Monster mash

CNJ staff photo: Liliana Castillo Charles Benz launches over smashed cars during the side-by-side race on Saturday during the Monster Truck rally at the Curry County Fairgrounds Mounted Patrol Arena.

By Eric Butler: Freedom New Mexico Correspondent

Monster truck shows are something new for many Clovis residents. But many were introduced to this form of entertainment through the Steel Thunder Monster Truck Tour Friday and Saturday nights at the Curry County Mounted Patrol Arena.

Some spectators even got to ride in something called “Sergeant Smash,” a 15-foot high bus-like passenger vehicle propped up on radically enlarged tires, before the show on Saturday.

“It was awesome. It was like 50 feet high,” said Clovis resident Jennifer Diomade with exaggerated excitement.

“It was like a roller-coaster ride,” chimed in daughter Samantha Perales.

The show featured four monster trucks and four motorcyles as the main vehicles of interest.

There were four other cars. Those were the hapless wrecks that served as merely a rough stretch of road and were stomped into the soft dirt by the monster trucks.

The Steel Thunder tour is one of several sanctioned by the American Monster Truck Association. Last year, the tour made its way to 26 cities in the United States as well as visiting Puerto Rico and Brazil.

One of the dirt bike riders who performed on Saturday was Clovis High student Hunter Edwards. A senior who plans on graduating this December, the 18-year-old Edwards hoped to latch on with the tour’s next stop in Las Cruces next weekend.

“Some of my teacher’s know what I do. I’ve probably been riding pro for maybe the last seven months,” Edwards said. “We’ve been all over. It’s been a really good experience.”

The Clovis rider said he first raced on a dirt bike, not nearly the size of his current one, back when he was six.

His background and local residency, along with his skills, allowed him to find a spot in this weekend’s show.

“They asked me a few questions like, ‘What kind of tricks can you do?’” he said. “I’ve got a few tricks in my pocket right now.”

Woody Zaenglein of Phoenix said that the motorcycle tricks have proved to be an element of the show that is increasing in popularity. Zaenglein was responsible for setting up the track for the dirt bike riders – which included himself.

“As of a couple of years ago, the most popular part was the monster trucks,” Zaenglein said. “We still have the monster truck crowd, but they’re really starting to go for the motocross. They love to see the tricks and the daredevil stunts.”

Though wearing a spiky mohawk as his hairstyle, the 30-year-old Zaenglein admitted that the younger riders in the show were starting to tease him about his age.

“They don’t call me Woody anymore,” he said. “Now, they’re starting to call me Elwood.”