Over the weekend I took a short trek (sarcasm) out to Las Vegas from blustery New York City to check out the 2018 Monster Jam World Finals; I was not disappointed by any means. The Feld Entertainment team really knows how to treat their guests right. First, I flew out on Friday morning on a direct flight from John F. Kennedy airport on Virgin America Airlines – first timer – to the Vegas landing strip.
Next, I arrived at Sam Boyd Stadium where I was greeted with open arms from my lovely PR friends. They gave me a tour of the area, introduced me to Feld executives and put us up in an upper suite where we were able to catch all of the action from both nights of the event. I have to say, it was pretty fashionable as you will discover throughout the article.
The Feld Entertainment team reserved rooms at the luxurious Hilton Lake Las Vegas Resort & Spa where I was able to finally salvage warmth from the, what seemed to be, 19 northeastern storms back in New York. It was such a great experience and am very grateful.
Now that I have chatted about the experience, let me dive into the sport of Monster Jam.
I have to admit that I knew nothing about Monster Jam before coming out here outside of the basics – they are larger, monstrous trucks that ravish through what’s in their way.
Monster Jam World Finals
The weekend consisted of two nights of events. The first was the racing portion. This was set up in a double-down face-off.
Did I lose you?
That’s how I felt when I first heard that. I think the confusion was present in the expressions on my face but it all clicked once I saw the bracket system that they used.
Basically, two drivers line up at a time, go head-to-head and trail on a specific course. They are rounding corners and making a single jump toward the finish line where it determines who wins that particular heat race. The heats consisted of quarter-finals, broken down to the semi-finals and then ultimately the finals where the best of the first two rounds face-off and compete.
The results from Friday night’s race consisted of Adam Anderson, who drove one of the “Grave Digger” trucks, beating out Tyler Menninga by .061 with a final lap time of 16.364 seconds.
The second evening was the freestyle event. This is the event that everyone may be a little more familiar with. The drivers have a dedicated amount of time to showcase their abilities in flips, tricks and basically anything that they can do with these monster trucks. It certainly is a spectacle. They are braving ramps and getting airborne to win the event, which is scored by fans through the Monster Jam app. This was an interesting factor as it does not allow for bias from judges, rather the fans decide and determine the victor of the night.
The choreography of the event and how quickly these huge vehicles move through each heat race is incredible. The Monster Jam Operations Team has this down to a science and allows the show to move seamlessly, never leaving a dull moment.
Speaking of choreography, the freestyle event was beautifully demonstrated as it finished with Ryan Anderson securing the “W” with a combination of a backflip into a moonwalk.
This was the first freestyle win for Ryan Anderson and two victories for the Anderson family as they took both racing and freestyle championships.
Following the main events, Feld and Monster Jam really grabbed my attention by showcasing an interactive and beautifully depicted rendition of the Rampage trailer with Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson. This portion of the night featured three monster trucks which represented characters from the new feature film and they incorporated clips of the movie on screen as the action was happening on the track.
In my opinion, this truly portrayed what the Feld company can do with storytelling and marketing, which is clearly evident in Monster Jam as well as their other properties. I think they brilliantly incorporated this and want to applaud them for it.
Feld Entertainment and Monster Jam
Also, during my time in Vegas, I attended a few press junkets where we were able to sit down and talk with Feld executives and learned a great deal of the Monster Jam portion of the company. We talked with Juliette Feld, COO and Executive Vice President of Feld Entertainment, Magnus Danielsson, Vice President of International Motor Sports and Bill Easterly, Vice President of Operations.
I found out that the series is heading in a more international direction and aiming at major venues worldwide to attract new audiences, as well as remaining loyal to the current fans.
“When we go into a new market, we’re basically launching a new brand,” said Daniellson as he spoke about how each demographic and territory is a new feat of its own and requires specific attention.
He spoke about how Monster Jam is not just about attracting children but rather the family overall. This is becoming more and more relevant as the series is expanding and they are attracting new professional drivers; including a larger presence of women. I learned that Monster Jam is one of the only international series to have women race on the same circuit as men, which is a major stepping stone to its success.
Side note: women in the series kick ass and trailblaze over competitors – pun definitely intended.
“Monster Jam is unique because it’s an intersection of high-performance and the athletes,” said Feld. “It’s authentic and resonates with fans around the world … It’s non-verbal entertainment.”
She was absolutely correct. The trucks are loud, beasts of vehicles that let the noise and tricks speak for themselves. It’s an incredible sight as these trucks fly through the air, spin, flip, race and other technical tricks that I have no clue what they are called. It was a form of entertainment that I’ve never seen in person before and I am glad I was able to experience it.
Monster Jam University
Have you ever wanted to learn how to become a professional monster trucker? It was not on my bucket list but I learned that there are steps to become one. It’s through Monster Jam University … and yes, you will be graded. So, bring your “A” game because you have to go through this schooling in order to be a Monster Jam athlete.
The University evaluates and tests your skills and abilities as you are learning from professional trainers. They ensure that safety is at the top of their list and want to be sure that you are learning all the necessary attributes it takes to become a successful driver.
The Illinois-based school has circuits that are assembled as exact replicas of the tracks that are seen throughout the series, so athletes can experience every grade of dirt, jump and obstacle that they may see during an actual event. This is also where Feld and the Monster Jam technicians can test the various terrains and courses that they would like to use in competitions.
Designed like an accelerated course in school, Monster Jam University packs in lessons over a minimum of nine days and you are on the ground learning for eight hours a day. Attendees have access to three different types of vehicles to experience the nuances of each and how they handle on the tracks.
Another portion of what topped off this journey’s stylistic demeanor was my new Prada sunglasses that GlassesUSA.com provided – they have a whole lineup of designer brands that can make any sporting event classy, fashion-forward and just overall stylish. We all know that I live for style and will aim to make sports even more trendy with a hint of flair. GlassesUSA.com definitely helped out with this.
Can you tell that I enjoyed the weekend at Monster Jam World Finals in Vegas? It was an eye-opening experience to a sport that I was not all too familiar with and I am glad that I was able to check it out.
If you are interested in the series and want to check out events that are close to you, visit the Monster Jam website.
Follow Shaun Melady on Instagram at @ShaunMelady.