Monster truck fans 'gotta feel it in the chest'

Hagerstown Speedway hosts high-decibel derby

Hagerstown Speedway hosts high-decibel derby

July 18, 2008|By ANDREW SCHOTZ

WASHINGTON COUNTY -- Loud, growling monster trucks wowed the crowd Friday at Hagerstown Speedway.

Even the names of the trucks -- El Toro Loco, Stone Crusher -- were intimidating.

The trucks themselves oozed muscles and machismo. Each is about 11 feet high and 12 feet wide, weighs more than 9,000 pounds, and uses tires at least 66 inches high and 43 inches wide, according to a Monster Jam fact sheet.

As the pumped-up trucks screamed around the dirt track, the PA announcer yelled with excitement and thousands of people in the stands, including many children, roared, adding to the din.

Several fans said Friday that noise is part of the experience, but some, particularly parents looking after children, looked for ways to minimize it.


Shaun Rose of Hagerstown bought two pairs of ear plugs from a vendor. One pair was for his 2-year-old son, Kaidyn, the other pair for John Lawrence of Warfordsburg, Pa., to give to his 2 1/2-year-old son, Hayden.

Rose said he was protecting his son, who has tubes in his ears. Lawrence said his son doesn't mind the noise, but he wants him to use plugs anyway.

During a phone interview Friday afternoon, Theresa Schulz, a past president of the National Hearing Conservation Association, said ear protection at a speedway is a good idea.

She said national safety standards suggest limiting exposure to noise of 85 decibels for eight hours. If you have to raise your voice so someone three feet away can hear you, the decibel level probably is about 85, she said.

With noise of 90 decibels, which is about twice as loud, exposure should be no more than four hours. At 95 decibels, the period would be two hours.

A study Schulz forwarded measured the loudness of thousands of sounds. Two monster truck shows in Virginia and Indiana were measured in the stands at 97 and 94 decibels, respectively. The maximum decibel levels during the shows were 122 and 118, respectively.

At his racing souvenir stand at the speedway, Bruce Lockard of Westminster, Md., sold foam ear plugs for $1 a pair, but didn't feel he needed them for himself.

"I've been (around racing) for 30 years, so it doesn't bother me," he said.

At another booth, Chris Hayes of McConnellsburg, Pa., figured he'd sold about 30 pairs of ear plugs, well before the monster trucks hit the track.

His stand offered one type of plugs with noise reduction of 31 decibels and another with 30-decibel reduction. They were 50 cents a pair.

Hayes said only two people had bought the $10 racing ear muffs, which promise 23-decibel reduction by covering the ears instead of plugging them.

Eric Inkrote's 5-year-old son, Jonathan, had a pair of ear muffs around his neck, ready for use if needed. His father had just bought him a stuffed Taz truck.

Inkrote, of Falling Waters, W.Va., said his son fell in love with monster trucks a year ago. He insisted on a truck theme for his next birthday party.

Daren Crawford's 8-year-old daughter Brooke and 5-year-old son Gage wore their loyalty on their heads. Their hair was sprayed purple and green, the Grave Digger truck's colors, courtesy of their mother, Casey.

For every person trying to cut down the sound, many more were content to soak it up.

One was Bill McCleaf, a monster truck nut who said, "I want to be able to jump my neighbor's house."

McCleaf wouldn't stand for anything quieter than a jackhammer.

"You gotta have the noise ...," he said. "You gotta feel it in the chest."

What: Monster Jam

When: Today, 8 p.m. (pit party from 4 to 6:30 p.m.); Sunday, 2 p.m.

Where: Hagerstown Speedway, west of Hagerstown

Call 301-582-0640 or go to

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