The Spokane Arena will be transformed from an ice palace into a playground of mud and broken metal this weekend as the U.S.A. Motorsports Spectacular storms its way into the new building.
The big fascination of this three-day event, which starts today and continues through Sunday, is the monster trucks.
The Goliath, gas-guzzling beasts will be on the prowl, hungry for prey of metal, plastic, glass, rubber - or old junker cars. Some will be crushed.
A favorite and easily identifiable supercharged beast is Bigfoot, the original monster truck. The towering Sasquatch truck was conceived in 1973 in Bob Chandler’s garage. Chandler, an off-road enthusiast, modified his ‘74 Ford F250 long-bed to better suit the rugged terrain he wanted to cover.
Bigfoot sightings soon became the main attraction at races, exhibitions and pulling events.
Since the mid-‘70s, there have been 15 incarnations of the monster truck. This weekend, driver Eric Meagher will be behind the wheel of the mostly computer designed Bigfoot 15.
This rig is 10 feet tall, powered by a monstrous 572-cubic-inch engine and cost more than $125,000.
Several of the older models still compete in these events. And Chandler continues to work extensively on the Bigfoot design team.
“I consider Bigfoot to be on the cutting edge of racing technology,” said David Pulford, USA Motorsports events director. “Bob has grown as the computer world has grown. He is extremely adept at putting information into the computer and the computer telling him how to make the fastest truck possible.”
Other popular stars in the trucks cast are Grave Digger, Snake Bite and Smoke Craft. They will drag race across a bed of wrecked cars.
Because these monsters consume about 30 junker cars in a weekend, USA Motorsports buys the old jalopies locally. Clunkers for this weekend’s shows all came from A&A; Auto Salvaging in Spokane.
“What we do is, we go in and find places that have salvage yards. They take the batteries and gas tanks off of them, they bring them to me and we drive over them,” said Pulford.
Although the monster trucks are better suited to a stadium with hundreds of yards more room than an arena, USA Motorsports is still able to pull off a thrilling show.
“It’s much more difficult because of space constraints. When you have a hockey rink … as opposed to a football field, you aren’t able to show the true power these trucks generate and the speeds they can get up to,” said Pulford. “But in the ways we’ve designed our tracks, we feel like we give the crowd a good show.”
Monster trucks aren’t the only ones revving their engines this weekend. At each show, there will be a demolition derby, championship motocross racing, a roll-over contest and transforming, fire-breathing robot vehicles - all professional, of course.
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MEMO: This sidebar appeared with the story: USA Motor Spectacular Monster Truck Challenge Location and time: Spokane Arena, tonight and Saturday, 7:30 p.m.; Sunday, 2 p.m. Tickets: $15, $13 and $10; $8 for juniors