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Monster trucks roar into Sanpete

Sanpete cheers on ‘insane’ truck drivers as they crush cars

 

Robert Stevens

Managing editor

7/19/2018

Dragon Slayer, just one of the trucks that put on a big show in the Sanpete County Fairgrounds arena on Saturday during the Monster Truck Insanity Tour, goes flying through the air.

MANTI—Dozens of times every year, Kreg Christensen, monster truck builder and driver descends into madness. Last month he was hysterical, this month he was insane.

On Saturday night, Live a Little Productions put on the Monster Truck Insanity Tour at the county fairgrounds. Christensen’s Team KMC, with their trucks “Dragon Slayer” and “Wicked,” were on the front lines of the action.

Christensen, who is originally from Willard, Box Elder County, has been building and driving monster trucks for 26 years now. He says monster trucks are in his blood; three generations of his family are involved with the business—with four of his sons driving and a grandson leading the pit crew.

“I love what I do,” Christensen says.  “This is all I do. I fabricate and build trucks that go all over the world. I don’t get up in the morning and think ‘crap, I have to go to work.’”

They have performed in arenas like Dallas, Tampa and Anaheim, which had approximately 70,000 people watching the performances.  They also perform in other countries.

“There’s nothing better than performing in front of 70,000 people,” Christensen says. “But in these small venues, you’re up close and personal so I think they can relate a little better to you, because they can see you’re a normal man who puts his pants legs on one at a time just like them.”

Christensen got his start in mud racing, but he says after five or six years he hit the top of the class. At the time, monster trucks were getting really popular, so he bought one, tore it apart, and learned to build his own.

Now he has built well over a dozen trucks, for his own team and for other teams all over the world. Coming in at a cost of $200,000 to build and more than 1,500 horesepower, Christensen says he has 10 trucks in Australia, four in China, two in the UK, two in Mexico and three in Canada.

And that’s not counting the two trucks that performed in Manti on Saturday, Dragon Slayer (driven by Christensen) and Wicked (Driven by Team KCM driver “Aussie” Michael Platte).

The Monster Truck Insanity Tour show consisted of several different classes of exhibitions. The wheelie competition was where the trucks competed to see how long they can keep their front ends in the air. There were some some exhibition driving classes in smaller vehicles, such as side-by-sides, and then there was the freestyle competition.

“The freestyle separates the men from the boys,” Christensen says.  “It shows who is controlling their truck, and whose truck is

controlling them.”

Caden Dawson and Michael Stratte of Team KMC mount the monster tires on the monster truck “Wicked” before the Monster Truck Insanity Tour on Saturday. The show was the first official event held at the new Sanpete County Fairgrounds arena.

You can destroy a truck in one crazy performance, he says, but you have to strike a balance between showmanship and preserving them for the next week’s show. But Christensen has purposely designed his trucks to be easy to fix.

“I think they’re pretty much perfected, but you always change things here and there,” Christensen says. “The biggest thing is that I knew I was going to be the one working on these trucks so I wanted them to be able to be repaired easily. We can change a blown tranny in 14 minutes or less.”

In between shows and repairs, Christensen says he spends a lot of time washing the mud out of the crevices.

The show was the first official event in the new Sanpete County Fairgrounds arena.

Marti Fierbach of Ephraim was in attendance and commented at the show that she liked how the arena was open, as opposed to the enclosed arenas in larger cities.

“It’s nice that it doesn’t hold in the fumes,” she said. “And that it’s not as loud.”

Jake Putnam of Fountain Green was attending the show with his wife Jodi on their 17th wedding anniversary.

“I loved how much bigger it was,” Putnam said of the arena, “and how they arranged to have the rally set up in such a way that the temple was the back drop of the event.”

Tory McArthur said his family felt like the new arena was an improvement, but that the parking situation was still less than optimal.

Stephen Harr brought his family from Mt. Pleasant, where they live, to see the show, and was very optimistic about the new arena.

“I am loving the new fair grounds and arena,” Harr said. “The seating is comfortable and there is room to move. No matter what section you are seated in, you have a great view of the show. The improvements were much needed.”