Monster Jam comes to Orlando Saturday

Coming this Saturday to Orlando’s Citrus Bowl is Monster Jam, a monster truck “rally”, race, and stunt competition in a stadium setting. We were invited to preview the event last weekend in Tampa; today’s photos are from that event.

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If you’ve not been before, you can consider the event consisting of a few distinct phases. First, the afternoon “party in the pits”—either a separate admission $10 ticket, or bundled in with the price of some combo tickets—where you can preview the trucks up close and take pictures with the drivers. During this afternoon phase, a great many folks are out tailgating in the parking lot. It’s a festive environment!

Phase two begins as the show starts at 7pm. The trucks take turns racing each other in time trials, going over a couple of hurdles but nothing too extreme.

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It’s phase three where things kick into high gear. The “freestyle” competition gives each driver 90 seconds of time to impress us with tricks, airtime, and frankly as much derring-do as they can manage. If they don’t overturn their trucks or suffer mechanical problems – both are common – then they get an additional 30 seconds of “bonus” time. Then they receive a score for a panel of judges that rates their run, mostly on the basis of excitement and skill.

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A few favorites always emerge, Gravedigger and Max-D foremost among them (though last weekend, it looked like the Monster energy drink driver had the best run to me). Some of these trucks soar to unbelievable heights. Normally at least one is able to flip upside down and land the trick, but only one truck tried (unsuccessfully) last week. Everyone gets excited when a skilled driver is able to literally right an all-but-upside down truck using acceleration of just one tire.

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It’s a fun night for bringing kids, or for tailgating (or even for both!) The crowd in Tampa has always been colorful but respectful and family-friendly.

Tickets can be purchased at TicketMaster and www.monsterjam.com – tickets start at $20 when purchased within a week of the show.

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