Monster Jam Detroit 2017: What a bizarre, obnoxious and thoroughly enjoyable event

January 29, 2017


The loud and thunderous sound of fourteen high-strung performance monster trucks with 1,500 to 2,000 earth pounding horsepower was a very unique experience and something I have never been a part of before.  I was not sure what to expect when my wife and I were invited to take our son to this event with some of our friends.  But we were game enough to go along for the ride and see what it was all about.  Boy was it a fun adventure.

As we pulled off I-75 in downtown Detroit to find parking for the Ford Field event, I knew we wouldn’t be alone based on the number of people in the down town area on a snowy Saturday night.  Walking to Ford Field after finding parking felt like a Lion’s game was about to be played that evening.

After finding our seats and getting comfortable, we didn’t have long to wait before the announcers were getting the crowd ready for the show.  I was not prepared for the opening act.  All fourteen monster trucks turned their engines on and began to circle the arena to the roar of their engines and exhaust, as well as the strobe lights flashing down at the dirt course.  Not only did you have the visual and auditory stimuli, but also the scent of kicked up dirt and exhaust fumes.  The sound was so intense it was enough to make your heart skip a beat as you felt the exhaust tone all the way in your seat.  Our 5-year-old son had a huge smile during all of this, even with his ears plugged with protective earplugs (a must bring for all children and anyone else that has sensitive hearing).

Photo taken by Mike.

A timed race where each driver would make one complete lap of the course and the eight fastest times would then move onto the championship rounds was the first event of the night.  The designed course was in the shape of an oval and consisted of two jumps.

The second event was made up of the six drivers who did not qualify for the championship circuit race, as they competed in a wheelie hop competition where they were graded by a panel of judges and the audience based on their routine.

The third and final segment was the highlight of the night.  During intermission the workers brought out large bulldozers and moved the painted junkyard cars around and helped enlarge some of the jumps.  Now was time for the “freestyle” competition.  All drivers are allowed to compete in this, assuming their vehicle wasn’t knocked out due to mechanical issues.  These performances consisted of jumps, wheelies, doughnuts, crashes, rollovers and absolute mayhem as each driver puts together their best routine in the two minutes they are given.  This was our family’s favorite part of the night as it showed the true performance capabilities of these beasts as they went off the jumps and flew over 100 feet in the air.  They made it look easy and graceful.  The highlight of the freestyle competition was the final performance by driver Charlie Pauken in his “Grave Digger” truck.  He put on an absolutely stunning performance of bunny hops, wheelies, doughnuts and jumps.  Pauken made it look easy and stole the show.

If you asked me if I wanted to sit inside an arena while monster trucks revved their engines, kicked up dirt, blew transmissions and just made an overall ruckus, I would say you were bizarre for recommending that.  But after the event, I would have to say thank you for recommending that as my family and I had a blast.  All three of us left with smiles and happy we went.  Even if we were a little dazed and confused about what we actually put ourselves through.   Highly recommended, but I think I might take next year off and consider attending again in 2019.