By Michael Kinney
In 2004, Alex Blackwell was working as a truck driver in Pennsylvania, but his part-time occupation as a pro motocross rider was his passion.
After years of riding motorbikes, Blackwell’s legs began to wear out and he was forced to have surgery. During that time, a friend needed a simple favor from Blackwell.
He wanted him to climb inside a monster truck named Eradicator and drive it 300 feet so his friend could check something out.
As soon as he sat in one and felt its power, he was hooked.
Soon, Blackwell joined the Monster Jam traveling show and hasn’t looked back.
“When I got in the truck, it was unreal,” he said. “As soon as you put your foot to the floor, 1,500 horsepower … I said, ‘This could be fun.’ I’ve been having fun ever since.”
He has traveled to 25 countries with the show and hopes to add even more to that list this year.
Monster Jam roars into Chesapeake Arena, 100 W. Reno Ave., Saturday-Sunday. This will be the second time Blackwell has visited Oklahoma City with the tour.
The first was in 2006, when he commanded Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. This time, he’ll show off his newest ride, 12 foot-tall, 12 foot-wide Megalodon.
“It’s prehistoric, dinosaur-looking. It’s supposedly the oldest, biggest shark known to man,” Blackwell said. “I don’t know how many are actually left in real life in the water, but this one is out of the water, so I am claiming it to be the biggest shark ever.”
Monster Jam trucks can weigh 10,000 pounds and are built for short, high-powered bursts of speed. Rolling on 66-inch tires, the vehicles command close to 2,000 horsepower and can reach 100 mph while also being able to jump 35 feet high and soar over 120 feet.
Other trucks scheduled to compete in the family-friendly Oklahoma City championship are Incinerator, Stinger, Full Boar, Prowler, Master of Disaster, Predator and Carolina Crusher.
“Trucks … do wheelies, doughnuts and freestyle,” he said. “Then there are pit parties. All the fans get to come out and see everything up close; take pictures with them, get autographs with their favorite drivers and then enjoy the show.”
But Blackwell said the accessibility of the drivers is just as big a factor to Monster Jam’s success as anything else.
Drivers sign autographs for two hours at the pre-show Pit Party and meet fans and sign more autographs after the show “until the last person leaves,” Blackwell said.
“There have been times I have been signing to 3 or 4 in the morning because people want your autograph,” he said.
Monster Jam is 1 p.m. and 7 p.m. Saturday and 1 p.m. Sunday at Chesapeake Arena. The pit party is 10:30 a.m. Sunday.
Michael Kinney is a Freelance Writer with Eyeamtruth.com