Grave Digger, one of monster truck racing's most recognizable vehicles, is driven by Gary Porter.
The world’s most famous monster truck is coming to the world’s fastest half mile.
Thompson Metal Monster Truck Madness, presented by Beef O’Brady’s Family Sports Restaurant, has gained in popularity each season. This year’s event, however, promises to be the biggest yet as long-time fan favorite Grave Digger makes its Bristol Motor Speedway debut.
The metal-mashing madness kicks off at 7 p.m., Saturday, July 30 at Bristol Motor Speedway. A pit party, which is free for anyone with an event ticket, gets things started at 6 p.m. Tickets are $15 in advance or $20 at the gate. Children 10 and under are admitted for $5 with a paying adult.
Credited by many for lifting the sport to new heights, Grave Digger will fly in to Bristol as the flagship truck for SPEED’s Monster Jam coverage.
The man in the driver’s seat of the famous truck is none other than monster truck hero Gary Porter, who has logged more than 25 years in the sport.
Porter, who created and raced Carolina Crusher for many years, now finds himself in control of one of the most recognizable vehicles on the planet.
“It is a huge commitment. The fans expect nothing less from Grave Digger than to win or to crash, most of the time they expect both. We all understand the fans are where our paycheck comes from,” Porter said.
“When you hear the kids say you are their favorite truck, it comes from their heart. It isn’t a script. It is exactly what they mean.”
Porter has seen many changes in the monster truck industry and is quick to point out the significance of being able to hold events at venues like BMS.
“We used to think about how amazing it would be to run at Bristol Motor Speedway or Charlotte Motor Speedway, and now, it has happened,” he said.
“It is all because of the great fans monster truck racing has developed. It has been an awesome ride. When I started, I thought I would be in it for a couple years and the fad of running over cars would fade away, but it has really been the opposite. The sport is still young and to see so many second- and third-generation fans coming out is awesome.”
Spider-man, sporting Spidey’s familiar red and blue paint scheme, will also make its BMS debut. In addition, the show features a number of other favorites, including Avenger, Brutus, Samson , Gunslinger and the Bristol-based War Wizard.
The event promises to keep fans on the edge of their seats as some of the biggest monster truck names in the business race around the BMS infield, flying, crushing and destroying everything in their way. Two qualifying rounds will set the field for elimination racing, after which the trucks will return for everyone’s favorite: the freestyle event.
The jet car burn, one of the highlights from last year’s Thompson Metal Monster Truck Madness event, is also back for 2011, along with Team FMX, a high-flying, gravity-defying freestyle motocross team.
Fans who want to get even closer to all of the action can do so during the pre-race pit party. The pit party, which is free for anyone with an event ticket, begins at 6 p.m. and offers fans an opportunity meet the drivers, get autographs and pose for pictures next to the trucks.
Adding to the excitement of this year's event is the 50th Anniversary Fan Appreciation Day, also being held at BMS on July 30. It begins with track laps from 1 to 3 p.m. and continues until the infield is cleared for Thompson Metal Monster Truck Madness.
Track laps will be offered at no charge to fans with tickets to NASCAR events at BMS. Guests who are not ticket holders can do track laps by making a donation of any amount to Speedway Children’s Charities.
During the 50th Anniversary Fan Appreciation Day celebration, Food City, Pepsi and BKW will have refreshments available, while supplies last. Several local bands will also provide live entertainment for the event.
For tickets to Monster Truck Madness, visit the BMS ticket office or call (423) BRISTOL.