Hagerstown's Black Stallion Local man drives monster truck

July 15, 2004|by ANDREA ROWLAND

Michael Vaters loved monster trucks before they existed.

"I used to draw pickup trucks with them big farm tires on 'em before there were monster trucks," said Vaters, 39, who has been driving monster truck Black Stallion for 23 years. "I started with Black Stallion on the streets of Hagerstown."

Vaters lives in Hagerstown when not touring the country on the monster truck circuit, soaring over other monster trucks in reverse and pulling the front end of Black Stallion into a wheelie after it slaps the ground from a big jump.

He won't be able to participate in the U.S. Hot Rod Monster Jam at Hagerstown Speedway this weekend due to a prior commitment, but Black Stallion fans can check out the truck and talk with Vaters from 3 to 7 p.m. today at Advance Auto Parts on Virginia Avenue in Hagerstown.


"I want to thank everybody for supporting me," Vaters said. "My town and community is really behind me."

Vaters said he was one of the first monster truck drivers to jump over another monster truck while speeding forward and the first driver to attempt the move in reverse - without success in July 2002. An axle broke and he crashed, but Vaters was determined to try again. He changed Black Stallion's shocks, turned the truck's tires around, switched the pitch on the ramp and made a few other modifications before trying the daring freestyle move again in September 2002.

"Man, it was a beautiful jump, 69 feet, 11 inches. It's pretty much a world record in reverse," Vaters said. "Everybody went nuts."

Fans can watch a video of Vaters' failed reverse jump, and learn about more of his monster truck adventures, on his Web site at

"Check my Web site out and see some of the crazy stuff I've done," he said.

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