equally. I’m sure there will be things I’ll do with him that I find dumb, and I may be lucky enough to drag him to something that I enjoy, but I witnessed something unique.

iEl Toro Loco es muy pelligroso!

I have about 50 pics below you gotta check out. If you particularly like any of them, click to visit the Flickr gallery, most of the images were saved at a large enough resolution you can use them as your desktop wallpaper (I’m authorizing personal use only, if you want to use these pics anywhere else, please contact me). Click on the magnifying glass above the image. And don’t forget to swing by MonsterJam.com to see when they’re coming to your town next, and pick up some sweet merchandise. We should have reviews of the Hot Wheels Monster Jam sets pretty soon. Here is a custom Display Base you can print and use to display your trucks! Keep an eye out. You can also follow us on Twitter or Facebook to stay up to date.

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