On Saturday, July 1, ThunderROARus monster truck driver Colton Eichelberger set a brand new world file by leaping 9 monster vans lined up facet by facet — however earlier than Eichelberger may tackle the problem, he wanted steerage from a Monster Jam legend: Tom Meents. And two days earlier than the stunt, I had an opportunity to talk with Meents about simply what it takes to information a racer into historical past.
Full disclosure: Monster Jam invited me to affix the collection at World Finals XXII in Nashville, Tennessee, the place it put me up for a weekend and arranged a large amount of behind-the-scenes entry — together with an hour-long round-table interview with icon Tom Meents.
After a long time of competitors, Meents was philosophical as he answered our questions throughout a round-table interview. He selected his phrases fastidiously, usually after a wistful look out on the still-drying observe. Every time he spoke, it was with the form of deliberation you’d count on from a long-time legend and trainer at Monster Jam College.
“I can inform you for a reality we’ve by no means made it but,” Meents instructed Jalopnik in the course of the round-table after I requested how he and Eichelberger had been making ready to perform the demanding feat.
“A few of the necessities are going to be traction — which, if [the jump] occurred at present, that might be a problem,” he stated, referring to the damp observe.
“We’ve an enormous run in with a brief stopping distance, so we’ve been arising with the precise gear, the precise angle to have within the air. Do it’s worthwhile to cease the tires within the air so when it lands, it’s already pre-braked? You must simply think about.”
Whereas the complete slate of Monster Jam rivals really feel like one massive household, Meents and Eichelberger are fairly actually that: Eichelberger is Meents’ stepson and has stuffed in for Meents up to now, all whereas carving his personal identify into the file books with a seven-truck leap at World Finals 20.
A nine-truck leap can be troublesome for anybody, however Eichelberger can be dealing with a novel problem: he was compelled to drop out of his scheduled 2022 tour, making his World Finals XXII leap effort his official return to Monster Jam. Returning to competitors simply to face one of the daunting feats in Monster Jam historical past as much as that time wouldn’t be simple — however Meents revealed a bit about how his steerage aided Eichelberger.
“The cool factor about Colton is that he’s a younger dad […] and I can simply take him out of all that pondering,” Meents stated. “With my stunt expertise, I can take some worries off his plate, so all he has to consider is getting within the truck and hitting the change.”
A extreme thunderstorm postponed the beginning of the World Finals, leaving the observe damp. Simply because the two-wheel expertise problem wrapped up, the vans set to be jumped rolled out into place, spanning a good portion of the stadium. Meents watched on earlier than operating to supply just a few remaining phrases of recommendation to Eichelberger. The pomp and circumstance was shortly minimize quick attributable to rain, and moments later, there was ThunderROARus lining up on the gate. The large engine screamed, after which he was off.
For almost 4 seconds, Eichelberger soared by means of the air as fireworks skittered throughout the circuit. Then, his wheels had been on the bottom. He had landed it.
Certain, ThunderROARus did slide into the wall and lose a few of its fiberglass bodywork — nevertheless it was a small worth to pay for yet one more entry within the file books.