Fans of monster truck racing often flock to events such as Monster Jam to enjoy cheering for impressive stunts and competitions. Despite the entertainment value, organizers place emphasis on safety, both for drivers and spectators. Though most such spectacles go off without a hitch, sometimes events can go awry. And unfortunately, some mishaps have led to fatalities.
Monster Jam and its most famous trucks
Monster Jam is a monster truck rally series featuring racing and stunts designed to wow spectators of all ages. Events take place nationwide, from San Jose to Baltimore. Each monster truck in the show contributes to the entertainment in its own way
Arguably the most popular truck participating in Monster Jam is Grave Digger. The driver, Tyler Menninga, seems to defy the laws of gravity when he balances the truck on its two front wheels for extended periods.
Another Monster Jam fan favorite is Monster Energy. In a memorable stunt featured on Monster Jam‘s site, driver Todd LeDuc sent his vehicle flying into the air at heights seemingly unattainable for a vehicle of Monster Energy’s weight.
The show also features female drivers such as Becky McDonough, known for achieving an extremely impressive double backflip in El Toro Loco.
Monster trucks have been known to cause fatalities
Amazingly, serious incidents resulting from these types of stunts in monster truck shows are rare. Nevertheless, they have been known to occur and have occasionally resulted in fatalities.
In one tragic 2009 Monster Jam incident, 6-year-old Sebastian Hizey died from head injuries after he was struck by debris that flew from one of the monster trucks. His distraught family described the object that killed the boy as a seven-to-12-pound Frisbee-sized metal ring. An adult spectator also sustained injuries in the incident and was transported to a hospital for treatment.
“Feld Motor Sports, which promoted the event, said in its own statement: ‘This type of incident has never happened before in the history of Monster Jam events,'” The Seattle Times reported.
Just over a week later, another monster truck fatality occurred, but not at Monster Jam. In this incident, a truck show promoter, George Eisenhart Jr., died at one of his own events after being hit by a truck, ABC News reported. The accident occurred at the Motor Sports Monster Truck & Thrill Show in Madison, Wisconsin.
But the deadliest incident in monster truck history occurred in 2013 in Chihuahua, Mexico. According to Monster Trucks Wiki, eight people were killed and 79 injured when a driver lost control of his vehicle and crashed into the crowd. The driver was believed to be under the influence of alcohol, and the event did not include many of the safety precautions that are standard at Monster Jam events.
Safety precautions are critical at monster truck shows
Though the show in Mexico lacked safety precautions, Monster Jam and similar shows in the United States follow strict rules to protect drivers and spectators. For example, according to Monster Truck Guide, trucks come equipped with roll cages to protect drivers and engine kill switches that show organizers can use to shut off the vehicle immediately to protect audiences.
A driver’s uniform is also a critical safety component. Drivers must wear fire-resistant safety suits and helmets to help them survive in the event of an engine fire. In addition, they wear fire-resistant gloves coated in a tacky grip to help with wheel maneuvers.
In addition to the use of engine kill switches to protect crowds, the Monster Truck Racing Association also requires a 30-foot safety zone between the show and spectators. This requirement was implemented to prevent a recurrence of accidents such as the one that killed Sebastian Hizey.
With the implementation of these and other safety precautions, serious incidents at U.S. monster truck shows have thankfully remained rare in recent years. Nevertheless, drivers, organizers, and audiences should be sure to take all necessary precautions to remain safe while participating in and enjoying the spectacle.
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