Speaking of the driver's seat, it is another interesting design element of the monster truck. The seat is centered in the vehicle so that he or she can best see the track for weight distribution. The seats are custom molded to the driver's body, and there are head/neck restraints to keep heads secure during rough landings. Their seatbelts use a 5 point harness, which is a good thing considering all the rumbles and tumbles during the show. The truck's suspension system, 76 cm shock absorbers filled with oil and nitrogen gas, can only absorb so much car crushing impact.
There are other measures in place to keep the driver as safe as possible, including a 50+ point safety inspection before each show, and on board fire extinguisher system.the trucks all have remote ignition interrupter, which allows track officials to shut a truck off at any time. Each of the drivers also wear fire resistant suits, gloves, shoes and helmets. Derick also wears ear plugs inside of his helmet to protect his ears. (It's a good idea for audience members to wear ear protection as well. This show is LOUD!)
Heavy Hitter in the arena.
In all the destruction, Derick says that the 500th car you crush is just as fun as the first, although the business requires
a lot of hard work. It is a job, but he loves it; seeing kids smile makes all of the work worth it. Some of the work involved includes preparing a track for a Monster Jam. A crew of eight works about sixty hours over three days to construct a monster truck course. It is not uncommon for dump trucks to make more than 200 trips to deliver the 700 -3500 cubic yards of dirt used for each track. Maintenance crews and body fabricators also stay busy, because the bodies and paint jobs are destroyed on a regular basis. The average truck team will go through 8 tires in one year. The monster tires are designed for different track conditions and preferences, measuring 66 inches high and 43 inches wide. Each one takes over 50 hours to carve and costs about $2,600.
Heavy Hitter gets some hang time.
Derick says that he has to be careful and can't destroy his truck every show, because he is an independent driver and responsible for his own repairs. The last time I went to a show, the truck Superman lost a large piece of the fiberglass molded cape, a piece of which is sitting in Derick's garage.
"There's definitely some money to be made," he says. "if you keep a good head about it. You don't want to wreck your truck every week or the costs add up. I put most of the money I make back into my truck."