What seems to be missing the most in the now 10-month pandemic has been opportunities for enjoyment. Musicians have to do shows from at home instead of in front of screaming fans, while comedians are stuck looking at a laptop camera instead of the laughter of a crowd. Even award shows had to be done virtual, but hearing Luke Bryan sing “One Margarita” to just cameras is not the same.
No industry has suffered more than that of monster trucks, since of any industry in the U.S. and abroad, they are driven the most by fans. A stadium or arena filled with thousands of people, watching as a single individual has 1500 horsepower at their disposal, doing things such as balancing on the front tires, slinging dirt in a cyclone, or launching as high as the upper row of seating; exhilarating.
But then, when one show stopped, the industry stopped.
Motors went silent, and there was no having to mount up four 66-inch tall tires, and teams were left to wonder what was left to do, or if they would even have a job to come back to.
Drivers that had well-paying and consistent work suddenly found themselves packing luggage, and in some cases a toolbox, and having to walk away and look for something else to do. Some found some side jobs for other teams on some weekends, and even got a chance to drive again. Others had something to fall back on, while some even had their regular opportunities shuttered due to restrictions.
Now in a new year, during a time when under normal circumstances trucks get loaded up for a week, after week, push for the first three or four months, the season seems to have been stopped and shows pop up sparingly in a couple spots for a couple tours. Fans can attend, but are so spread out it just feels different, and maybe a little concerning to a certain point.
Although it is hard to anticipate what may happen this early in the season, the outlook is not necessarily bleak or grim.
As the year goes forward, the general public will be aware that the Covid-19 vaccine will be available, and will likely see a lot of doses given. This isn’t because of it being forced on people from employers or it being vastly available, but instead because people want to be out and enjoy things they once did, as a family…an extended family with a common like among them. Parents will want to get their kids vaccinated for school, and in turn they will want to do so when out in a venue seating thousands of people, ensuring they and their kids are potentially covered.
So, does this mean there’s not going to be a lot of shows for the winter season?
Unfortunately, that is a reality. But, at the same time, the tours that are holding shows are some of the top tours. Monster Jam is holding it’s first event of the winter season this weekend, an arena tour in Utah. Another tour, Hot Wheels Monster Trucks Live is waiting until later in the winter to hit arenas, with their latest show coming in March.
Other tours are trying to hold some showcases at usual venues. The new Monsters of Destruction tour that started to come on last year, with a familiar crew, are heading to Kentucky to a very familiar venue. In order to help welcome back the fans to the arena, the crew is loading the floor with dirt for the first time.
The most difficult part of this industry is that because they are at the mercy of the fans, they are also at the mercy of local regulations. No show is going to be the same.
Some already have an idea to ensure there’s distance between fans, but others are leaving it up to the actual arena and the state. What this means is some shows may have to be forced to have less fans than another, even if it’s the same promoter.
There’s going to be a lot of differences in this business for 2021, but this an opportunity that needs to be seized every chance it can. The monster fans don’t want to watch past videos of events, nor do they want to just play with a few Hot Wheels or Spin Master pieces to make their own show in their living rooms. What they want is hearing a 1500-horsepower, methanol fueled engine scream out a set of headers. They want to see enough air underneath a set of 66-inch tires to where the driver is staring at the upper deck of the grandstands.
Unfortunately, that may be down the road and will be on a more limited basis.
Once it gets to be spring, and perhaps summer, those experiences will be much more available at speedways, fairgrounds, and stadiums. Already there’s a lot of expected shows at venues that can hold a larger crowd, safely, and securely.
From a personal standpoint, I have at this time three photography events lined up between April and July, with potentially a grand-opening of a very important facility to the industry once dates are revealed.
But, the biggest thing to remember about this business, it is the fans that make a difference. One fan in the stands is just one reason to ensure someone is happy. For 46 years, this industry has captivated people of all ages. From the moment the first car was crushed in front of a crowd, to seeing a couple trucks race to the finish line. From the world records, to the skills challenge, fans have been captivated.
Now, this industry is ready to make a rebound like never before. Buy those tickets, sit in those seats, and watch these men and women show what they can do with an 12,000-pound beast.