The world's premier monster truck series, Monster Jam, is weighing in with more than 100,000 pounds of super-charged engine power for its annual hometown appearance this weekend at the Allstate Arena in Rosemont, Ill.
Billed as the most futuristic machine ever to hit the Monster Jam circuit, New Earth AuthoritySM, a.k.a. N.E.A. Police is one of the shiny new anticipated four-wheel stars of this weekend's smash-ups in the spotlight.
Unveiled just a few weeks prior to its arrival here, the chrome-plated New Earth Authority, driven by police officer Norm Miller already has a reputation "commanding order, seeking out and destroying those who stand in the way of peace."
"It's all in in fun, but like any racing event, the competition is very real once you're at the starting line," said Miller, during an interview Monday.
Produced by Aurora, Ill.-based Feld Motor Sports, Monster Jam events attract more than 4 million fans annually at the most prestigious arenas and stadiums throughout the world. Monster Jam trucks are custom-designed machines that average 12 feet tall by 12 feet wide, sit atop 66-inch-tall tires and weigh a minimum of 10,000 pounds. Built for short, high-powered bursts of speed, Monster Jam trucks generate 1,500 to 2,000 horsepower and are capable of speeds of up to 100 miles per hour. They can fly up to 125 to 130 feet (a distance greater than 14 cars side by side) and up to 35 feet in the air.
After 24 years working in the Monster Truck arena, Miller, whose "other career" is working as a police lieutenant in Warren, Ore., said he works 16 weekends a year doing Monster Jam truck events.
"The question I get the most from fans is: 'Are these trucks hard to drive?' " Miller said.
"And the answer is they are just another form of racing vehicle, only much bigger."
Miller said one of his favorite parts of any Monster Jam event is to participate in the "Pit Party," which is the pre-show gathering meet and greet allowing fans of every age to get a close look at the machines and to talk with the drivers.
Miller said among the field of 10 Monster Jam trucks competing at this year's event will be a record-setting five World Champions, including the sport's marquee machine, the best known monster truck of all time: Grave Digger, driven this time by versatile veteran Carl Van Horn.
This weekend's event, which kicks off with shows Friday and runs until Sunday, also stars the Monster Jam truck that many have called "the fastest machine in the sport," six-time World Racing Champion Max-DSM, driven by Neil Elliot.
In a nod to her "other" celebrity appeal, the woman tagged as "The Queen of Carnage," former WCW and WWF star Madusa, also returns to Rosemont after a multi-year absence in the only truck in the history of Monster Jam to be named after its driver.
Madusa, also known as "the First Lady of Monster Jam," was the first woman to win a Monster Jam World Finals, claiming the World Freestyle title in 2004 and, in a rarely duplicated feat, the World Racing championship the very next year.
The two remaining World Champions on the roster are the wildly popular "crazy bull," El Toro Loco with driver Chuck Werner of Paxton, Ill., and 2011 World Freestyle champion Avenger, driven by "Mr. Excitement" Jim Koehler.
Also making their Chicago-area debut are the Stark Industries-inspired Iron Man, driven by Lee O'Donnell and cult favorite Metal Mulisha, driven by former off-road star and rising Monster Jam driver Todd LeDuc. Rounding out the line-up are Monster Jam's 2013 "Fans Choice," the unmistakable and hauntingly hard-core Zombie, driven by Sean Duhon, and the aptly named Wrecking Crew, driven by Steve Koehler.