Driver has monster love for Monster Jam

01/10/2014 7:17 AM

01/10/2014 7:18 AM

Preparing for a night of Monster Jamming is a dirty job – literally.

To create the proper surface on which 10,000-pound trucks can leap, flip and fly, technicians must haul in truckloads of sifted dirt, which is stored throughout the year near a Kellogg underpass, and spread it all over Intrust Bank Arena’s otherwise pristine floor.

But these technicians are good, said driver and Monster Jam star John Seasock, who was calling earlier this week from his home in Pennsylvania.

When Monster Jam moves out of a venue, every speck of dirt goes with it.

“The day after the event, you can’t tell anyone was in there,” he said. “It comes out better than it was before we got there.”

Monster Jam, a monster-truck event that rolls into Intrust Bank Arena every January, will return for shows on Friday and Saturday evenings.

The event features six giant trucks operated by six experienced stunt drivers who will race each other, perform freestyle stunts and jump their trucks higher than your two-story house is tall.

On the bill in Wichita will be Seasock, one of the country’s most experienced and celebrated monster-truck drivers.

Seasock, who drives the Batman Monster Jam Truck, has a long list of awards on his resume, including back-to-back World Racing Championships. His career started when he was a teenager, he said. His friends all owned fast cars, but he owned a big truck.

He attended an event similar to Monster Jam, stayed to get drivers’ autographs and was hooked. He started working on building his own giant truck in his dad’s driveway. Eight months later, he was done.

These days, his role is that of driver and Monster Jam celebrity who visits children in hospitals and makes appearances on behalf of his organization.

His Batman truck is a customized giant with triple jet engines poking out the back. The average Monster Jam truck is 12 feet tall by 12 feet wide and sits on 66-inch-tall tires. The trucks generate 1,500 to 2,000 horsepower, can move up to 100 mph and fly 35 feet in the air.

The trucks are all built using complex computer programs, Seasock said, and technology makes the trucks safer than they’ve ever been. Not only are drivers protected by custom-made seats, but the trucks also are fitted with “remote ignition interrupters,” which would allow show controllers to shut off the trucks if something were to happen to the drivers.

“It’s extremely safe,” he said. “But gravity is pretty tough. What goes up must come down.”

People who come to this weekend’s shows will be wowed by the tricks the drivers can perform, particularly considering the size of the trucks, Seasock said. One of the most impressive involves the drivers propping the trucks up on their tails.

The show, he said, is perfect for families – especially families that include vehicle-obsessed kids.

“They’re going to get a good two and a half hours of family entertainment,” Seasock said. “This is one of the few events where you know your kids are not going to see something you don’t want them to see.”

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