SCHERERVILLE | Matteau Isbill had July 13th circled on his calendar the moment that the 2013 Monster Truck Throwdown schedule came out earlier this year.
The Whiting native is in his first year of serving as the Monster Truck announcer and Isbill guided a packed house at the Illiana Motor Speedway through an exciting evening of monster truck racing Saturday.
While the program featured plenty of big moments for the crowd, the biggest thrill came from Isbill as he got to work in front of his family and friends on a big stage.
"I've been an announcer for five years and nothing beats being able to do this five miles from my home," Isbill said during the pre-race pit party. "This is such a big adrenaline rush for me right now."
Isbill spent much of the evening promoting the different trucks in the program and giving fans the chance to ride in a monster truck. Adults and kids alike wore huge smiles as they ended their ride on Massive Machine.
"I love going around and doing the donuts," Emily Steffan, 6, of DeMotte, said. "That was fun!"
Emily and her family attended the race and it was an ode to childhood for father J.T. Steffan.
"I haven't been to something like this in a long time," Steffan said. "I remember seeing when (famous Monster Truck) 'GraveDigger' was around. This is really something else."
As soon as Emily got off the Massive Machine, she grabbed her pink racing flag and ran toward Samson, the monster truck driven by Allison Patrick, the daughter of famed racer and truck builder Dan Patrick.
Allison was the only female driver at Illiana on Saturday and there were plenty of young girls waiting in line for an autograph.
"I tell all the girls to follow their dreams," Patrick said. "The sport has evolved so much. People look at me and don't believe I do this. In my spare time, I'm still an ICU nurse."
Patrick took over as the full-time driver of Samson in 2012, a role that seemed destined for from the same age as many of the girls seeking autographs.
"We've had this truck since I was 3 and I've never known anything but being out on the road," Patrick said. "Things changed drastically when I started racing. I still get so nervous before an event to the point that I might (lose it). Then I get strapped in and I make that first big hit. I chill out then and relax. This is where I'm supposed to be."