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Grave Digger gets some air. Courtesy photo.




Monster Jam

Where: Verizon Wireless Arena, 55 Elm St., Manchester
When: Friday, Jan. 2, at 7:30 p.m.; Saturday, Jan. 3, at 2 and 7:30 p.m.
See: verizonwirelessarena.com for tickets. Pit pass tickets cost $10.




Monster mash
Monster Jam trucks return to Manchester

01/01/15
By Allie Ginwala aginwala@hippopress.com



Twelve-foot-tall trucks will crash and smash their way through obstacles at the Verizon Wireless Arena on Friday, Jan. 2, and Saturday, Jan. 3, when Monster Jam comes to town.  

“Monster Jam is basically the time of your life,” said Brianna Mahon, a Monster Jam driver. “We compete against each other in [the] hope of bringing home the title in freestyle and racing and other events.”
Monster Jam is a combination of racing, stunts and showmanship that started out as a sideshow attraction at tractor pulling events, according to the Monster Jam website. Over the years, the small scale event grew as technology and driver ability increased, with added modifications to help the trucks perform grand, high-flying stunts. 
Monster Jam trucks are about 12 feet tall and 12 feet wide with 66-inch tires. Each one is decked out differently to match its name, like Grave Digger, El Toro Loco or Monster Mutt. With 1,500 horsepower, the trucks weigh about 10,000 pounds. Mahon drives the Scooby Doo monster truck, which debuted in 2013. 
“It was designed to resemble our beloved great dane Scooby Doo,” Mahon said in a phone interview.
To take her driving to the next level, Mahon has been involved in Monster Jam’s training program for the past few months. A rigorous program, Mahon said it helps her work on every aspect of the show. 
“We’re not training for us,” she said. “We’re training for the fans, to put on a better show.”
Monster Jam shows feature a number of events, including the very popular freestyle competition. The freestyle portion gives each truck just under 2 minutes to wow the crowd with aerial stunts and maneuvering prowess. Anything from cars and buses to boats and airplanes could find their way onto the tracks for drivers to mangle and tangle with their 10,000-pound machines.
Judging for the freestyle competition is based on a scoring system that awards points for categories like variety of tricks, hitting the most obstacles, wheelies and trick combinations, according the Monster Jam website. Deductions are given for rollovers, stopping, and moving in reverse.
Hair stylist and salon owner during the week, adrenaline junkie during the weekends, Mahon, 24, was a professional motocross rider until 2011 when she had a serious injury that forced her career to end. 
“It kind of put me in limbo with what am I going to do for the rest of my life,” she said. 
Post-injury recovery, she started racing sprint cars before a veteran driver heard her story and suggested she try out Monster Jam. Now Mahon splits her time between two passions. 
“I love making people beautiful [and] I love flying high in anything with a motor.”
Given her background in motocross, Mahon is used to spending weekends on the road.  
“I’m used to living on the road and I love it,” she said. “I love seeing new things and experiencing new towns and meeting new people.” 
This Monster Jam weekend is Mahon’s first visit to the Granite State. The closest she’s been to the northeast thus far is New Jersey. 
“I’m kind of excited to see what Manchester is about,” she said. 
An Illinois native, she doesn’t know much about the city, expect that its nickname is “Manch-Vegas.”
“We have a little time to do a bit of exploring,” she said. 
She hopes to spend some time discovering the city before the first show. 
Mahon loves her job driving Scooby Doo and thinks people who come to see Monster Jam will feed off of the adrenaline. 
“To be up close and personal with these huge Monster Jam trucks and have the noise beating in your chest, it is just pure adrenaline,” she said. “It’s indescribable how amazing the shows are … and how much fun the crowd has. We love to electrify the crowd and do crazy stunts. You can’t go anywhere else and see this.”
For a chance to get very up close and personal with Scooby Doo, Grave Digger, and other Monster Jam trucks and drivers, stop by Party in the Pits on Saturday from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Fans can take pictures with the trucks, meet the drivers and get autographs. 
 
As seen in the January 1, 2015 issue of the Hippo.





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