Journal Express, Knoxville, IA

September 26, 2013

Monster Truck drivers enjoy job

By Perry Bell Sports Editor
The Journal Express

---- — Feld Motorsports puts on the largest Monster Truck Show in the world.

One branch of that organization was in Knoxville this past weekend for Monster Jam.

David Smith, driver of the King Krunch Monster Truck hails from the Houston, Texas area. He has been competing with the organization for the past 16 years, entertaining fans of all ages.

“I got my start in the business when a friend of mine had the truck. Then I took over driving. When he retired, I then bought it all,” Smith said.

Smith continued, “I learned over time that you get better with practice. Our practice comes at the shows. You do something cool with the truck and the next time you work at making it better.”

One part of the job that the drivers deal with is mechanical breakage.

“Mechanical breakage is simply part of the job. The biggest thing we have going for us is safety. The trucks have to pass inspection. I’ve never been injured while competing. We have a six point safety belt that we wear. We wear full fire equipment and a Hans device,” Smith said.

Smith said he is on contract with the company. He normally works around 42 weeks per year.

Just how is life on the road?

“It’s boring and it’s a lot of work. There is approximately 50 hours of work on the truck preparing for the next show,” Smith stated.

“We don’t go out on the track unprepared. Our techs make sure the trucks are up to par.”

Smith is married and his wife is a teacher back in the Houston area. She attends some of the shows in the area.

Smith has taken King Krunch all around the country including stops in Mexico and Canada.

“I have two trucks and one trailer,” Smith said.

In addition to owning King Krunch, he also owns the Nitro Hornet truck.

Feld Motorsports starts the racing season with the trucks in January. From January through March, David estimates that he competes in 11 to 12 events.

The Feld Motorsports company could have anywhere from eight to 15 Monster Truck shows going the same day.

“You can’t be everywhere. There are eight Grave Diggers alone,” Smith said.

Gary Porter, driver of Grave Digger at the Monster Jam show in Knoxville this past weekend makes his home in Wadesboro, North Carolina. The truck itself is based out of Kill Devil Hills, N.C.

Kenneth Feld is one of the largest promoters in the world. He personally owns Disney on Ice, Barnum & Bailey Circus, Super Cross and Arena Cross, Disney Lite and many others.

At one time, Feld also owned the PBR rodeo and IHRA before selling those properties.

David and his two trucks are independent contractors into the shows. Feld owns 60 plus vehicles that compete in the shows across the world.

“All of our drivers are professional drivers,” Smith commented.

The personality of the drivers is important especially when they mix with the fans that attend the shows.

“We realize that a lot of people take vacation time to come and see our shows. Everywhere we go, we aim to please the fans,” Smith stated.

According to Smith, it’s the fans that build the rivalries within the sport.

Attending a Monster Jam show includes watching the drivers compete in a variety of stunts, ranging from a wheelie contest, to actually racing.

“We are paid performers who work to put on a show and race for the fans,” Smith said.

All of the drivers have favorite places to perform. For Smith he likes competing in Sublimity, Ore., for the Harvest Festival and Salinas, Calif.

The biggest event for the group however is at Las Vegas at Sam Boyd Stadium, home of the UNLV Rebels.

Smith said the international season for the Monster Trucks started a week ago with shows in the Netherlands, Finland, Sweden and Australia to name just a few of the many venues Feld Motorsports books shows at.