By November 5, 2006


We’ve been in the Richmond area for almost two years, and it’s been a tough adjustment. The area is not very diverse, especially in relation to the Washington DC area, or San Francisco, or even Portland. However, Lady Jaye and I have been trying to give it a chance, mostly in the way of going to the kinds of things we would normally not do in a full metropolitan area. Like an F1 Indy race, or a gun show. Last night (for Lady Jaye’s birthday, she wanted to do something off the wall), we went to go see a monster truck rally.

The rally was divided up into three competitions. The first event was who could do the best wheelie. The second was the actual monster truck race, where two trucks flew over three cars. The final “freestyle” competition gave each truck time to do spectacular jumps and smash stuff. The first and last events were scored by judges selected from the audience (at least according to the announcer, more on that later).

It was an awesome spectacle. There was everything I expected at a monster truck race in Richmond, from drivers throwing devil horns:

to a chick launching herself out of a cannon:

to, of course, guys with mullets:

I didn’t recognize most of the names of the trucks. I did remember one truck from my childhood days of watching Bigfoot crush cars and flip over. Gravedigger. Oh yeah, that old bastard panel truck is still working the circuit. Gravedigger is apparently on its 21st iteration. The promotional material said that Gravedigger #21 would be running at the event in Richmond, but I’m not sure. According to Wikipedia, Gravedigger #21 is a show car, complete with a video presentation and passenger seating. Anyway, Gravedigger caught a lot of air, and while it wasn’t the flashiest truck in any single event, it was the most fun to watch overall.
Gravedigger flying over some crushed cars.
Gravedigger versus the Broker. Digger won.
Beware a man with too much time on his hands, four tractor tires, and a 1951 Ford panel truck.
This guy was my favorite. He consistently caught the most air. He was from Virginia Beach, and as such the hometown favorite. He lost in the final race heat and freestyle competition to Gravedigger. Which brings me to my only gripe about the event.

I think there’s a bit of a Harlem Globetrotter thing going on, where Gravedigger will always win the race, and maybe the freestyle competition. I don’t know how frequently the tour’s signature panel truck loses. Wikipedia makes it a point to note that Gravedigger’s team basically invented the freestyle event. At the end of the evening, someone in the audience said, “Gravedigger always wins,” somewhat disheartened. I wonder if the judges aren’t really random at all, or if they are asked to give Gravedigger higher marks. The announcer counselled the judges to save their high marks for later drivers. If they handed out a 10 – 10 – 10 to the first truck, he said, they couldn’t go any higher if a subsequent truck performed better. Gravedigger always went last, and perhaps the psychological impact of “hold your vote for later trucks” made a difference. Who knows.

Anyway, it was more fun than I thought it would be. The crowd was less homogeneous than I expected, which was also nice. It was weird; I expected the F1 racing to be more highbrow, but the fans at the monster truck rally were very tame in comparison. I don’t know if it was the weather or what, but there were no winter equivalents of bra-less women or shirt-less, beer-gutted men walking around last night. There were some tallboy beer cans, but no husband and wife team cranking down a case of Bud and stomping their cans flat ala F1.

It was well worth the ~$12 or so, and certainly worth seeing at least once. I’m not a convert, but it was a great experience.

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  1. ms_lady_jaye says:

    YEEEEEEE HAAAAAAWWWW PAW! It was truly my most unique birthday celebration to date!