Joe Urie drives Zombie, on Feb. 22, 2020, in PPL Center. Zombie was one of eight monster trucks to compete in the Monster Jam Rally. (Laney Delaney/B&W Staff)

Eight drivers compete in Monster Jam rally

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Smoke, dirt and cheers stirred through the PPL Center in Allentown on Saturday night as spectators gathered for the Monster Jam Triple Threat Series, a monster truck rally featuring eight competing drivers.

Bernard Lyght sat behind the wheel for Alien Invasion, Armando Castro drove for El Toro Loco, Tyler Menninga for Grave Digger, Blake Granger for Max-D, Jack Brown for Megalodon, Aaron Basl for Monster Mutt, Kayla Blood for Soldier Fortune and Joe Urie drove for Zombie. 

Each event gave drivers the opportunity to earn up to eight points, and the driver who earned the most total points by the night’s end won. 

For this event, Grave Digger was the rally’s first-place finisher.

Each driver competed in trucks and in Speedsters, off-roading vehicles built to zip around tight obstacles.

The winner of the Speedster races was decided by which driver could earn the fastest time, but some events are more subjective, like the Two-Wheel Skills Challenge and freestyle competition.

In the Two-Wheel Skills Challenge, drivers have to perform a stunt that keeps two wheels in the air, and in freestyle, each driver has a limited amount of time to perform tricks and stunts. 

Spectators were able to decide the winner of these events via JudgesZone.com, a website where Monster Jam audiences can rate drivers’ performances on a scale of one to 10.

Charles Baldwin, ‘20, attended the rally after hearing about it from two friends who had gone last year. He is a long-time monster truck fan and remembers having a Grave Digger Hot Wheels toy as a kid.

“I had been to one (rally) in high school and loved it, so when I heard it was coming to the PPL Center, I jumped on it,” Baldwin said.

Allentown resident Joe Borman and Catasauqua resident John Shoemaker both came to the rally with their families. This Monster Jam was Borman’s first, but Shoemaker said he’d been about five times before.

Shoemaker said the first time he attended Monster Jam was in Baltimore.

“We went just on a whim on vacation and have just been addicted to them ever since,” he said. “The kids love it.”

Baldwin, Borman and Shoemaker all agreed that the highlight of the night was a backflip stunt pulled off by Grave Digger during the freestyle competition. 

After completing the backflip, Grave Digger almost flipped belly-up, but a quick spin maneuver by Menninga landed him back on four wheels. 

Even though Menninga stopped his freestyle run with time to spare, which other drivers used to include more tricks, the audience still judged his performance a 9.6 out of 10 the highest score across all the night’s events.

“(Grave Digger) is a badass,” said Borman. “He’s the only one that did a flip.”

The Monster Jam Triple Threat Series tour wraps up its time in Allentown on Sunday evening before heading to the Royal Farms Arena in Baltimore for its final shows of the season from Feb. 28 to March 1.

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