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Monster Truck Wars: Bring ear plugs, leave impressed

William Stehn
Monster Truck Wars’ “Shark Attack” does a jump at Garrison Arena on Jan. 20, 2024.

Live entertainment phenomenon Monster Truck Wars traveled down to Clemson on Saturday, Jan. 20, putting on quite a show at the T. Ed Garrison Arena and Expo Center. The venue was a frigid 28 degrees, but you would have a hard time telling based on how much buzz was in the arena leading up to the first event.

Fans milled around picking up concessions and pairs of earmuffs in preparation for the over 1,700-horsepower trucks about to take the stage. The smell of boiled peanuts and funnel cakes was present but well overpowered by engine exhaust and dust. Big mounds of dirt and lines of chalk built out a rudimentary race track.

Four trucks sat at the far end of the arena floor. There was “T-rex,” a green dinosaur head on wheels. “Shark Attack” is a similar story: a menacing-looking shark truck. “Muddy Girl” looked like an oversized pickup with a pink and white paint scheme. “The Outlaw” also looked like a standard pickup on steroids, this time with a stencil outline of a cowboy wearing a bandana. All the trucks had die-cast models, hats and flags with their likeness available at a merchandise stand.

The trucks raced in a quick figure-eight loop against each other for seeding and then again to determine a champ. Tires spun, and jumps were taken, but it wasn’t exactly clear who was faster. The level of spectacle was too much to even care who really won.

After every event, a rodeo clown came out and entertained the crowd. Sometimes, he had children race on little electric ATVs. Sometimes, he brought out volunteers to have a dance-off. Sometimes, he ran around handing out free hats and shirts while cracking jokes.

Around the middle of the event, a space-age truck with six wheels and an articulating cherry-picker cockpit rolled out to the middle of the arena, and an announcer told spectators that he is “Galactron,” a defender from space to keep fans safe from “Reptar.” At that very moment, a similar truck styled like a space monster entered and threatened the crowd with world domination. A quick “space battle” with smoke, sound effects and bits of fire finished with Reptar vanquished and the world safe from harm.

The classic monster truck event — the freestyle competition — rounded out the event. Every truck performed more donuts and revved its engine even louder, and the crowd roared in excitement at the flamboyant and daring stunts each truck pulled off.

After the arena cleared of the competitors, a bus lifted five feet off the ground and gave fans willing to spend a little more money the chance to ride in a truck around the arena in an exciting fan experience.

After all was said and done, the arena cleared, and the drivers stuck around for photos and questions.

A great way to spend your Saturday, Monster Truck Wars is a must-see next time they drive into town.

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William Stehn
William Stehn, Asst. Photo Editor
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