On January 19th and 20th, Monster Jam will roar its annual show into the Rogers Center, bringing the fans to the feet with the monster trucks. The driver line-up includes past champions, drivers who have had success in Toronto in the past and a midst of new talent, too.
Northern Nightmare℠ driven by Cam McQueen
Last year marked the debut of Canada's own truck - Northern Nightmare. This year, the truck returns with Cam McQueen still behind the wheel, ready to tear up Canada during the Monster Jam Maple Leaf tour.
McQueen proved his skills this past year at World Finals in Las Vegas, winning the Freestyle Championship and bringing the title to Canadian soil. It marks no surprise that he won the 2012 Freestyle Championship as he came close in 2011, losing in a tie-breaker to Jim Koehler.
Despite his success the past two years in Las Vegas, McQueen did not have a good outing in Toronto last year as he flipped early during freestyle during the Saturday show. Then in the Sunday show, he spin out in the last corner during qualifying, and then make the same mistake again later on in racing. To add insult to injury, in freestyle, he would flip over with 57 seconds left on the clock. He would only score 12 points on the night.
“There’s no holding up back here,” McQueen said afterwards. “You can’t hold back here with guys like George (Belhan) and Jim (Koehler). I was sitting my truck, just sweating bullets, and everything I was going hit, I hit it twice as fast. So the first jump there snapped something in the back end. Tried to save it here but by the time it came down, it was up the other way.”
McQueen got started after filling in for an injured driver at a show.
"I volunteered at shows whenever they were close to my area," McQueen told MonsterJam.com. "I helped out by cleaning trucks, loading trailers, and doing whatever else they would let me do. My first driving opportunity came about when another driver was injured and I was asked to fill in."
McQueen originally drove the Nitro Circus truck and has been competiting for five years now.
Now the Calgary, Alberta native will try to continue that success as the Maple Leaf tour begins.
Grave Digger® driven by Jon Zimmer
Zimmer’s trip to Toronto in 2013 will mark the first ever trip to Toronto for the Vermont native as he joins the Grave Digger team in 2013. With seven years of driving experience and being previously invited to compete as part of World Finals, Zimmer is a force to be wrecking with. Having him as part of the Grave Digger team just makes their fleet of drivers stronger.
Zimmer got his start in Monster Jam by crewing in 2000, before beginning to drive in 2005.
While Zimmer may be new to the team, he will have big shoes to fill as Team Grave Digger is always strong in Toronto, having won 13 freestyles and 10 races over the past 10 years (20 freestyles; 20 races). However, their last win came in 2010 so they are hungry.
They also have had some memorial moments, including one very special one in 2011. Charlie Pauken came flying out over the first small jump, looking to put what is known as a. He then went after the bus stack where he soared over, making an incredible save. After saving it and despite the truck not being too damaged, Pauken drove off the track through the tunnel, leaving the arena. Everybody thought it was over for Team Grave Digger, though that wasn’t to be.
Seconds later, two Grave Digger trucks came flying out of the tunnel with Pauken leading the other truck. Pauken made one final jump and parked his truck while the other truck completed the run, completing classic Grave Digger moves that have won the team multiple wins. At the end of the run, it was discovered that driving the second Grave Digger truck was team driver Randy Brown.
Max-D℠ driven by Neil Elliot
While the past two years Tom Meents has driven Max-D in Toronto, this year Neil Elliot returns to the driver's seat. Now don't think that means they'll be less destruction because Elliot has proved on multiple occasions that he can cause just as much destruction as Meents.
Elliot has been competiting since 2000 when while helping Meents in his shop, Meents offered Elliot the chance the drive the team’s Bulldozer truck. Since then, Elliot has harnessed his talent, pulling some spectacular freestyles that fans can recall today.
El Toro Loco® driven by Chuck Werner
Chuck Werner will make his first trip to Toronto since 2009 when he took the victory in racing driving Bulldozer while coming up two points short in Freestyle.
Werner got his start behind the wheel the same way that Elliot did by helping out in the team’s shop before being given an opportunity to drive.
Metal Mulisha driven Todd Leduc
Entering his third year of competition, Todd Leduc will make his first trip to Toronto driving the Metal Mulisha truck. After success racing off-road trucks with his dad on short courses and in the desert, Leduc accepted an opportunity to give Monster Jam a try virtue of his friendship with driver Lee O’Donnell.
Leduc drove Blue Thunder in his first year of competition, but joined forces with Brian Deegan in 2012 and drives Metal Mulisha when Deegan isn’t driving it.
Batman™ driven by Norm Miller
13-year veteran Norm Miller will make his Toronto debut in 2013 driving the Batman truck. Throughout his career, the California native has had a lot of success driving a variety of trucks, including Grave Digger®, Blue Thunder®, Black Smith, Bearfoot, and now Batman. Miller got his start in Monster Jam after success with his father in their family motorsports team, competing in mud racing and in truck pulling.
Bounty Hunter driven by Jim Creten
While Bounty Hunter has been to Toronto before, this will mark the first time that Kansas native Jim Creten will be behind the wheel. The 2005 World Freestyle Champion got his start in 1995 after purchasing a monster truck following some success mud-bogging. With a heavy mechanical background, Creten’s trucks are known for the high amount of horsepower that they produce.
Scarlet Bandit driven by Dawn Creten
Jim Creten will be joined by his wife Dawn, who will also make her first trip to Toronto. She got her start in 1998 and has been competing for wins ever since.
Avenger driven by Jim Koehler
Last year marked the first time in six years that Jim Koehler had competed in a Monster Jam at the Rogers Center. His return to Toronto was extremely exciting as he put on a show to remember, including a spectacular flip with the body ripped off the truck, to take home the victory.
Right away when he came out, he went for the biggest the obstacle, clearing it at a height that the fans had not been seen yet. Koehler kept the performance up, hitting other obstacles at high heights with some donuts mixed in.
This had kept the fans pumped up and excited, but it wasn’t enough, yet. That moment came when he tried to cross-thread with the biggest obstacle and flipped the truck. It looked like that it would be the end of his run, but that wasn’t so as Koehler landed the truck on its wheels and kept going after the obstacles wide-open.
The result was him scoring 34 points, including a special Pizza Pizza “11” score from one of the judges. The three judges are normally supposed to rate the drivers’ performance from one to 10. However, a special 11 is kept for performances that go beyond expectations.
The victory was redemption for Koehler after not competiting in racing earlier in the day due to an oil leak.
It marks no surprise as the 2011 Freestyle Champion always puts on a show no matter what city he is in. Now Mr. Excitement returns in 2013 to Toronto to try and back it up.
Wrecking Crew driven by Steve Koehler
Once again, Jim Koehler will be joined by his brother Steve Koehler. Last year he put on an impressive performance, scoring 25 points during his freestyle on the Sunday.
Steve Koehler got the behind the wheel in 2010 after spending the previous seasons crew chiefing for his brother Jim.
Aftershock driven by Bob Robbins
Bob Robbins will return to Toronto in 2013 after his thrilling victory in racing against Grave Digger in 2007. Robbins has been competing since 2000 after building his own monster truck following success with Big Foot.
Bob will be joined by his brother Peter Robbins, who will be driving Krazy Train.
Other drivers that will be part of the show include Paul Breaud driving Instigator, Dave Rappach driving Rap Attack, Tim Mente driving Storm Damage and Steven Thompson driving Hurricane Force.
The Toronto show is always exciting and one not to miss. If you’re looking for some fast, loud horsepower for the whole family to enjoy, this is one show check out.
Rogers Centre Monster Jam® shows run Saturday, January 19 at 7pm and Sunday, January 20 at 2pm. Ticket prices start at $20 for adults and $15 for Pizza Pizza kids tickets for children 12 and under. Pit Party Passes are available for purchase for $10.
Tickets and Pit Passes are available at the Rogers Centre Box Office, all Ticketmaster outlets, online at www.ticketmaster.ca, and at (855) 985-5000. There are a limited number of TAP ($130) and Gold Circle ($52) seats available for both shows. Additional fees may apply.
The Pit Party will be held from 3pm to 5pm on Saturday, January 19 and 11am to noon on Sunday, January 20th. The pre-show pit party gives fans the chance to see the monster trucks up close, meet drivers, take pictures and get autographs. To access the Pit Party, event ticket and Pit Party Pass must be presented upon entry.
For more information on the Toronto show and the entire Monster Jam Maple Leaf tour, check out http://www.monsterjamcanada.ca.