Monster Jam's first quarter of action ended with the World Finals, but this summer the intensity of those shows will be highlighted at three major stadiums. Baltimore, Philadelphia and now East Rutherford, New Jersey, will get the major intensity of a 16-truck battle for supremacy.
However, the debut event at MetLife Stadium, the home of the New York Giants and the New York Jets, will have an extra highlight to culminate what the folks at Advance Auto Parts Monster Jam have deemed the "Path of Destruction" tour.
Tom Meents, the lead driver of Maximum Destruction, is stepping aside his usual driving duties to long-time teammate and friend, Neil Elliott, for that show. But, Meents will be in attendance, as he will be on hand to attempt something not seen before from any monster truck driver, promoter, or fan.
In 2009, during the encore of the Monster Jam World Finals, Meents nearly pulled off the first monster truck backflip, as he over-rotated, and actually landed the rear of the truck on the dirt before rolling backwards. Since then, drivers such as Larry Quick, Cam McQueen, Jimmy Creten and Ryan Anderson have all successfully pulled off the full rotation, landing all four wheels on the ground and driving the truck off the track.
Meents, however, is preparing to put all those successful attempts to shame. Meents has built a special "stunt truck" and he is preparing to be the first driver to successfully land a double backflip.
This move needs to be clarified as in March, George Balhan pulled off two backflips, but some were calling it a double. However, that is not the case.
Balhan performed "consecutive" or "back-to-back" backflips. His truck completed one rotation, landing on the nose, and then as he hit the throttle to keep the truck in motion, it rebounded and did a full second rotation. But, to call it a double backflip would be mistaken.
What Meents is hoping to do is the same thing long-time freestyle motocross legend, now NASCAR driver, Travis Pastrana, did at the X-Games. Before the tires land on the ground, Meents is attempting to do two complete rotations. That's 720 degrees, without rebound, just pure momentum.
The truck Meents is going to run in order to pull this off will not be the same truck he will drive at Baltimore this Saturday, nor next Saturday at Philadelphia.
This truck is one that has been kept at the Meents shop in Paxton, Illinois, and has been modified for safety concerns, and also to assist in trying to make the rotations. The truck setup is similar to when Meents first attempted the backflip in 2009. The rear suspension will not have coil springs, which is common on every truck Meents has driven in his career. This will allow for more spring when the rear tires hit the ramp.
The drivetrain has also been modified, as the engine, transmission and transfer case have been lowered, bringing the center of gravity down in the truck.
More safety has been built into the truck, similar to 2009. When Meents first did his attempt in Las Vegas, the roll cage was reinforced with more tubing, along with more padding for the seat. In this truck, everything is different when it comes to the driver.
Tom is going to be sitting in the center of the truck, compared to a conventional left-side steer in his normal truck, and the rollcage has been double-barred, making the actual cage itself more sturdy. Meents himself is sitting lower in the truck, allowing for more head clearance should the worst-case scenario occur, which would be landing on the roof. This brings back concerns of what happened to Ryan Anderson at this year's World Finals, as during the encore the truck he was driving had the cage collapse, causing Anderson to have a broken neck (which he has told he will be 100% recovered later this year).
All the preparations have been made, and Meents has tested out the truck to make sure every component is functioning properly. Now, in just over two weeks, Meents will attempt history in the monster truck industry.
The risks are high, but to the fans of Monster Jam, if there is one driver, and one truck, that could pull off what a few years ago was considered an impossible move, that driver is 10-time World Champion Tom Meents and his futuristic SUV, Maximum Destruction.
For tickets and all the latest information on Monster Jam's debut in East Rutherford, New Jersey, along with a video timeline of Meents constructing his stunt truck with his team, visit MonsterJam.com.