Iron Man monster truck makes Pittsburgh debut at Consol
Though the next “Avengers” blockbuster won't be in theaters until next year, Iron Man is visiting Pittsburgh this weekend.
The annual Monster Jam spectacular stops by Consol Energy Center Friday, Saturday and Sunday and features the Steel City debut of Iron Man, the superhero-themed truck driven by Lee O'Donnell. Among the trucks scheduled to appear are Grave Digger, Monster Mutt, Razin' Kane, Ice Cream Man, Illuminator and Instigator.
While the Penguins are taking a break for the Winter Olympics in Sochi, the Consol center will be transformed into a dirt racetrack with a series of obstacles. Preparations get under way Thursday morning when 100 truckloads of dirt will be dumped onto the arena floor in advance of the racing and high-flying aerial displays.
O'Donnell, a New Jersey native, has been competing on the Monster Jam circuit since 1999, but didn't land his own full-time truck until Iron Man in 2010. For the first 11 years, O'Donnell was a substitute driver and won multiple Monster Jam events as a hired gun.
“I guess the biggest difference (being a full-time driver) is the stability of having my own truck,” O'Donnell said last week. “I have the same truck, crew chief, my set-up. All these things make it possible to be a successful Monster Jam driver.”
O'Donnell said his truck is “definitely a crowd favorite,” and that often provides him with additional support at the Monster Jam tour stops.
For the uninitiated, Monster Jam events are broken into two segments — racing and freestyle. In the former, competitors go head-to head in a breakneck lap around the dirt track before going airborne to cross the finish line. The contestants are whittled down, bracket style, until the final two trucks square off for the racing title.
In the latter, each truck gets a set amount of time to complete as many tricks, jumps and stunts as possible. Fan judges rank their performances and the highest cumulative score is freestyle champion.
“I'm a racer for sure,” O'Donnell said. “In a stadium you only get one shot at winning, where in an arena you have a few shots to get it done. An arena, to me it's more personal. The fans can see inside the trucks because they're so close to the action, and I think that's pretty special.”
With the average Monster Jam truck checking in at 12 feet high and 12 feet wide — and weighing 10,000 pounds — O'Donnell and his fellow drivers take their lives in their hands every time they hit the track. Safety is paramount on the Monster Jam circuit, but it also takes nerves of steel.
“It's funny, I watch some of the things other drivers do and think, ‘I would never do that,'” O'Donnell said. “But when you strap yourself in and put your helmet on, something changes in my personality. On top of all that, I hate losing!”
Evening shows are scheduled for Friday and Saturday at 7:30, with matinees Saturday and Sunday at 2. Tickets are $12 for kids and $25 for adults. For the Saturday and Sunday matinees, an extra $10 will gain you admission to the Party in the Pits. From 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. each day, pit partiers can step onto the track, collect autographs, take photos and explore the obstacles the drivers will encounter.
And if you can't wait till the weekend to get a Monster Jam fix, there's a free Superheroes & Sweethearts Valentine's Party Thursday from 6-8 p.m. The family-friendly event includes free treats, face painting, balloon artists and superhero-inspired Valentine's Day activities and crafts.
For every person who attends Thursday's party, Monster Jam will donate one ticket to the Pittsburgh-based charity Tickets for Kids.
RSVP for the party by visiting the event page on MonsterJam.com, or by showing up Thursday at the Trib Total Media gate entrance. Doors open at 5:45 p.m.
Jeffrey Sisk is an editor for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-664-9161 ext. 1952, or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Elizabeth Twp. scraps results of Civil Service test
- McKeesport city council OKs Tomovcsik to head fire dept.
- Experts offer Fourth of July safety tips
- Fast-moving storms strand Mon Valley motorists
- Replacement fire chief, safety issues to top McKeesport agenda
- Brewster picked for Smith’s seat on Senate Appropriations Committee
- Former Kennywood worker held for court on child porn charges
- McKeesport woman headed to trial on arson charge
- Elizabeth volunteer firefighters achieve certifications
- McKeesport school board hikes millage in new budget
- Fire destroys McKeesport garage