Monster Jam trucks to roll into Chicago

On Feb. 11, the Monster Jam motor sports entertainment tour roars into town, playing five shows at the Allstate Arena in Rosemont. If you’ve never seen monster trucks before, they are to motor sports what the WWE is to professional wrestling, except instead of shielding your kids’ eyes from bone-crushing hits, you’ll be cheering alongside them as 10-foot-tall trucks turn wheelies.

Frank Krmel is the man behind the wheel of the Advance Auto Parts Grinder, a six-ton, 1,500-horsepower behemoth. We caught up with the Montgomery resident to chat about why 12,000-lb. trucks are the coolest thing your kids have probably never seen.

How did you get started in racing?

My father took me to shows when I was 3 years old at the old Silver Dome in Detroit, and I knew Iliked it from the first timeIsaw it. That never went away, and I knew I wanted to be involved, so I just started racing anything I could – go-karts, junior dragsters, radio-controlled cars, whatever – starting in middle school. Then in college, I met the driver-owner of a monster truck and started working at his shop and going to events on weekends and eventually he started to let me drive.

What captivated you as a kid?

The thing with trucks is they’re 10 feet tall, 12 feet wide, they weigh 12,000 pounds – they’re bigger than life. You see the trucks on TV and video games and toys, but when they’re in front of you, it’s a whole different perspective. These are the closest thing to cartoon or a comic book that you’re ever going to see.

What’s in store for your Chicago show?

Our shows start out with a wheelie contest, where the trucks just try to get as vertical as they can. Then there’s side-by-side racing and the monster jam freestyle, where each truck gets 60 seconds to do whatever they want. It’s basically just a minute of the craziest stuff we can come up with.

Who will this show appeal to?

You know, I’m not sure there’s a “type,” but everyone who comes to a show always leaves with a look of “wow” on their face. The Allstate Arena is great because it’s one of our smaller venues, so it’s as close to the action as you can get.

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