Grave Digger driver Dennis Anderson talks about his career in monster trucks and how Orlando is one of his favorite places to perform.
God made monster trucks so us mortals could witness a 10,000-pound machine with a skull on the hood destroy a row of Mercury Sables.
And you can see that wonderful display of divine destruction this SATURDAY!, SATURDAY!, SATURDAY! at the Citrus Bowl when Monster Jam rolls into Orlando.
Grave Digger, Son Uva Gravedigger, Gunslinger, Max-D, Scooby Doo, Monster Mutt and 10 other screaming machines will be crushing cars starting at 7 p.m.
More than 60,000 fans are expected to pack into the stadium for the monster truck event, which will be the last production before the aging facility undergoes a 10-month, $200 million renovation.
Before Saturday's throw-down, I had a chance to chat with four-time Monster Jam champion Dennis Anderson, the driver of Grave Digger. (Edited for clarity and space)
The Grave Digger phenomenon started more than 30 years ago. What was it like back in the early 1980s and how has the sport changed?
Anderson: "It has changed a lot. I created Grave Digger and started playing Monster Jam trucks 32 years ago. We were just big dinosaurs (back then), crawling around, slow, just crushing cars. It's high-flying, high-powered, $250,000 monster trucks now. It's been a big change."
Most people will never get the feeling of sitting behind the wheel of a monster truck and jumping a bunch of cars. You do it almost every night. What's it feel like?
Anderson: "It's just pure adrenaline. You feel 10-foot tall and bullet proof. You can jump these hills, hit the ground and if it breaks a wheel off and crashes, it doesn't make any difference. You're not going to get hurt. Just hang on for the ride. It is a little scary, but the adrenalin surely does take over. It's a big adrenaline rush."
What's the biggest misconception people who don't follow your sport have about Monster Jam?
Anderson: "We used to be labeled as the 'good ol' guys' and that's the only ones that came, the red neck good ol' guys. Now, so many families come out. We love our fans. Once you come and watch us one time, and sit here and watch our whole show, you will be back."
I read that Orlando is one of your favorite places to race. What's so special about Central Florida, the Citrus Bowl and the fans in Orlando?
Anderson: "I love Orlando. I think when I started my fan club years ago, I had more chatter and more fans from the Orlando area than anywhere else in the United States. I'm not joking when I say this. Now we're international, but I'll never forget where I came from. To me in my mind, I think the Orlando fans made me the super star that I am today."
You've been doing this 32 years. How long do you plan to keep going?
Anderson: I was going to retire 10 years ago, and it just never happened. I honestly feel good. I am the oldest guy on the track (He's 53), and I'll take a beating every once and a while. But as long as my health stands up, my plan is in 2017, I'm going to have the biggest, wildest bash of Grave Digger - the 35th anniversary tour - and I'm going to roll through ripping it up with my whole family."
If you go to Monster Jam:
Where: Citrus Bowl, 1610 W. Church Street, Orlando
When: Saturday, 7 p.m. (Monster Jam Pit Party from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m.)
Tickets: Start at $20; Tickets will only be available at the Citrus Bowl Box Office on the day of the show