PALMETTO, Fla. — If your idea of car maintenance is paying $35 for someone else to change your oil, you may find it hard to comprehend the amount of work that goes into maintaining 12,000-pound machines. That’s the job of a group of technicians at the Monster Jam body shop in Palmetto.
“Duct tape, zip ties, spray paint. That’s how we get the job done,” said Coty Saucier with a smile.
The Lafayette, Louisiana, native drives the Monster Energy Monster Jam truck and has been competing for seven years. He was in the shop Tuesday morning watching dozens of trucks get repaired from past shows.
“You can’t go to any auto parts store and buy anything off the shelf for a Monster Jam truck,” he explained. “Everything is completely custom built. We do our own fabrication in house. We do our engines, do our shock repair, build our bodies out of fiberglass here. So, everything is completely one-off.”
It’s necessary to have a facility to work on trucks because each machine goes through incredible stress during nationwide shows. It’s been reported each truck can endure $10,000 in damage per outing. Some repairs can be done on the road. Others need a more comprehensive fix.
“All the wiring, the motors, the shocks--everything is custom built on it,” said Angie Richison, Senior Director of Marketing and Sales Feld Entertainment, which owns Monster Jam. “It’s where the trucks really come to life.”
The fleet shop is where the building takes place. The body shop is where the “character” comes in, according to Richison.
All of the trucks are covered in decals except for the legendary Grave Digger. That truck is hand-painted by a man named Jim McShay, who estimates he’s painted about 450 bodies.
The trucks get the royal treatment at the Monster Jam shop.
“It is a full-time job. It’s the ultimate babysitting job keeping track of these trucks,” said Saucier. “There’s not much that these trucks aren’t capable of.”
From the Monster Jam website: “A Monster Jam engine will generate 1,500 horsepower, thanks to a blower that forces air and fuel into the engine. It is powered by methanol fuel, consumed at the rates of three gallons a minute from a specially constructed safety cell. The truck utilizes a four-link racing suspension with four main bars that link the front and rear axles to the frame. It rides on clusters of nitrogen charged shocks that offer 30 inches of travel in the suspension. The BKT tires are 66 inches in diameter and 43 inches wide, inflated to 16-20 psi pressure and (with wheel) weigh 645 pounds each.”
Truck tricks include:
Backflip – When the truck does a complete 360-degree flip from a vertical obstacle.
Big Air – Monster Jam trucks can launch up to 30 feet into the air and travel more than 130 feet. Prepare for lift-off!
Donut – Spinning a Monster Jam truck in circles in one spot.
Cyclone – Similar to a Donut, but done at a higher speed.
Pogo – The Monster Jam truck bounces on the rear tires while standing up into a wheelie.
Power Out – When a driver uses a burst of acceleration to keep the truck from rolling over.
Wheelie – Lifting the front wheels of the truck off the ground and driving only on the rear wheels.
Sky Wheelie – When a Monster Jam truck stands straight up at a 90-degree angle with the front tires in the air.
Slap Wheelie – When the front of the Monster Jam truck comes down and slaps itself back into a wheelie
Stoppie - When the truck noses onto its front wheels, leaving the rear wheels in the air. Many drivers will put the truck in reverse and "moonwalk" it.
Walk-It – A one-wheeled wheelie that rocks back and forth between the two rear tires.
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