By Dan MacIntosh
When monster trucks roar out onto the track today at Fairplex in Pomona, for a celebration called Kaboom!, fans will be treated to an event as American as baseball and apple pie. Of course, this oversized automotive equivalent to professional wrestling will also include a fireworks show—the 27th annual such sky spectacular at this venue—and there will also be a buffet menu as well as a healthy contingent of FMX riders. Think loud ‘n proud patriotism.
The whole vehicular plus-sizing we now call monster trucking, is believed to have had its genesis in the late ‘70s—a decade relatively famous for big and silly stuff, such as disco—when outdoors-y pursuits like mud bogging and truck pulling also began to capture the public’s interest. Inventive folks eventually started creating raised big wheels and competed to see who had the biggest truck. Sounds pretty manly, huh? Some of the very first oversized trucks included Bob Chandler’s Bigfoot, Fred Shafer and Jack Willman Sr.’s Bear Foot, Everett Jasmer’s USA-1 and Jeff Dane’s King Kong. (Many of which could have easily doubled for B-movie film titles, by the way). It’s believed Bob George, owner of a motorsport promotion company called—appropriately enough—Truck-a-rama, invented the phrase “monster truck” when discussing Bigfoot. Soon, “monster truck” became the accepted term used whenever one refers to huge tired trucks (those, that is, sporting rubber expanded to 66 inches and bigger).
Contemporary beasts slated to invade the Fairplex this year include Bounty Hunter, which is part of the 2Xtreme Racing monster truck team. Bounty Hunter’s fellow team members include the equally scarily named Scarlet Bandit and Iron Outlaw. Jimmy Creten is Bounty Hunter’s brave driver, and has been monster-riding (if that’s even a worthy verb) since he bought a truck named Shark Attack in 1995 and rebranded it Bounty Hunter. Others expected wheel-expanders at this year’s Kaboom! include Play’n For Keeps, a big, red terror owned by Tony Canedo. It’s no real shock to mention that Shocker will be there, too, and this big bad boy looks nothing like the standard 2006 Chevy Colorado it’s built around. In its unique reconditioned form, this blue colored giant is 10-feet tall, 12-feet wide and 20-feet long. Its 66-inch tires are made by Firestone.
Last, but certainly not least, there is The Destroyer, which is driven by Roger Stidell. Stidell first developed his riding skills on motorbikes, but became interested in monster trucks when in his 20s. Before he got behind the wheel of one of these trucks on steroids, Stidell initially cut his teeth as a volunteer during Pacific Northwest monster truck events at the Kingdome and Tacoma Dome. He helped set up the courses and was also a back up crew member. Preceding his current dream job as The Destroyer’s captain, Stidell was Jeff Bainter’s back up driver for Captain USA from around 2007 until 2011.
Kaboom! also sports some of the finest FMX motorcyclists on its packed bill. Rider Jimmy Fitzpatrick, for instance has placed in the top three at many international competitions, including the Geneva Switzerland freestyle championships and the Asian X Games. Jeff Griffin is from Bakersfield and has been riding professionally since 1991. Some of his accomplishments include winning the Southern California Championship series, the Northern Series and finishing Top 5 at the World Mini’s race. Garrett Alhf is also from Bakersfield and is sponsored by O’Neal, which makes high quality motocross gear for adults and kids.
Rarely does the phrase, “something for everyone” hold true, but in the case of Kaboom!, it truly actually does. This evening’s festivities, which has been held annually since 2002, begins with a Monster Truck and Big Air Freestyle Motocross at 8PM. Just before 9:30PM, fireworks—that is, the literal variety—burst out. Pyro Spectaculars by Souza puts on these professional pyrotechnics so you don’t spoil your 4th of July by burning down your (or your neighbor’s) house. Throughout the evening, there is even a grand buffet spread, which includes fruit, vegetables, chicken and beef, rolls with butter and assorted desserts. Be careful, though, or you just might leave the event as fat as one of the monster trucks.
It’s doubtful our founding fathers ever imagined America would celebrate its beginnings with huge, noisy trucks, daredevil motorcyclists and controlled explosions in the sky. They likely never meant to create such a monster, let alone a monster truck, for that matter. Even so, Kaboom! is all about celebrating and having fun, so let the big wheels roll, and long may you run, America!
Kaboom! at Fairplex, 1101 W McKinley Ave, Pomona. (909) 623-3711; www.fairplex.com/kaboom. July 4, 8PM. $15-$45. All ages.