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Zombie monster truck dead certain to attract fans

| Wednesday, Feb. 13, 2013, 8:32 p.m.
'Zombie' monster truck, part of Monster Jam. Courtesy: Monster Jam
Sean Duhon, driver of the Zombie truck at Monster Jam. Credit: Monster Jam

If you're going to drive a Monster Truck, you might as well go all-out and get a real monster.

For monster truck driver Sean Duhon, the choice was positively a no-brainer.

“They asked, ‘Would you like to drive a zombie truck?' I was like, ‘Oh, yes, indeed. Why would I not want to do that?' It's 10,000 pounds, 1450 horsepower. It's a monster of a monster.”

The Monster Jam roars into the Consol Energy Center on Friday. (Guys, it's a day late for Valentine's Day, but I'm sure she won't mind ... right?)

The world of monster-truck racing doesn't change much from year-to-year, but there is an upstart vying with Gravedigger for the loudest cheers: Zombie. It's only been around for a few months, but has proved remarkably popular so far. That's likely to continue in the hometown of “Night of the Living Dead.”

Duhon, 36, from the New Orleans area, was actually ready to quit monster-truck driving only a short time ago. Then he ended up piloting the hottest new truck in years, and has no doubts about his decision.

“I stopped driving about two years ago, and was going to go back home to get a normal job,” Duhon says. “I went to the (Monster Jam) Finals in Las Vegas, and bought a ticket as a fan. I watched the crowd, and saw people's faces light up. I thought ‘This is crazy — what am I doing?' I hate to say the typical ‘I do it for the fans,' but I do.”

The Zombie truck was an idea actually suggested by fans.

“Advanced Auto Parts and Monster Jam put out a poll asking the fans, and they really wanted to see a zombie truck,” Duhon says. “Zombies are huge. It had nothing to do with us drivers, but it's great to go out there and drive the fans' choice of truck.”

Even so, the reception has surprised him.

“At first, I thought it might scare kids,” Duhon says. “But it (the popularity) really caught people off guard. The line (to see the truck) in Detroit wrapped around Ford Field.”

“I bought the (zombie) contacts, and my face is all made up like a zombie. My lines are just as long as Gravedigger's. I've been calling them the Zombie Nation now. They've invading every venue.”

On Thursday, fans will get a chance to see the Zombie truck for free at a “I Heart Zombie Val-Intestine's Day Party.” From 6 to 8 p.m. at Consol Energy Center, kids and adults can get zombie face-painting, enjoy free treats and play zombie-inspired Val-intestine's day games, as well as get an up-close look at the truck. Duhon will do a meet and greet in full zombie makeup.

Michael Machosky is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at mmachosky@tribweb.com or 412-320-7901.

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