LIMA — The O’Reilly Auto Parts 4-Wheel Jamboree is underway at the Allen County Fairgrounds. It’s the first stop for the monster truck drivers in the three-city jamboree.
The event started Friday and wraps up Sunday.
It takes a special kind of crazy to drive these mean machines.
Mike Vaters, the driver of Overkill Evolution, has been involved professionally since 2012.
He credits his father for getting him up inside the monster truck.
“My father’s been doing it for 38 years. My mom actually drove through the ’90s so it’s just been kind of in my blood, their blood. I did dirt bikes for nine years professionally and it got too dangerous and I got too scared so I jumped into the roll cage and it’s just been a better seat for me,” said Vaters.
Mat Dishman has been behind the wheel of Raminator since 2010.
“Just growing up I was always taking something apart, putting it back together. I always had a passion for the four-wheel drive off-road world. I got into it in high school when my brother was working for a team and owned his own truck and then once he started with his team, I was the farm kid that didn’t really have nothing to do other than watching the corn grow so I started hanging out with the race team and just kind of never left,” said Dishman.
The prospect of driving one of these big trucks can be quite a thrill.
“Driving one of our monster trucks, the Raminator-Rammunition you get the best of both world. When you’re sitting at the starting line you’re driving basically a top-fuel dragster and an off-road truck at the same time. You got 36 inches of suspension travel and then right six inches behind your head you got a 2000 horse Hemi engine sitting,” said Dishman.
“It’s a lot of power. It can be intimidating at first but once you get used to it it’s just amazing. I really can’t relate it to anything. I’ve jumped out of airplanes. I’ve done freestyle street bikes. It’s just really the most ultimate adrenalin rush you can really experience,” said Vaters.
Drivers and monster truck fans make a pilgrimage to Lima every year to witness these bigger-than-life machines move around the infield at the grandstand.
“This jamboree is 34 years old. It’s been in Lima for I want to say 30 of those years but we just keep coming back because the facilities are great, the city is great, the community is great everyone kind of embraces us and welcomes us with open arms. When you bring thousands of huge lifted trucks and diesel trucks and rowdy folks into town some towns are kind of like no no, but Lima embraces it,” said Emily Boden, marketing manager of Bonnier Events.
The event brings in lots of money for local hotels and restaurants.
“I think we’re right about six million dollars is the economic impact we have on this town right now,” said Boden.
Reach Sam Shriver at 567-242-0409.