They have names like Northern Nightmare, Grave Digger and Captain's Curse.
And thanks to movies like Disney's Cars, they have a fan base ranging from toddlers to seniors.
The Maple Leaf Monster Jam Tour roars into B.C. Place Jan. 26, with 12 massive trucks taking part in the dirt-flying, car-crushing action. The Maple Leaf tour is the Canadian leg of Monster Jam, a monster truck circuit crossing North America. For those of you out of the loop, a monster truck is a pickup modified to include wildly oversized wheels and suspensions.
Cam McQueen, the 2012 Advance Auto Parts Monster Jam World Finals Freestyle Champion, told the Courier most monster trucks have a 66-inch wheelbase, are 12-feet wide, weigh in at about 12,000 pounds and boast up to 1,500 horse power. To put that into perspective a Hummer sport utility vehicle has less than 250 horsepower. McQueen added the trucks typically cost between $200,000 and $250,000.
According to McQueen, the monster truck motorsport, which today includes jumping over and crushing other vehicles, evolved out of early "redneck" games, such as tractor pulls and mud bogging.
"It's always been about having the most powerful vehicle and who has the biggest toy," said McQueen, during a phone interview from his home in Kelowna last week. "But now it's evolved into more of a legitimate sport."
McQueen said the sport has become so sophisticated, and popular with all walks of life, selling out a stadium like B.C. Place in a city as urban as Vancouver is commonplace.
"Urban centres like Vancouver are our biggest shows," said McQueen, who added the sport's appeal to children is a no-brainer.
"It's every child's dream to drive a truck with huge tires and I'm lucky enough to be doing that."
He noted toymaker Mattel has a series of Hot Wheels cast-iron monster trucks available for sale, so he's often greeted at shows with kids clutching favourite model trucks.
"Some kids will arrive with their entire collection," he said.
Besides McQueen's Canuck-themed Northern Nightmare, Monster truck fans can expect to feel the noise from popular entries including Grave Digger, Max-D with its tricked-out Decade of Destruction body, Captain's Curse, Double Trouble, Captain USA and Western Renegade, driven by Canadian Barry Parkin.
In addition to the racing and freestyle competition, die-hard monster truck fans can arrive at the stadium early to enjoy the Party in the Pits pre-show experience. The party rewards fans with an opportunity to meet the drivers for autographs and photos.
McQueen said meeting the fans is not only one of the best parts of being a monster truck competitor, it also sets it apart from other sports.
"That's part of the whole deal," said McQueen. "The Pit Party is like a big meet and greet, where the fans get to meet the drivers up close and personal. You don't see that at other venues."
The Pit Party takes place at B.C. Place Stadium from 3 to 5 p.m. and tickets are $10. The Monster Jam show starts at 7 p.m. Earplugs or ear protectors are recommended for children. (McQueen said earmuffs are a good option as well.)
For more information and tickets visit monsterjamcanada.ca.