Monster trucks. Big. Noisy. Impossible to resist.

Fans of monster trucks revel in the muscular mayhem

By Jacques Von Lunen, Columbian staff writer

Published:

 

If you go Sunday

• What: Clark County Fair.

• Hours Sunday: 10 a.m. to 10 p.m.

• Where: 17402 N.E. Delfel Road.

• Admission: Adults, $10; seniors 62 and older, $8; kids 7-12, $7; kids 6 and younger, free.

Parking, $6; C-Tran shuttle, $2 round-trip from area park-and-ride lots; children 6 and younger ride free. $1 discount on admission with a bus fare stub.

• Carnival: Opens at noon; unlimited rides for $30.

• Barns: Close early Sunday; animals start to leave at 5 p.m.

• 99.5 The Wolf Grandstands: Monster trucks, 2 and 6:30 p.m.

• Other highlights: Fair court speeches, 2 p.m.; coronation, 8 p.m.

• Pets: Not permitted, except for personal service animals or those animals on exhibition or in competition.

• More information:http://clarkcofair.com or 360-397-6180.

• Online: View The Columbian’s mobile website for the Clark County Fair at: http://columbian.com/fair-mobile.

photoBob Miller cracked a vertebra in his back once when his truck landed awkwardly after a jump, but he has no intention of retiring from his late-life driving career.
photoBob Miller's truck is a Toyota chassis powered by a 383-cubic-inch Chevrolet V-8.

See more photos from the fair at columbian.com/news/clark-county-fair.

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or submit them at columbian.com/newstip.

Pigs squealed, loudspeakers blared and horses whinnied on the last weekend of the Clark County Fair.

Then a noise much louder than the usual din of the fair tore across the grounds Saturday afternoon. It sounded like a herd of elephants.

Really, really angry elephants. On steroids.

The monster trucks had arrived at the fair and packed the grandstands with spectators, who cherished the earsplitting noise and plumes of dust. For more than an hour, the crowd cheered the humongous vehicles as they jumped, spun and crushed.

Everything about these trucks is larger than life. The tires are as tall as a man. Their unmuffled V-8 engines would drown out a low-flying fighter jet. They're so high off the ground that a child could walk under them.

The trucks have steering mechanisms on their front and rear axles, allowing them to spin in place and drive nearly sideways, which makes their movements crab-like. If crabs were the size of sheds.

The crowd had come for a spectacle, and the monsters delivered. They drew loud applause when 10,000 pounds of steel became airborne over the earthen ramps. The large engines' torque lifting up the front end for a wheelie also was met with cheers.

The noisy display drew some people from across the river.

Ken Kristen made the drive from Portland with his two kids on Friday night to see the Tuff Trucks, another display of vehicular mayhem. When the Kristens saw that the big trucks would come out on Saturday, they knew they had to come back for seconds.

"It's an adrenaline rush," Kristen said. "It's the thrill of the loud noise and the excitement of them potentially rolling over."

No truck rolled on Saturday, but one landed on its side on Friday, Kristen said.

At least one driver -- the oldest on the track -- performed both nights.

Bob Miller, 76, piloted a "mini-monster" around the dusty course by the grandstands. His truck is built on a Toyota chassis, but outfitted with a 383-cubic-inch V-8 engine from a Chevrolet truck and special axles.

Miller sits atop the engine, strapped into a metal bucket seat in the center of the cab. The inside of the truck is bare metal, save for a few gauges that display engine speed and oil pressure.

Miller's son, Glen, who's been racing trucks for 25 years, built the mutant Toyota for his old man about 10 years ago. Miller senior had just retired from his construction job and took junior's truck for a spin because "it looked like fun," the now un-retiree said with a big grin.

It is fun, he soon found out. Jumping over -- and on top of -- junk cars is his favorite part, Bob Miller said.

"It's like you're in an airplane," he said.

Father, son, their wives and kids travel throughout the Northwest on weekends to stir up dust at fairs and other events. Bob Miller has no plans to retire from this job.

"As long as I can crawl in the truck," was his estimate of how long this career would last.

And that's just fine by the Kristen family from Portland. They'd spotted the septuagenarian Friday night and looked out for his orange truck again on Saturday. They're fans of the V-8 monsters, and of the Clark County Fair.

"It's the No. 1 fair, as far as we're concerned," Ken Kristen said, while his children nodded in agreement. "It's because of the kindness of the people."

And the mean trucks.

Jacques Von Lunen: 360-735-4515; http://twitter.com/col_schools; jacques.vonlunen@columbian.com.