Unlike other motorsports, Monster Jam not only focuses on racing, but also has freestyle and best trick competitions during events. Racing generally takes the shape of one on one elimination races over obstacle courses, while freestyle and other competitions use the remainder of the show floor's skatepark-style jumps and ramps.
The monster trucks that give Monster Jam its name are required to have 66-inch tall tires, supercharged, methanol fueled V8 engines, and weigh 10,000 pounds. Each truck is given a name and a theme and its fiberglass body is shaped and painted to fit that theme. The trucks themselves take promotional precedence over the drivers, and fans generally care more about Grave Digger vs. Max D rather than Adam Anderson vs. Tom Meents. The over-the-top nature of the trucks tends to give outside observers the idea that shows are rigged like in professional wrestling, but to the contrary events are completely unscripted the unpredictability is what makes the sport entertaining.
While most trucks are owned by, and drivers contracted to, parent company Feld, independently owned trucks are also booked for many shows, and some Feld-owned teams are given a fairly free hand, including running their own shops, in part to keep the competitive factor in the series.
The main competitive season, which runs from January to April, features multiple tours, including flagship football stadium events and smaller arena tours that run in both smaller cities and cities where the outdoor stadiums are too cold during the season. At the end of the main season, in early May, the winners of the respective tours, along with other invitees, compete in the Monster Jam World Finals, which were held annually in Las Vegas until 2019, when they moved to Orlando. Following World Finals, various exhibition tours are held, including a major stadium one in the northeastern US to hit up the cities that were too cold during the main season, and some international dates.
Beyond live events, Monster Jam also encompasses a TV show, video games, and multiple toy lines. There is also now an international tour that brings such fine American entertainment to the rest of the world.
Monster Jam Trucks
- Grave Digger - The Black and Green and purple Wrecking Machine, Grave Digger is the flagship and most popular truck in the series. Originally created by Dennis Anderson as a mud bogger in the early 1980's, Digger's hot rod hearse aesthetic and Anderson's hyper-aggressive driving made it an early superstar in the sport, and one of the first trucks to have a proper personality. Dennis has retired as of 2017, and his son Adam is the de facto leader of the 8 or so touring Grave Digger drivers.
- Max D - Short for Maximum Destruction, this robot themed truck is primarily piloted by legendary driver Tom Meents. It has more World Finals Championships than any other truck on the roster, and was the first truck to land a double backflip.
- El Toro Loco - A Not as You Know Them replacement for former truck Bulldozer using the same bull-shaped body. Originally meant to appeal to Spanish-speaking audiences, the truck turned out to be far more popular than it's predecessor and has long since outlived it.
- Avenger - Driven by "Mr. Excitement" Jim Koehler, its one of a handful of properly successful and famous independently owned trucks. An Invincible Classic Car.
- Zombie - Exactly What It Says on the Tin
- Monster Mutt - A dog-themed truck driven by a new driver, or drivers, almost every year. It started out under Chad Reed, who drove it at it's first show and then left due to family issues, and is currently under Tanner Root and Kevin King (at the time of this writing).
- Madusa - Driven by the former WCW professional wrestler of the same moniker, Madusa is one of the most successful trucks driven by a woman. Debra "Madusa" Micelli's unusual change of professions has made her one of Monster Jam's best known competitors.
TV Tropes! This! Is! The Monster Jam Tropes Section!
- Acrofatic: These trucks stand 12 feet (3.6 meters) tall and weigh up to 12,000lbs (5400kg), but can hit heights of up to 50ft (15m) on jumps, as well as do flips, somersaults, donuts, wheelies/nose stands and a number of other crazy tricks. The combination of long-throw suspension and low pressure tires allow for massive bounce, making these huge machines appear to defy gravity. The mass of the wheels also allow the drivers to control the vehicles in the air by braking and letting the inertia reorient them before landing.
- And the Adventure Continues: Happens a lot when former drivers come out of retirement.
- After Jersey Outlaw retired, driver Mike Wine stayed dormant for several years until 2007 when he came back to drive Monster Mutt.
- Art Evolution: Grave Digger's graveyard livery was originally incredibly dark and muted when it debuted. When it was redesigned in the late 90s, the livery would become much more vibrant and detailed, with purple being added to give it more color.
- Big Badass Rig: I mean, they're monster trucks, for goodness sake.
- Bragging Theme Tune: The theme used in the 2005 Speed broadcasts.
- Car Fu: Beyond crushing normal cars, as monster trucks are wont to do, occasionally, officials will decide that it would take just too long to pull a wrecked truck off the track before the next freestyle. In which case, said wrecked truck then becomes part of the track...
- Chronically Crashed Car: You paid to see Grave Digger upside down, the guy next to you paid to see Grave Digger upside down...guess what's happening to Grave Digger tonight?
- Drives Like Crazy: Just about every Monster Jam driver by this point, but definitely applies to Dennis Anderson and Tom Meents first and foremost. Anderson's full-throttle, to heck with the consequences driving revolutionized the sport.
- Early Installment Weirdness: Grave Digger looked incredibly generic in its first years, with it starting out as a plain red truck as a mud bogger◊ and would gain a blue and silver livery◊ when it became a monster truck. It wouldn't be until 1985, 4 years after it debuted, that it would gain the iconic graveyard livery. The second blue and sliver livery however, would be used again two decades later as the basis for Grave Digger the Legend.
- The Grim Reaper: Grave Digger, naturally.
- Just Keep Driving: Although toned down in the last few years, generally, blowing out tires, losing entire wheels, and even flipping the truck over is not enough to stop drivers from trying to keep things going, and it usually makes for the most spectacular moments for fans.
- Parts Unknown:
- Some drivers are billed from locations that don't exist in real life. For example, at one point, drivers for Batman were billed from Gotham, which is the fictional city where the comics take place.
- Subverted with Grave Digger, for which all drivers of are billed from Kill Devil Hills, North Carolina, which is a real place and the base of operations for the team. However, only the Anderson family members who drive Grave Digger trucks are actually from there, and most of the truck's drivers aren't even from North Carolina (for example: Tyler Menninga is from Iowa, and former driver Charlie Pauken hails from Maumee, Ohio). This even extends to former driver Pablo Huffaker, who was still billed from Kill Devil Hills when driving Grave Digger, even though his Grave Digger trucks were based separately from the rest of the team at his RaceSource shop in Texas.
- Ramp Jump: The primary part of any Monster Jam event, in either racing or freestyle, is catching air off of the dirt launch ramps set up for the show. With specialized chassis and suspensions, the trucks can easily take it.
- Retraux: Grave Digger the Legend is a delibrate throwback to Grave Digger's second incarnation, using the same Blue and Silver livery and everything.
- Thememobile: Several superheroes and characters have had Monster Jam trucks licensed, including Superman, Batman, Iron Man, Wolverine, Captain America, Spiderman, Wonder Woman, Scooby-Doo, and even Donkey Kong. In fact, at one point Monster Jam had licensed trucks from both DC and Marvel, so it was one of the few places where you could see Iron Man and Superman at the same place.
- Un-person: Hey, wasn't Bigfoot the first monster truck? Didn't Bigfoot (and therefore monster truck!) creator Bob Chandler play a big role in the early history of what became Monster Jam? The answer to both those questions is, "Yes," but you'd never know it if Feld had their way. Bigfoot is and always has been an independently owned team, and had a falling out with then-USHRA management in 1998 over various licensing issues, and, outside of a Ford 100th anniversary event in 2003, hasn't competed in Monster Jam since. They continue in smaller tours, but received a big boost in 2019 when they joined the newly launched Hot Wheels Monster Trucks Live tour (started by former Feld Entertainment execs in conjunction with Hot Wheels after Hot Wheels lost the Monster Jam license to Spin Master).