Weekender

‘Big toys’ to take over the Bryce Jordan Center

The Original Monster Truck, Bigfoot, smashes over cars in the wheelie competition during the 2011 Monster Truck Nationals at the Bryce Jordan Center.
The Original Monster Truck, Bigfoot, smashes over cars in the wheelie competition during the 2011 Monster Truck Nationals at the Bryce Jordan Center. Centre Daily Times, file

The Bryce Jordan Center will once again host Monster Truck Nationals on April 30.

Mark Hall, driver of monster truck, the Raminator, thinks that while the competition will be stiff at the event, everyone will have plenty of fun. It starts with contests including a wheelie contest, he said, and drivers will need to race to qualify to make a bracket. There’s also a freestyle portion of the event.

“That’s when everyone gets to kind of let their hair down and show off a little bit and have some fun,” Hall said. “Of course, you always want to one-up your buddy, you know? And, in between there, they have other things going on. They have a dinosaur that eats up cars. It’s pretty cool. It’s a fun time.”

The Raminator is the world’s fastest monster truck, according to Hall.

“It weighs almost 11,000 pounds,” he said. “It stands about 10  1/2 feet by 12 1/2 feet wide. It’s got a big Hemi engine in there. It’s almost 2,000 horsepower. We’ve got a big Ram with a lot of power there.”

Hall is the 2015 national champion. His passion for grease and gears dates back to his early childhood days.

“My dad was a motorcycle announcer, and I guess I kind of grew up at the motorcycle races,” he said. “Then, when I got older, the first vehicle I had was a Jeep and we kept putting bigger and bigger tires on it until we couldn’t drive it on the street anymore. So, we thought, well heck, let’s give this monster truck thing a try!”

Passion for monster trucks has led Hall to fulfill his boyhood dreams, but he can’t quite decide on his favorite aspect of his career.

“I like all of it,” Hall said. “I like working on the trucks, I like building the trucks. I really dig that part of it. I like going to the shows and meeting folks. I kind of like talking to people and seeing where they’re from. I kind of dig the kids coming out to the show because let’s face it — to the kids, these things are nothing more than big toys.

“I like meeting the gearheads like me that want to see how they work and the parts we use and all that. Plus, good grief, I’ve got the best job in the world! I enjoy driving and racing. I’m a super competitive guy.”

Driving an 11,000-pound destruction machine for a living sounds like a job for a fairly rough and tumble guy, but Hall says he’s not like that in day-to-day life.

“I think when I’m driving the truck I’m pretty hardcore, but I’m not that way once I get out of the truck,” he said. “I’d say for the most part, I’m pretty laid back. I’d like to think I’m a pretty hard worker. But, yeah, I’m probably not anything you’d imagine a monster truck guy to be like. I’m probably not really very cool. I’m a totally different guy, we’ll just go with that.”

Fans of monster trucks will remember popular crowd favorite and stiff competitor, Bigfoot.

“Bigfoot is still around, and will in fact be at the show this weekend,” Hall said. “They’re good guys, very competitive guys. We like running with them. Like I said, you always want to one-up your buddies.”

Hall believes everyone who comes out to the show will get their money’s worth.

“It’s just a good time for everybody, if you’re a little kid all the way up to a grandma or grandpa,” he said. “Even if you’re not a motorsport fan, you can’t help but be interested in these things just by the sheer size of them, and the tires they have and the noise they make. You’ve got to be kind of jazzed by just looking at it. I just think they appeal to everybody. You just can’t help but be interested in them.”

IF YOU GO

  • What: Monster Truck Nationals
  • When: 6:30 p.m. April 30
  • Where: Bryce Jordan Center, University Park
  • Info: www.bjc.psu.edu
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