If you claim to be a fan of motorsport and you don't immediately break out with a wave of goosebumps at the mention of Grave Digger or Bigfoot while imagining over-the-top, big-wheeled trucks crushing cars and launching across a stadium, then I'm afraid your Man Card is now invalid.
Why am I telling you this? Because Monster Jam is coming to SA! Yeah, that's right, the biggest, loudest and most action-packed arena motorsport event will be in SA for three insane shows. The events kick off in Durban on the 20 April at Moses Mabida Stadium, followed by Cape Town on the 27 April at the Cape Town Stadium and then lastly, the madness descends on Jo'burg on 4 may at FNB Stadium. As a kid I used to imagine being at a monster truck event, it's actually one of my motorsport bucket list items, so when I heard about Monster Jam heading to our shores I was sure it was just a rumour, but thanks to US-based Feld Entertainment (the guys who have brought Disney on Ice to SA for the last 5 years) and local promoter Showtime Management (in association with SuperSport and a host of local radio stations) it will be here in a little over 6 month's time.
What is Monster Jam?
THIS IS MONSTER JAM!
While Monster Jam events are packed with insane action and are supported by some of the most popular lifestyle brands in the world, a major selling point is that it's still very family orientated and will make for an amazing day out. We've seen similar high profile events here in the past few years like Gymkhana GRiD, Nitro Circus and Top Gear Live, and they drew serious crowds. I think Monster Jam will be just as good too because it's actually very well priced, so there's no need to start a diet of 2-minute noodles and Salticrax, or to ship the kids off to grandma's house for the day to save up some going out money. To make things even more exciting, attendees have the opportunity to meet the drivers and see the monster trucks up close at the Pit Party - not to be confused with a Pity Party, which is what everyone who misses out on a ticket will be having. In every city, prior to the Monster Jam performances, a pre-event Pit Party is held at the stadiums and arenas, which is something that separates this event from the others. No other live entertainment franchise provides such intimate access. The only catch here is that a combined event and Pit Party ticket must be purchased to gain access, but it's a mere R150 extra, basically the equivalent of a litre of petrol these days.
These Monster Trucks have an apt name because they're around four metres tall and four metres wide and can weigh up to 4,500kg. With the way they seem to defy gravity, you just know there's herds of angry horses somewhere in the setup. Most churn out in excess of 1500hp thanks to seriously worked supercharged V8 lumps, which is pretty much a must-have when the tyres are 1.7m tall. In the confines of a stadium these Monster Jam trucks can reach up to 110km/h, enough to launch them as high as 9 metres and as far as 36 meters, or 14 side-by-side cars! Some of the trucks have been around for many years and so some of the names should do a bit of a Quasimodo; like El Toro Loco, D-Max and of course GRAVE DIGGER!
While there are always new trucks entering the fracas, one of the most famous is Dennis Anderson's Grave Digger, probably because the first incarnation of it appeared way back in 1982. It was first created as a mud bogger, but by 1986 had transformed into the iconic monster truck that's been crushing cars and wrecking competitors since. At the time Bigfoot was the most well-known of these monsters, but Grave Digger soon amassed it's own cult following, and things just got better after defeating Bigfoot in a widely televised event in 1987. I had a little Hot Wheels Grave Digger toy from when it used to run in the full black livery, it was well-used to the point that most of the paint had chipped off and the left rear wheel went missing after squishing my sister's Barbie dolls in an EPIC front garden flower bed monster truck event, hosted by my G.I Joes. Over the years Grave Digger evolved of course, seeing a new one introduced in 1989 as Grave Digger 2, and then 1991 saw Grave Digger 3 appear. More followed, up to 12 versions hired out to be driven by other drivers. Anderson retired in 2017, but the Digger lives on AND IT'S ON THE LIST OF TRUCKS COMING TO SA!
Check out this clip from when I was 12 years old in 1991, back then things were way more dangerous because the trucks still used metal bodies and had no tearaway parts like they do now. When I was a kid seeing these trucks in action on TV was super rare, I was limited to watching major wipeouts on the Havoc series of VHS tapes, or in gap fillers between sports shows on TV4. Ahhh, bless the interwebz!
There's plenty more information to share in the coming months, but for now you have the dates, and so I'll leave you with the pricing. There are a few affordable options; R150, R250, R350, R450 and R600. The Pit Party is an extra R150 on top of that, unless you opt for the top-of-the-range Premium Lounge ticket at R800 which includes Pit Party access. Families can buy ticket packages for four, five and six persons on selected price categories offering savings of R30 per
event-only ticket and R40 per Event & Pit Party Combination ticket. You can even save some money if you get all your mates to tag along with you; there's a 10% discount offered on groups of 20 and more (valid only for selected ticket prices based on full-priced tickets and Event + Pit Party tickets). Tickets will be available through Computicket and special packages through Showtime. The Pit Party kicks the event off at 13:00 and closes at 15:00 and the main show starts at 18:00 and runs for around 2.5 hours.
Keep an eye on the various social media pages for cool competitions and giveaways, you can start by following the hashtag #MonsterJamSA. You'll also want to do a bit of research on the various Monster Jam trucks so you can cheer on your favourite at the event, but if you have any sense, you'll be Team Grave Digger like me!