Monster Jam World Finals Competitor No. 8: Lee O'Donnell
New Jersey native Lee O'Donnell has officially been announced as one of the 32 competitors for Monster Jam World Finals in Las Vegas this March at Sam Boyd Stadium.
O'Donnell spent the first 11 years of his career as a fill-in driver - filling in for drivers whenever needed. He wouldn't just fill in easily, though, as lots of times he came out on top, winning some of the biggest stadium events along the way.
"I’ve been racing off-road since I was around 16 years old," O'Donnell told MonsterJam.com. "I wound up doing the Pace Series for stadium off-road racing and had a lot of success there. I was running one of those events and they had a Grave Digger® there. I was saying that I’d love to drive one of those, you know, just ripping around in a field. The lady working the registration desk said that she could make that happen. Her husband happened to be Mike Wales, who is now my boss."
His hardwork paid off and in 2010, O'Donnell was given the nod to start driving Iron Man full-time. While waiting to land his full-time gig, O'Donnell said he was growing frustrated due to other drivers being hired rather than him, but it just made him push harder.
"Going back to when I filled in driving Taz and started going into the bigger stadiums, in a headlining Monster Jam truck where there was lots of pressure to perform right away, we would go into those stadiums and grab wins, in racing, anyway," he said. "I’m pretty sure every year after that I’d snag a racing win somewhere in some Monster Jam truck. There are so many guys that can’t say that. Yet when a ride would open up, it would always go to somebody else. So, yeah, it really burned me.
"Now I seem to have found a home. I was finally in the right place at the right time. Iron Man came out and they needed somebody who would do a good job, perform, win, and not tear up that body. The body of a Monster Jam truck is so expensive and we don’t have that many of them. So, that’s how I got the job. You’ve got to do a good job racing: you’ve got to perform in freestyle, but try not to damage the body. It’s a very fine line, but I like walking that line."
O'Donnell will now try to take the comic character to Las Vegas and capture the biggest win of them all - World Finals Champion.