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Monster Jam set to plow into Columbus

30 p.m. Jan. 6 and 2 p.m. and 7

Take an engine strong enough to power 14 economy cars and the body of a 1950s-style station wagon, add a little macabre edge and what do you get? A monster truck fondly known as Grave Digger.

Events part of the Advance Auto Parts Monster Jam are scheduled for Friday at 7:30 p.m. and Saturday at 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. at Nationwide Arena to ring in the New Year and celebrate Grave Digger’s 30th anniversary.

Monster Jam is a traveling motorsports expo. At each show, trucks compete in racing and freestyle events, among other competitions.

“It’s all about 10,000-pound trucks, with about 800 horsepower,” said Carl Van Horn, a Grave Digger driver.

Before the show, fans can get an up-close look at the vehicles competing at Party in the Pits, which includes an autograph session, among other activities. This year, three new versions of Grave Digger will also be on display. Each design stays true to the color palette of black, bright purple and neon green and the familiar Grim Reaper motif that has become the team’s signature.  

The original Grave Digger was built in 1981 by Dennis Anderson from discarded car parts from a junkyard. Grave Digger has since expanded into a team of trucks that tour simultaneously to compete in events. After 30 years and four Monster Jam World Finals wins, Grave Digger has become a crowd favorite.

“It’s really cool because Grave Digger is the most popular monster truck out (on the track). Whether I’m in Howland or Japan, the crowd gets a little louder,” Van Horn said.

Royal British Legion Industries, a group of builders from the United Kingdom, has been working on a project built entirely out of K’NEX construction toys in tribute to Grave Digger set to debut in early 2012. It is rumored to be a life-size Grave Digger truck, Van Horn said.

“A monster truck rally is something I’ve always wanted to go to,” said Alex Urban, a second-year in finance, political science and Chinese. “I think it is the epitome of American entertainment. It embodies everything that Americans desire: destruction, cars, mud and women.”

Ashanté Hill, a second-year in film studies, said he would check the show out if it were free.

“I think they’re lame, but I can see the appeal,” Hill said.

Tickets are available on Ticketmaster ranging from $25 and $52, though fees apply. Children’s tickets are $10. Party in the Pits tickets are $10 or can be obtained for free at participating Taco Bell locations.

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