The Washington Town and Country Fair has welcomed a number of animals acts over the years — tigers, gators, chimpanzees, elephants . . . but this year is a first. Monsters.
Trucks, that is. You know, those trucks with the massive wheels that crush things and do stunts for entertainment and also complete an obstacle course in timed races.
Four of them will be at the Washington Town and Country Fair this Thursday evening, Aug. 8, in the motor sports arena.
The show/competition will begin at 7:30 p.m., but prior to that, a pit party will be held from 6 to 7 p.m. so fans can get photos with the trucks and autographs from the drivers.
Two hometown monster trucks will be featured in the show. Union residents Doug and Brenda Noelke will bring their trucks Smashosaurus, which is run on the truck that used to be Big Dawg and is now painted to look like a dinosaur; and TailGater, which is on display at Chris Auffenberg Ford in Washington today only, Wednesday, Aug. 7.
Doug Noelke is the driver of TailGater, and his friend, Dale Gerding, drives Smashosaurus.
TailGater was named Truck of the Year from 2008 to 2010 by the Monster Truck Racing Association (MTRA), and Noelke was named Driver of the Year and Sportsman of the Year several times between 2004 and 2008. He was named Rookie of the Year in 2001.
The other two monster trucks in the show will be the Ice Cream Man and Razin Kane, both owned by JR McNeal out of Florida.
There also will be a fifth monster, a special ride truck that spectators can climb in for a quick ride. This one has seats in the back and less horsepower. Rides will be given all day Thursday until 5:30 p.m. and again during the pit party from 6-7 p.m. Cost is $10 each.
Finally, there will be a Tuff Trucks competition held in between rounds of the monster truck show and freestyle motocross. For $10, locals can bring in their own cars or trucks — from a beat up derby car to a daily driver to trail toy to a dune buggy — to drive around a special course.
Drivers will compete one at a time. Winners will be determined by best course time. Cash prizes and trophies will be awarded to the top three times.
Pacific High Grad Producing Show
The show is being organized and produced by Justin Storie, Pacific, who started his business, JS Productions, a year after he graduated from Pacific High School in 2010. He had already been working in the field for several years.
Storie was 3 years old when he went to his first monster truck show with his father, David Storie, Villa Ridge, at the old Savvis Center.
“After that, I was hooked,” he said, noting he was drawn to all kinds of motor sports — mud bogs, demolition derbies, motocross . . .
“I spent quite a bit of my childhood at the fairgrounds watching them,” said Storie, with a smile. His mom is Sherry Basler of Red Oak, Texas.
When he was still in high school, Storie knew he wanted to work in the monster truck business. Dan Patrick, owner of the monster truck Samson, said the best way to get a foot in the door is by volunteering.
So the summer between his junior and senior years, Storie volunteered with a monster truck team in Illinois. He traveled with them to events as far away as Bristol, Tenn., and Charlotte, N.C., using vacation time from his job at Wal-Mart to be able to do it.
After one summer volunteering with the team, Storie accepted a job with them. He learned how to fix things, how the industry worked overall, about communication between teams . . .
“I’m still learning things,” said Storie. “You never stop.”
JS Productions is one of only 15 to 20 monster truck production companies in the country. The 2-year-old company has produced shows at other fairs and races, but this will be its biggest event to date.
It’s also the one Storie is most proud of because it’s his local Fair.
“I’m excited to be about to do something in front of my hometown like this,” he said.
In booking trucks for the show here, as for any event, Storie said he looks for people who “run their trucks hard, but sensible, and who do a great job.
“I want great races, great free-styling with big air, great doughnuts and keeping the audience entertained.”
What to Expect
Monster truck competitions have been around since the early ’80s. There are two types of monster trucks, said Storie — old school style, which are basically pickup trucks with lifted frames and 66- to 72-inch tires; and modern monsters with customized chassis, nitrogen shocks that are better able to absorb the hits and the same 66- to 72-inch tires.
(Compared to 16- to 20-inch tires on regular cars and trucks.)
If you’ve never been to a monster truck show before, Storie said be prepared for a lot of adrenaline and a lot of noise. Earplugs will be sold on site, or people can bring in their own.
The show will last between 90 minutes to two hours.
The first part of the show will be a qualifying race to determine lane choices, said Storie.
Next is the actual race, which will include jumps and a turning course that will challenge the drivers.
Storie also noted he is planning a few surprises.
The finale will be a free-style event, where one truck at a time does tricks and stunts on the course.
Storie expects the monster truck show to be well received by the crowd. Already people around town seem to be excited about it, he said.
“Kids of all ages will love it,” he remarked.