Trucks & SUVs

Here’s What Goes Into Building a 12,000-lb, 1,400-hp Monster Truck

Monster Jam has gained some serious traction in recent years. It’s fun for –– well, honestly anyone. At Monster Jam people from all walks of life get into the excitement of watching these massive machines speed around in the dirt, hit jumps, and perform tricks. But how do they build those monstrous trucks?

These are some of the most dedicated builds around. Constant innovation, trial and error, and passion for the sport has gone into perfecting these trucks. From hydraulic lines to the BKT’s that are made only for monster trucks, a lot goes into building a giant monster performer.

In this Build Biology video you can watch an interview with Ryan Anderson, son of the original driver of fan favorite monster truck Grave Digger. He goes into detail about the build of his monster truck –– Son-uva Digger.

Ryan Anderson, Son-Uva Digger

In the video, Ryan talks about waking up to the sound of OG Grave Digger as a child. This guy has lived and breathed monster trucks since birth. 1982 was the year that saw the first build of a Grave Digger truck. Ryan Anderson was born in 1989.

While Ryan Anderson could have just ridden the coat tails of his legendary family history, he proved to be as passionate as his dad, famous monster truck driver Dennis Anderson. Dennis paved the way for this crazy sport that has evolved into a global phenomenon. But now his son is out there with his own team, in his own car, crushing it.

As he goes through each component of his competition monster machine, his knowledge and enthusiasm are absolutely authentic. His obvious love for his truck and the sport in general is positively palpable.

We’re impressed by his wealth of knowledge when it comes to the inner workings of his Son-uva Digger monster truck. He knows the thing inside and out.

It’s obvious he’s not on the sideline when it comes to the builds, mods, and improvements made to his truck. And it’s clear that constant innovation goes into making these monster trucks better year after year.

Monster weight, monster power

Without tires, the Son-uva Digger monster truck weighs an incredible 10,000 pounds. Add the 57 inch BKTs to the equation and you have a competitor weighing at least 12,000 pounds, according to Ryan.

As he goes through the general specs, we learn a few things about monster truck science. Although these trucks don’t have a very quick average speed (30-50 mph), they use cutting edge heavy duty technology and honed mechanics to max out their power for tricks and jumps.

The engine can’t be any bigger than 572 cubic inches because that’s against Monster Jam rules. But it doesn’t really need to grow. Up to 1,400 horsepower move through the 2 speed power glide transmission, launching these massive monsters into backflips and enabling front-end balance feats and crazy donut action.

“If you don’t run ratchets, then you don’t drive hard enough”

The monster truck engines last about 20 hours. This may not seem long, but when you consider something generating enough power to launch a 12,000 pound Son-uva Digger 50 feet into the air it starts to make sense.

Ryan says that the transmissions tend to take the most abuse, so the monster truck transmission is probably the most likely component to fail. We know one thing –– on a truck with axles that cost around $45,000 each, nothing on one of these beasts is going to be a cheap fix.

Our favorite takeaway from the video is near the end when Anderson gives a little overview of the seven point ratcheting seat belt system. Apparently, if we were to get into the cockpit of a monster truck it would probably feel pretty tight with all those straps anchoring us in.

But that’s just part of the deal. Ryan calls out anyone not risking enough for such a heavy duty seat belt system saying “if you don’t run ratchets, then you don’t drive hard enough.”

A video of a Monster Jam freestyle, just for fun