Fans examine trucks up close during Monster Jam Pit Party at Hagerstown Speedway
Scooby Doo Monster Truck at Hagerstown Speedway's annual Monster Jam. (By Yvette May / Staff Photographer / July 21, 2013)
Friday’s Monster Jam performance was canceled due to inclement weather. Another show is scheduled for Sunday at 2 p.m.
People started gathering Saturday afternoon at the speedway as children and their parents thronged to the Monster Pit Party, where they got to examine the trucks up close.
Debra Wishard of Chambersburg, Pa., who was at the event with her son, Ben Wishard, 14, and her stepgrandson, Diesel Shoop, said she loved “the sound of the monster trucks, the action. The trucks in general.”
“I get really nervous, too, when they go out of control and all that,” she said. “We’ve been to shows in Virginia, Ohio, several in Pennsylvania, Indiana.
“It is something fun, you know, that we can bring the kids to do. It’s not boring to them because they are not around that often that we get to see them.”
Travis Howard, who drives a Grave Digger truck that gives rides for children, said he does what he does “for the kids.”
“We can hold 13 people at a time and the kids love it,” Howard said. “The whole idea is for them to have a pleasurable time and they will never forget it.
“And all you hear all the time is, ‘That was awesome.’ Everybody loves going for a ride in the Grave Digger. It’s tall. It’s big. It flops around a lot ... It’s kind of like an amusement park ride, but it’s really riding in the Grave Digger.”
Howard said he has been part of Monster Jam for about seven years, and he has been driving the Grave Digger ride truck for about a year and a half.
Howard said the hardest part about driving the truck was getting used to its size. Children ask him all the time whether they can drive the truck, he said.
Ashley Johnson, event marketing and sales manager at Feld Entertainment, the company behind Monster Jam, said the pit party affords an opportunity for fans to get close to the trucks and interact with the drivers.
“When you are actually able to touch them and feel them, it is a whole another concept,” Johnson said.
About 10,000 to 12,000 people were expected at the event this weekend, she said.
Jason Jackson, a Hagerstown resident who brought his family to Monster Jam, said both of his children enjoy monster truck shows on TV.
“My little one, from about 4 years old, has said he wants to be a monster truck driver when he gets older,” Jackson said. “We just had him on the Grave Digger ride, which he really enjoyed.”
He was accompanied by his wife, Jamie, and sons, Kameron, 9, and Kruz, 5.
“Watching the monster trucks jump the cars is what they really like,” he said.
“It was so loud and it was going fast,” Kruz said about his ride on the Grave Digger truck.