Monster Jam rumbles into Charlotte’s Spectrum Center Friday with monster truck mayhem courtesy of Master of Disaster, Stinger, Jailbird, and the granddaddy of them all – Grave Digger. Here’s a rundown of what to expect, who to expect, and who’s behind the wheel of a few of our favorites.
This dawg wears a collar and wags its tail as it plows over the competition. The dog-themed truck is Fido on wheels and a favorite on the dirt.
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Driver: Kevin Crocker, who piloted Backwards Bob during the 2016 season.
Four-legged (wheeled) family: There are four members in the Monster Mutt. There’s the original brown, the Dalmatian, the Rottweiler, and the Junkyard Dog.
Must-have merch: With its floppy ears and protruding tongue, the plush version of the Monster Mutt makes for an adorable stuffed “animal.”
The first Canadian-themed truck debuted in 2011 and proudly bears the Maple Leaf.
Driver: Calgary native Cam McQueen.
About the name: Canadian fans suggested the name Northern Nightmare through an online contest, and the truck – which proudly sports the country’s flag – also headlines the annual Monster Jam Maple Leaf Tour.
Must-have merch: Northern Nightmare captured its first World Freestyle Championship in 2012 and the youth champ T-shirt captures the truck mid-flip.
Monster Mutt isn’t the only dog on the Monster Jam roster. The cartoon Great Dane may flee from ghosts and ghouls, but offers stiff competition when it comes to wheelies (not surprising considering how often he’s seen running on two legs).
Driver: Linsey Read is one of four women who captain the big, fun-loving dog.
Another superhero? Scooby is the third Warner Bros. character to make his way to Monster Jam following DC superheroes Batman and Superman. An unlikely but beloved hero in his own right, Scoob made his debut in 2013.
Must-have merch: The Scooby jersey captures the character perfectly, while the mini helmet and cap are fun for the kids.
A legend on the monster truck circuit, Grave Digger is one of the winningest, most popular trucks in the world.
Driver: Texan Pablo Huffaker, one of eight drivers behind the wheel of different touring Grave Diggers.
Old school origin: Dennis Anderson came up with the concept in 1981, building the first Digger from a 1957 Chevy panel wagon. Anderson retired in September after an injury earlier in 2017, but his children Adam (winner of multiple championships) and 20-year-old daughter Krysten are carrying on the family business behind Grave Digger’s steering wheel.
Must-have merch: Grave Digger is probably the most branded name in the business, with its image inspiring beer steins, rubber masks and lunch bag designs.
With the back half of its purple metal body shaped into what looks like the narrowing, curling tail of a scorpion and carefully crafted metal that bends in corrugated folds like an accordion, Stinger is one of the most uniquely designed trucks on the circuit.
Driver: Zane Rettew, who declared his desire to drive monster trucks as a child, even shadowing driver John Seasock in eighth grade. It was then that the seeds of his scorpion-themed truck were planted.
Jack of all trades: Rettew is both owner and driver, who studied diesel mechanics in school in order to work on the monster truck that he was sure was in his future.
Of note: Unlike the aforementioned vehicles, Stinger runs at 1600 horsepower (most claim 1500) on a 526Cl BBC engine with a 2-speed Abruzzi Powerglide transmission.
When: 7 p.m. Friday, and 1 and 7 p.m. Saturday. Pit party at 10:30 a.m. Saturday, prior to the early show.
Where: Spectrum Center, 333 E. Trade St.
Tickets: $15 and up.
Details: 800-745-3000; www.ticketmaster.com.