For two nights this weekend, the Landers Center will replace its arena ice surface with huge amounts of dirt set to challenge drivers of trucks that are truly “monster” in stature. The Toughest Monster Truck Tour makes a stop at the Landers Center this Friday and Saturday nights, each night starting at 7:30 p.m.
Everything about monster trucks is huge and oversized in nature, including the size of the wheels, the size of the jumps they will make, along with the noise level in the arena when these vehicles compete for prize money in one of several stops the tour makes during the course of its season.
“Last year, I think we had 32 stops for the year,” said Jerry Beck, a 37-year-old competitor from Lafayette, Ind. who will drive the monster Dirt Crew dump truck this weekend in Southaven. “It’s a long journey for the year, but we enjoy it, though.” Beck, while driving the monster Dirt Crew dump truck, got into the sport a few years ago putting together another vehicle expected to be part of the weekend stop in Southaven, the Quad Chaos, described as the world’s largest ATV. “Four years ago, we came up the idea to build the giant Quad Chaos,” Beck said. “We kind of got together as a family and we decided that if we hadn’t built that, we’d always wonder, ‘what if?’ so we decided to go ahead and do it. It was a real hit with the kids and had a lot of fun with it.”
Beck said the Dirt Crew dump truck was built for himself, since he is part of a family excavating company in Indiana which he said he’s involved in when not on the road competing the Toughest Monster Truck series. He added that, while this is his third year involved in the tour, it is his second year driving in it.
Beck noted he’s looking for better results driving in Southaven this year than what happened last time around.
“Last year, I tore the front end of my truck on Friday night and got it back together again for Saturday night,” Beck said. “There’s a lot of fun in there. There’s room to do whatever we want to do.”
Tour officials note the Landers Center actually has more space to work with than FedExForum in Memphis, making it a better facility to operate in. “We have a number of different competitions we have to do,” Beck said. “Usually, we start off with wheelies and see who can do the best wheelie. Then we go into racing and we’ll finish the night out with freestyle, where we get to do whatever we want for 90 seconds.”
Fans of Monster Trucks will know the names of some of the vehicles expected to appear at the Landers Center, from Bigfoot to Beck’s Quad Chaos and Dirt Crew dump truck. In addition, vehicles by the names of Heavy Hitter, Dawg Pound and, after several years off the circuit, Snake Bite are set to appear.
“The whole experience is just bigger than life,” Beck said. “The trucks are huge, the trucks are loud, and it’s just really hard to describe it. You really have to see it to believe it. It’s all about the ‘wow’ factor. They all come to see the crash, you know.” The construction of the track is done Thursday before the event, when tons of dirt are brought and shaped on the Landers Center floor.
For more information about the Toughest Monster Truck tour, visit www.toughestmonstertrucks.com.
Bob Bakken is Sports Editor and may be reached at 662-429-6397 ext. 240.