Monster Jam Rolls into Providence

Monster trucks are tearing up the dirt pit at Providence's Dunkin' Donuts Center this weekend.

Monster Trucks roared into Providence's Dunkin' Donuts Center this weekend for Monster Jam for four shows, including one on Friday night, two on Saturday and another sold-out show on Sunday. The pit party allowed guests to get up close and personal with the drivers of the massive trucks, including favorites like Grave Digger, Monster Mutt, Crushstation, Backdraft, Hurricane Force, Thrasher, Storm Damage and Eradication.

Anyone who nabbed a pit party ticket got the chance to meet the drivers in person and have autographs signed and pictures taken. Kids witnessed just how big the trucks really are by standing next to the gigantic tires.

Many of the drivers spoke about the importance of Monster Truck safety. "They are built better than the cars we drive every day. They are designed to take any crash you put them through," says Greg Winchenbach, who drives Crushstation, a truck that looks like a lobster, complete with two claws in front and a tail in the back. "They have more safety features than Nascar."

Winchenbach is from Jefferson, Maine, and he previously worked as a lobsterman for four years, until he got involved with Monster Truck rallies three years ago. He designed and constructed the lobster truck himself. "I wanted to represent my state and what I did for a living," he says.

Grave Digger driver Gary Porter has been operating monster trucks for twenty-seven years, starting when he was twenty-three years old. He has been controlling Grave Digger since 2001. Porter explained that driver safety is secured by custom-built seats to fit the driver, a five-point safety harness and roll cage, and a head restraint system. The drivers also wear a helmet, firesuit and gloves.

"The trucks are built for spectator safety number one, and driver safety number two," Porter says. Every truck has a remote-ignition interrupter, which is controlled by a safety official, who can shut the truck down instantly with the hit of a button. "If a track official sees that we're doing something out of the ordinary, and that we don't have control of the vehicle, they just push a button and it will shut the truck off," Porter says.

That was evident later on in the show when several of the trucks flipped over. Crushstation landed on its roof, and green slime poured out of its side to resemble the tamale, or lobster guts, that are inside a real lobster.

More than three thousand fans packed the Dunk. There were a surprising amount of women and young girls who attended, including Morgan Bellavance, age eight, who attended the show with her father, Jeff, and eleven-year-old brother, Ryan. "Monster trucks aren't just for boys," Morgan says. "It's a lot of fun. It's loud and there's lots of crashing and oohs and ahhs."

One couple from Cheshire, Conn., wore matching Grave Digger jackets. Anthony Carbone and Jessica Rose looked like management, but they were actually fans. They have been travelling all over the Northeast for the past four weekends for the stops on the tour, and they will head to Las Vegas for the finale. "My mother brought me when I was three years old, and I've been going ever since," says Carbone, who is now twenty-seven.

Rose is along for the ride. "I like going, and it's to support him," she says.

Watch a quick video summary of the show below.

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