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Monsters prowl Hagerstown Speedway

July 19, 1998|By GUY FLETCHER

The U.S. Hot Rod Monster Jam came roaring into the Hagerstown Speedway Friday evening, providing thrills and even some spills for the crowd of monster truck thrill-watchers.

The loud, massive trucks, about 11 feet tall and 12 feet wide, featured testosterone-charged names like Monster Patrol, Carolina Crusher, Bigfoot, Liquidator and Thrasher.

"I just like the noise. I just like to watch them crush the cars," said Robert Lanham, 43, of Shenandoah Junction, W.Va.

His 6-year-old son, Bobby, spent the time before the show gathering autographs from various drivers, including that of his favorite truck, Bigfoot.

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But the clear favorite among the estimated crowd of 5,832 was the green and black van Grave Digger and its driver, Dennis Anderson.

"Grave Digger brought us out here," said Colleen Woy, 34, of Chambersburg, Pa., who came with her two children. "We like how it's painted and how it looks."

The crowd roared with approval during Grave Digger's preliminary run, when it seemed the truck was on the verge of flipping over while trying to jump over the row of junk cars.

"It's exciting," said Robby Butts, 44, of Martinsburg, W.Va., just after Grave Digger roared by his grandstand seat.

In a later run, Grave Digger did flip over, drawing a loud cheer from the crowd. When Anderson got out of the truck, apparently unharmed, they cheered even louder.

The trucks weigh between 10,000 and 12,000 pounds, running on tires 5 feet 6 inches tall. Pushing them over the hills and cars are 2,000-horsepower custom-built engines that cost about $35,000 each. The entire truck can cost more than $100,000.

Though the trucks compete against each other, the contest is a mere backdrop to the spectacle of noise, gears and enormous power.

Curtis Dodson, of Greencastle, Pa., said he came to his first monster truck show last year, and is now hooked.

"You're used to seeing them on TV all the time. But it's different when you're here," Dodson, 27, said.

"It's just good, old fun. Just everyone enjoying themselves," he added.

Terry Wood, 42, of Hagerstown has been coming to the truck shows for 10 years, bringing different members of his family. This year he brought is 3-year-old son, Michael, and earplugs.

"The little guy wanted to see the monster trucks," Wood said.

The Monster Jam continues tonight at 8 p.m. Gates open at 5 p.m. Tickets are $14 for adults and $5 for children.

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