Rodeo Arena Can Handle Monster Trucks, Promoter Says

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Engines roar to deafening decibels. Wheels spin out of control. Mud flies, trucks roll -- the crowd cheers.

It's all part of the Monster Truck Challenge Tour --featuring "Stone Cold" Steve Austin's '98 Chevy monster -- scheduled to blast off at the Payson Rodeo Grounds Saturday, July 31.

The question on everyone's mind: "How are they going to race monster trucks in that tiny arena?"

"We don't really need a lot of space," said Joe Maderazzo, media representative for International Promotions Inc. of Gilbert. "We've done one of these shows at the Holbrook arena, and that was real small."

IPI produces shows all over the country, Maderazzo said, and can customize its crowd-pleasing, car-crushing events to fit just about any venue.

"First, the trucks come out in freestyle," he said. "They come out and put on a little show, jumpin' jumps, crushin' cars, that kind of thing."

After the opening procession, the trucks come back out for races, lined up side-by-side for individual heats.

"We narrow those trucks down to the winner," Maderazzo said. "More than likely it will be Stone Cold, although Taurus gives a run for his money. Amzoil's Taurus is a three-time world champion, so it will be interesting to see."

Another celebrated challenger is the McGruff crime truck. McGruff just made it into the Guinness Book of World Records as the highest-flying monster truck in the world.

Vorian --an average-looking monster jet car --will also make an appearance in the arena. The monster menace will encourage the audience to chant its name, and as the screams reach a fevered pitch, the car will slowly transform into a two-story talking robot.

"It's got some pyrotechnics," Maderazzo said. "It shoots fire out of one arm, and rockets out of the other. It's pretty interesting, and really gets the kids excited."

As if the testosterone level wasn't already high enough, the Truck Challenge also features a rollover contest, in which a handful of loony locals roll their own vehicles at a chance to win the $300 top prize.

While the contract has not yet been finalized, Parks and Recreation Director Bill Schwind said the show is tentatively scheduled to start at 8 p.m.

"The promoter has provided a $2 million insurance policy, in case anything gets damaged," Schwind said. "They also come in early Friday to set up the arena, do the show Saturday, and Sunday, come back to restore the arena to the condition it was in before the show."

As for the noise produced by the mega-machines, one resident of the adjacent Trailwood subdivision said she hoped her neighbors would be tolerant.

"This town doesn't have enough events the way it is," said Melissa Petkoff. "This is only one night. I don't see why anyone would have a problem with it."

Admission to the Monster Truck Challenge is $11.50 in advance for adults, and $8.50 for children. At the door, admission is $2 more. Tickets are available at Safeway in Payson, or you can charge by phone by calling 1 (888) RACE-1999.

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