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Monster trucks rumble at speedway

July 13, 2007|By ANDREW SCHOTZ

With throaty growls, amplified to the max, monster trucks bounced and smashed their way into the hearts of a throng of cheering fans on Friday.

It was the start of a weekend when behemoth trucks with cartoonishly muscular physiques take over Hagerstown Speedway.

Thousands of spectators were expected, according to a woman helping promote the event.

Based on the sea of green-and-purple pennants waving in the bleachers, a large percentage of the crowd was there to see Grave Digger.

The 10,000-pound truck has a 540-cubic-inch blown-alcohol-injected Chevrolet big block engine, according to a Web site devoted to the truck. It produces about 1,500 horsepower.

Grave Digger creator Dennis Anderson is competing on the monster-truck circuit for a 25th year, although Paul "Pablo" Huffaker was behind the wheel at Hagerstown Speedway on Friday.

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Bill Bane of Boonsboro, one of many Monster Jam regulars, had his 4-year-old son, Camdon, with him. Bane was taking advantage of free tickets from his employer, Hagerstown Ford, a sponsor of the three-day event.

Camdon was intent on getting a Grave Digger T-shirt. His father obliged.

Were the trucks cool? Camdon nodded his head yes.

Were they loud? Camdon nodded again.

Too loud? He shook his head no.

Wendy Sorrell of Martinsburg, W.Va., said her son also is a Grave Digger fan.

She and her daughter, Jessica Breeden, were seeing monster trucks in person at the speedway for the first time. Breeden described the experience as a rush of adrenaline.

Which appeared to be the sensation that the public-address announcer was going for as he repeatedly whipped the crowd into exuberance.

"You guys would like to see the monsters destroy stuff, right?"

Thousands screamed in the affirmative.

"You guys would like to see the monsters race, right?"

More screams.

Wheelies? Screams.

Side by side? Another round of screams.

Not even the loudest shrieks, though, could drown out the decibel-cranked trucks as they steamrolled junk cars and sprang into the air after climbing dirt ramps.

Children no more than 30 feet away grinned as they smushed their hands over their ears. Some parents safeguarded their children by inserting earplugs.

This also was the first visit for Tim Wheeler of Boonsboro, who brought his 3 1/2-year-old daughter, Bridgette. His friend, Teresa Yost of New Market, Md., was with her 5-year-old son, Connor, and 9-year-old daughter, Sarah.

Wheeler said he and Bridgette saw a monster truck at Hagerstown Ford on Thursday night and were impressed, so they came to the show.

The enormity of the massive machines was part of the thrill.

"She was up to the lugnut," Wheeler said.

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