The drub-drub-drub of a primered '70s muscle car has joined the more common, but just as loud, boom-boom-boom of a lowered Lincoln sporting ground effects at the intersection by my house. Rarer in the custom-car world, the muscle car's call thumps "alpha male" as indiscriminately as the usual bass rattle and rumble. Yet even my Volvo-driving sensibilities can find something beautiful in that outdated gluttonous internal-combustion engine. More powerful than a stereo's bass response, this is the pulse of muscular precision, an extension of Western industrial thought processes as individualized, Americanized, and oversized as a Big Gulp.
A buddy raised in a small town explained the mechanics behind the engine's sound one day as we shared a six-pack. The gears were enlarged, he said, to get the maximum amount of power and so were barely catching at each rotation to keep the pistons firing. The car was on the verge of stalling at all times, like an athlete toned to peak performance pushing so hard that a sprain or strain could occur at any moment. Understanding that the owner had placed many hours and even more dollars into the vehicle to achieve what I had considered a clamor, I listened reverently as he ended the lesson with a Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance-like moral that even this city slicker could understand: "Someone found God in that car."
In that case Reunion Arena will become a revival for the ratchet-and-oil-pan set when it houses the Wrenchead.com Monster Jam Friday through Sunday. Monster-truck races, traditionally just displays of horsepower, technical prowess, huge tires, and shock absorption, have taken a cue from the success of professional wrestling and boosted the entertainment factor. Now there are big explosions, trash-talking rivalries worthy of WWF smack-downs, and trucks famous enough to have fan clubs. This weekend, Freestyle World Champion (and monster trucking's biggest star) Grave Digger faces the Carolina Crusher and Nitro Machine. Besides familiar side-by-side races over rows of cars, there will be quad racing (a 100-yard dash for the big wheels); a stunt show by "Death Wish" Dan Elders, whose nickname is "The Human Bomb"; and a pit party from 5:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. Saturday, where the audience members can inspect the fearsome vehicles and meet the drivers.
In a time when even churches are using tactics like rock videos to attract the young 'uns, it's hard to blame the U.S. Hot Rod Monster Trucks association for adding a little pizzazz to draw more than just devout mechanics. All in all, it's a lot of bang for the buck, and quite an epiphany for the Copenhagen crowd.
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