This weekend marks the fourth stop of the 2013 Maple Leaf Monster Jam tour as the tour makes their way to Budweiser Gardens in London, Ontario for three shows – two on Saturday and one on Sunday.
One of the drivers who will be part of the six truck line-up is Chris Bergeron, who drives Brutus.
“Been a couple years, been four years since I’ve been there, but looking forward to there and having some fun,” he said. “It’s a nice little venue and we love coming to Canada. Come there probably 10 times a year, the people are always friendly. It’s always fun to race there. The fans are awesome. It’s kind of our home away from home.”
Bergeron has been strong so far this year, making it into the semi-finals in each event that he goes to.
“There’s always ups and downs,” he said in speaking of the year so far. “You have some weekends you have problems. For the most part, we’ve won some races, been in the semi-finals every week. Haven’t got that big win yet, but have been close.”
He has also put on some solid freestyle performances, but like racing, is still looking for that big run. Lasting the whole time allowed for the run is a big part of it and when he started, sometimes the truck would simply break early.
“When I first started racing, I was just attacking, go as hard as I could, and the truck couldn’t handle it,” he said of his freestyle philosophy. “Now it’s kind of come out, you don’t want to come out too mellow, but you don’t want to come out crazy, so you kind of pace yourself because we do have bonus times now. It’s always go as hard as you can, but you do have to have a little plan behind it.
“But as far as planning exactly, that changes drastically because of how you come off an obstacle. So you kind of look at the track and see the different angles you want to jump stuff. But whatever is in front of you, gas and go.”
The 13 year Monster Truck veteran has been racing all of his life as he started out in BMX bikes when he was eight years old, before moving up to Motorcross.
“Then started mud drags, which I then hooked up with Jim Koehler, driver of the Avenger Monster Truck,” Bergeron said. “Helped build his truck and he started racing, I was the crew guy, and saw how much fun he was having and decided to build my own truck.”
The idea behind Bergeron’s truck Brutus came about thanks to his mud car and an artist he met in Kansas.
“My mud car was called “big dog racing” and we couldn’t use the name big dog racing because of licensing problems so we named it Brutus,” Bergeron explains. “We were racing in Kansas, who drew a bunch of pictures of trucks and we liked it. Actually, he was the guy that designed it and built the body and it was kind of a school project. It was kind of his creation, but our idea.”
Being part of the team known as “Team Scream”, Koehler and Bergeron are always having fun at the events, kicking the energy up to another notch. Bergeron says the whole reason they started this deal was to simply have fun.
“It was like well, he went to build a monster truck so I started building and actually took us three years to build it and it was a lot of fun,” Bergeron said. “Then we started traveling together and you’ve always got those stories and its always high energy. We always did it – we made a pack that if we weren’t having fun, we weren’t going to do it. We’ve been doing it for 15 years and it’s still a ball.”
With a career expanding that long, it’s no secret that there have been many memorable moments. One that stands out for Bergeron is his first World Finals appearance.
“I guess being in World Finals the first time is because you finally made it because it’s the real big leagues; you feel like you’ve made it to the top,” he said. “I guess that’d be the most memorable, but there’s so many memories that you can’t put an exact pinpoint on what’s the best one.
Other moments he spoke of include competing at Ford Field in his hometown, the success in New Orleans, and the crash that he had in Atlanta eight years ago.
For those that want to get involved in Monster Jam – Bergeron says simply you need to get out there and start working on the trucks. Frank Krmel started off as a crew member for Bergeron.
“He started out as a crew guy when he was 15 years old,” Bergeron says. “He came out to the garage and helped us and then started driving the truck around the pits and helping us at shows. And then when Jim and I had weddings to go to and things like that, he drove for us. And then now he is driving the Grinder truck, one of the big names out there.
“Same with Steve – he is Jim’s brother, came out to the garage and started helping us and now he’s a driver.”
Brad Allen, who is driving Mega Bite this weekend, started out the same way so Bergeron says it’s best to get involved with a team in your area and start wrenching.
This weekend, Chris Bergeron will be driving his Brutus truck in London at Budweiser Gardens, joining 2012 Monster Jam World Finals Freestyle Champion Cam McQueen in Northern Nightmare, Jon Zimmer in Grave Digger, Brad Allen in Mega Bite, Bob Robbins in Aftershock and Peter Robbins in Krazy Train.
Tickets are still available for all three shows – Saturday at 2pm, Saturday at 7pm and Sunday at 2pm. Tickets range from $52.00 to $20, with Pizza Pizza Kids Tickets available for kids ages two to 12 for $15. Both 2pm shows will have 11:30am Pit Partys, where fans can walk the track and get autographs from the drivers. Tickets are available for the Pit Party for $10.00. Tickets can be purchased online at http://www.BudweiserGardens.com.
For more information on the Maple Leaf Monster Jam tour, check out http://www.monsterjamcanada.ca.