SHERIDAN — Sheridan County Fairgrounds will play host to a monster truck show Saturday at 7 p.m. featuring three different monster truck competitions.
The first is a wheely competition, followed by a Chicago-style racing, which features two drivers starting on the opposite side of the arena from each other, driving around the track. The first one to cross the center of the track three times wins. The final will be freestyle, where drivers will do doughnuts to try to gain air.
Being a monster truck driver requires a few skills, including pure stupidity, said driver Mikeal Christensen. Drivers will also need basic mechanic and fabricating skills since drivers usually work on their own trucks, a job that can seem neverending.
“Every day you can probably find something wrong with the truck,” Christensen said. “On average we are probably working 12 to 16 hour days just to maintain them and get them ready for the next weekend.”
Having an extra pair of hands to help with the work cuts down on time. Most of the repairs are simple; it’s the weight of the parts that makes work difficult.
“A lot of stuff on monster trucks are pretty common sense repairs,” Christensen said. “I worked at a mechanic shop at a dealership for four years and half the stuff on cars are more complicated than the trucks.”
Christensen said monster trucks are built and designed with simplicity in mind to help prevent repairs from turning into huge problems.
Being on the road 40-45 weekends a year, a lot of maintenance takes place on the road. Tools and parts travel with the drivers in their trailers. Monster trucks are transported in an enclosed 53’ Kentucky trailer, Christensen said.
“It is basically a mobile parts center for our trucks,” Christensen said.
To load the trucks into trailers, Christensen and the rest of the crew will exchange the big tires used in competitions for a smaller set of tires. These tires are similar to sprinkler tractor tires on farms and ranches.
The big tires will be loaded first, followed by the trucks on the narrow tires, said another monster truck enthusiast, Linda Beckly. When everything is completed, there is barely an inch to spare.
Traveling is something Christensen enjoys about being a driver. Christensen said he has performed in all 50 states in the U.S. and in nine different countries. For ocean travel, the trucks and parts are placed in shipping containers and shipped on ocean liners.
When Christensen arrives for a show, he enjoys performing in front of thousands of fans.
“That’s the cool thing is you inspire and you make so many people thrilled and entertained so easy by doing something that is honestly a lot of work,” Christensen said. “Just the satisfaction of the crowd getting excited or enjoying a night without any drama or life problems.”
Monster truck driving is a family affair. Christensen’s dad has been driving for 27 years, starting when Christensen was 5 years old. All of Christensen’s siblings have driven or are still driving today.
The trucks are built from scratch by a driver. Sometimes old trucks are passed on and customized by the new driver. Christensen said this builds a personal connection between a driver and their truck.
The truck Christensen will be driving in Sheridan is named Vendetta. It used to be his brother Paul’s truck, known then as Kamikaze. Christensen said he likes using his brother’s old parts to beat him in competitions.
Christensen said he enjoys the racing events because it is more about the skill of the driver. Christensen’s truck is a little older than Paul’s truck, giving him a disadvantage in the freestyle competition.
Trucks that will be featured at the show is Kamikaze, Vendetta, Red Solo Truck and Equalizer.