Notes from a professional show

I took my boys to “Monster Jam” tonight in the Citrus Bowl. That is quite an organization that puts that event on; they ran 10 monster truck shows this weekend, which covered the country from coast to coast. Naturally, an organization of this size has the bucks to get the flashy equipment, but here are some observations regarding the organization and presentation of the show.

First, they really move things along. They ran qualifying, elimination races, the championship, the “freestyle” competition and a demo-cross trailer race in 2 hours, 15 minutes. Yes, that includes a 15 minute intermission! Although the product they presented is very different from ours, no on left there feeling they hadn’t been entertained enough with such a short show.

Part of the reason things went so quick was because they ran lots of preliminary events before the advertised starting time. They had an ugly truck contest, ATV races, a demo-cross, best appearing this, ugliest that, etc… How does this tie in to local short tracking? One word…Bandeleros! Run them before the starting time of the real show. That way the track gets the benefit of having them on site, and the paying fans don’t have to put up with them.

Chuck Rush and the Crash-A-Rama boys put on a heck of a good race that the audience loved. They ran a very destructive trailer race. All the entries put some work into the presentation of their trailers too. There were motorcycles on trailers, living rooms, stuffed dummys, a fake horse, you name it. Well, they tore things up for 10 laps and made a big mess. I heard a couple of the fans near me say things like "that was worth the price of a ticket right there!’ I’m extrapolating a bit, but that event makes me think racing is still a good product that the public would like, as long as we can keep it from being boring or predictable. I wish we would get back to figure 8 racing, I think that would win some fans back.

Driver accessability! I saw a neat idea that we should steal: lots of times the driver would climb out of his truck when he was done, especially after breaking or crashing, and would throw something to the crowd. It would be a team shirt, a hat or even the shirt that the driver was wearing. This would distract from the time that was required to move the disabled truck, and the fans loved it. The drivers would work them up, tease 'em a little, then climb in the stands and then hand the prize to someone. I know it would have to be different for us; after all no one feels like being all nice to the fans after they just crashed, but it was a good way to get the fans up close to the drivers withoug wasting time from the show. They worked hard at giving fans access before and after the show too.

Clearly there is a difference between organizing a weekly show versus an annual show. MJ had lots of sponsorship: Ford, Beef O-Brady’s, Advance Discount Auto Parts and Dairy Queen were prominently featured. (hint: these are firms in our area that are spending money on motorsports). They are doing something right…the Citrus Bowl holds 70,000 and it was 95% full. As best I could tell, everyone went home very happy.

This same organization does the Monster Jam Shows at Ocala Speedway, usually in May. And yes, they are excellent at what they do, and the crowds are always happy. In fact, the same trucks and people you saw at that show will most likely be at Ocala, so come and see it again!