Living with a Monster

Truck driver Dan Evans competes in Monster Jam, a motorsport event originating from the United States.
Truck driver Dan Evans competes in Monster Jam, a motorsport event originating from the United States.ST PHOTO: FELINE LIM

Monster Jam driver Dan Evans has never been injured soaring through the air or going in reverse

8Q

For all the death-defying stunts that veteran Monster Jam driver Dan Evans has had to do in a 3m-high truck, the 54-year-old has suffered nary an injury.

Even though some of his feats involve soaring through the air in a truck or zipping through an entire obstacle course in reverse, the worst injury he has ever suffered in his 24 years as a monster truck driver is soreness in the joints.

"Once you're locked into the truck, you really don't move. The roll cages that we've built in the truck will take some extremely violent hits and not collapse. I've never had a broken bone in 24 years," he says in an interview with The Straits Times.

He was in town last month to promote Monster Jam, a motorsport event originating from the United States where truck drivers compete in racing and freestyle events.

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The live event will make its debut here on Aug 19 at the National Stadium.

  • BOOK IT / MONSTER JAM

  • WHERE: National Stadium, 1 Stadium Drive

    WHEN: Aug 19, 2 to 6pm (pre-event experience), 7pm (main event)

    ADMISSION: $25 (go to www.sportshubtix.com.sg)

It is billed as the largest Monster Jam production in South-east Asia. Ten Monster Jam trucks - each outfitted according to its name and character - will make their appearance here.

Evans is best known for driving The Destroyer, a truck owned and operated by his family. His wife Lorrie Evans, 54, was the crew chief in charge of directing the driver and pit crew, and his only son Derick, 35, had also commandeered The Destroyer.

While there is usually a lot of rivalry among drivers, Monster Jam is less about the competition and more about the fans, says Evans.

"To see the excitement level, to see the smiles on the children's faces, it makes everything we do 100 per cent worth it," says Evans.

"We all pull together as a team because, at the end of the day, it's the fans we want to win. It's not about the win or lose. We're one big travelling family."

1 What is your most memorable experience in Monster Jam?

Once, my son and I were both in an arena show in the US and we got into the finals. So, it was a father racing son kind of thing.

It was the first time we had met in an arena and he actually beat me. But that was cool with me - it was just a really good experience.

2 Which is your favourite truck to drive?

My favourite is The Destroyer truck, which started my career. We were able to make a very big name for the truck and I drove that for about 18 years. It was family-owned and I think the fans enjoyed the family part of the truck.

It was me, my wife and my son. People started rooting for us. We were like the underdogs and we were able to take the underdog truck and bring it to the top every weekend.

3 Every truck has its own look and persona. Do you believe that every truck feels different?

It really does. Like when you get in the El Toro (Spanish for the bull), your mindset as a driver is, "I'm in crazy bull", and when the crazy bull goes all out, it is going to be crazy.

If you are in Monster Mutt, it is a whole other different perspective, like you think, "this is a dog truck, this thing's cool, the kids love it".

So, yes, each truck has its own character and you become a part of that character when you drive it.

4 What is the hardest stunt to master?

I was always known for hitting the obstacles in reverse, instead of forward. And not too many people were able to do what I did.

It is like driving a car down the highway at highway speed, except in reverse.

5 Do you have any pre-game rituals?

Every time I get in the truck for an event, I put on a new pair of socks. The socks are so squishy because they have not been walked on yet, so you can feel everything through them. It is amazing what you can feel with new socks.

I probably bring like 24 pairs of socks if I am going to be on tour for a while.

6 What is your normal ride outside of Monster Jam?

I have two trucks. Go figure, right? We like to camp a lot, so we have a big truck to haul the huge camper and then another regular pick-up truck.

7 What do you do in your spare time?

Fishing, camping outdoors, racing, trail riding or anything outdoors. People always ask me if Monster Jam is a hobby. Well, yes, it is. I even have a big truck at home to play with.

8 How would you like to be remembered?

I think I would like to be remembered as one of the top 10 drivers in the world.

But we do a lot of work with children's hospitals and a lot of charity work, so I guess that is what I really want to be remembered for - the good things that we did for the families.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 19, 2017, with the headline 'Living with a Monster'. Print Edition | Subscribe