For the uninitiated the name Grave Digger may not toot any horns, but for those who follow fat tires and roaring engines ‘Grave Digger’ isÂ synonymousÂ with Monster Truck shows. This year’s installment, Monster Jam, kicks off its 30th Anniversary tour with the first event this weekend in Tacoma, Washington (January 13-15). The show will feature all the fun stuff that they are known for, like crashing and smashing up smaller, less worthy vehicles, while doing astounding jumps and tricks with the machines. Some even have shooting flames that roar out of the exhausts. It’s basically good ol’ family entertainment, and at a price of 20 bucks for adults and $5 for kids it’s quite affordable considering the increase in other family inclusive events and activities.
CultureMob had the opportunity to speak with Grave Digger driver, Charlie Paukin
Allie Hanley: What’s it like driving for the Grave Digger team during a day?
Charlie Paukin: Our day typically starts at arriving at the venue at 4:00am and meeting with local media for a few hours. Usually the crew has already got the arena and the truck set up the night before. We typically go over the machine looking for last minute issues. Like last weekend I had a roll over and acute mishaps. So we just double check everything. Then we go over the show format, and that usually leads to the show.
AH: Why do you think people enjoy watching this sport so much – because it is a sport?
CP: Well we call it a mix of sport and entertainment. Its the whole thing of being a kid again. Sitting in a sandbox and building something, and then being able to destroy it! Then you see these great big things flying through the air, and smashing into stuff. It’s bigger than life! They look like they are invincible and can go through anything.
AH: What kind of team does it take to build and maintain a monster truck?
CP: It takes a great team to keep everything running smoothly. It’s very hard because there’s a lot of mechanical things that go into maintaining a Monster Truck. There’s a lot of communication that has to go on between the crew, the driver, and what’s going on with the truck. I’ll be sitting in the truck and I will have to signal to them that something is going on, and they will have to come over, and then they will check it out while I’m sitting in the truck waiting for the next round. They have to try and figure out how to adjust the truck for my needs.
AH: Can you drive those legally down the road?
CP: Unfortunately you can’t drive them down the road. They’re actually too wide but it would be a blast to drive one of them in to work! Just imagine if there was a traffic jam, I could pull off the road and pretty much go wherever I wanted to.
AH: I saw the new Iron Man Monster Truck down at Comic Con in San Diego last year, and that’s one of your newer trucks on the circuit. How long has Grave Digger been around?
CP: We actually have 8 Grave Diggers out every weekend, that’s how big the event has gotten. I’ve personally been driving monster trucks for 24 years and Grave Digger for 14. I started the truck Excaliber.
AH: What’s the coolest part about being a Monster Truck driver?
CP: Probably going out and putting a smile on people’s faces; And then people going through the line and getting your autograph and telling me how much fun they had. You can’t put a price tag on that. Just going out and traveling from place to place really is a dream.
Upcoming cities this month include
- Jan 13-14 – Wichita, KS
- Jan 13-14 – Greensboro, NC
- Jan 13-15 – Tacoma, WA
- Jan 14-15 – Lexington, KY
- Jan 14 – Houston, TX
- Jan 14-15 – London, ON
- Jan 14-15 – San Antonio, TX
- Jan 14 – Atlanta, GA
For more cities click here.