COLUMBIA — Drowning out cheers and applause from an energized crowd, massive engines roared to life beneath the vaulted ceiling of the rodeo arena at the Boone County Fairgrounds on Saturday.
The Winter Nationals Monster Truck Spectacular drew car enthusiasts and thrill seekers alike to the fairgrounds to witness first-hand these super-sized vehicles and their retinue. Children wearing earmuffs or earplugs to drown out the sound waved checkered flags and crowded the railing separating stands from the dirt-covered show floor to get a closer look at the towering trucks.
The event was put on by Outlaw Monster Truck Spectacular, which is based in Oak Hills, Calif., and performs about 100 shows each year, Ron Woodbridge, chief operating officer, said. Woodbridge said he was ecstatic about Saturday’s sold out shows and the crowd that filled the rodeo arena to capacity.
Saturday’s show consisted of performances at 2 and 7:30 p.m. with extreme freestyle motocross stunts, sand track races and monster truck wheelie competitions that flattened three junk cars at a time.
“Are you ready for some monster truck action?” Matt Isbill, master of ceremonies shouted as the event began. Isbill then lead the crowd in a countdown from 10, ending with everyone in the stands yelling: “Gentlemen! Start your engines!”
The audience cheered and whistled as the four motocross riders jumped their bikes 30 feet through the air. With each successive jump, the riders performed mid-air kicks or hands-free landings. As fewer body parts maintained control of the bike’s direction, the rider’s instinct and skill took over to safely land the vehicles to the crowds delight.
In between acts, local truck enthusiasts were invited to register and enter their modified, high performance personal vehicles in a time-trial race around the sand track on the show floor.
In the main act, these drivers cleared the stage for the professionals of vehicular attractions, the monster trucks. With names like Brute Force, The Crashmaster, Evolution and Nite Stalker, these trucks were as intimidating sitting still as in motion. With each lap, the trucks’ front wheels came crashing down on a three-car pyramid of skeletal, old sedans. The atmosphere of the rodeo arena quickly filled with diesel smoke, dust and flying bits of car.
Finally, the Fire Dragon, a 30-foot tall, car-shredding, flame-spitting wrecking machine, lumbered onto the show floor to make its Columbia debut Saturday as the finale.