Monster Jam 2015 Rides Into Town
By Shout Omaha Staff
It’s that time of year again when engines are roaring and the dirt is flying as monster truck tires burn rubber across the convention center floor. That’s right, Monster Jam 2015 ascends on the Mid-America Center January 2-4. To get an idea of what it’s like to be a monster truck driver, New Orleans native and former cop Sean Duhon was more than willing to talk about all things monster trucks.
Monster Jam shows are held throughout the whole year with more shows during the winter than the summer, and travel around the United States and Canada. With international tour expansion, new fans of all ages are enjoying the shows across the world. Monster Jam fans are dedicated because they enjoy access to the performers and their amazing machines. Every fan attending a Monster Jam event is given the opportunity to meet the stars of the show during the unique “Pit Party” and autograph sessions. The drivers of Monster Jam stay at the “Pit Parties” until the last autograph is signed. Duhon is one of them. Duhon has always been fascinated with dirt bikes, motorsports and, well, dirt.
“It’s every kid’s dream,” Duhon says with his thick Louisiana accent. “I’ve been racing since I was a kid—dirt bikes, dirt track racing and we still drag race today by the house when I’m not racing monster trucks. I’d watch it on T.V. and every kid likes to get dirty, at least every little boy. So watching these things on T.V. and going to the Superdome to watch them live, I always wanted to drive one. I always told my parents, ‘Oh I’m going to drive a monster truck one day.’ I would always get the same thing. My parents just wanted to me to be happy.”
After high school, Duhon wasn’t quite ready for the monster truck racing; instead he opted for a stint with the Jefferson Parish police department.
“There’s a lot of voodoo and other crazy things happening around New Orleans, which is why when they asked me to drive the zombie monster truck, I didn’t fight it,” he says. “I grew up around this stuff.”
Duhon isn’t joking. If you’ve ever been to New Orleans, or NOLA as it’s affectionately called, you’ve seen the shrunken alligator heads, voodoo shops and above ground graves. And, of course, everybody’s heard of Bourbon Street.
“We’ve got some characters down here,” he confirms. “I only live ten minutes from Bourbon Street. I don’t deal with drunks too well. I don’t drink. I can go out and have a good time and not drink. I guess dealing with drunks is annoying, but I can handle it. It does get obnoxious. After so many years of witnessing Mardi Gras, it gets old, but Bourbon Street is fun to visit.”
After brining up the infamous “Hand Grenade” drink at The Tropical Isle, which he said was “the most sickening drink on Bourbon Street,” we spoke about how he ended up dressing like a zombie to get behind the wheel of his monster truck.
“A couple years ago, Monster Jam put a poll up and asked what fans wanted to see as far as a Monster Truck so I guess the zombie thing is so huge nowadays; like Walking Dead and other shows like that,” he explains. “There are so many zombie things out there that a lot of fans voted for a zombie truck. That’s what the fans wanted. So I guess with me being from New Orleans, they asked if I wanted to drive the zombie truck. I jumped on it in a second.”
The photos from the 2013 Monster Jam show Duhon in full zombie gear; he wears the black contacts and crazy costumes. He truly looks like the walking dead. Overall, fans of Monster Jam are there to see one thing.
“Everybody likes destruction and that’s what people go to see,” he says. “Coming from the sheriff’s office, we always like to protect and serve. That goes along with making people happy so to make somebody happy and to smile, that’s what I’m in to. As long as our fans are having fun, I’m having fun. To get behind the wheel of that thing is amazing.”
Fortunately Monster Jam is huge on safety so Duhon won’t be really looking like a zombie any time soon.
“Fans come first. Safety is our priority,” he says. “We have so many safety features on that truck. Anything can happen, but inside the truck, a roll bar, padding and cages surround me. My seat is specifically made for me. Nobody else can get in my seat. They measured me for it. I have arm supports, head supports; I wear a helmet—same like NASCAR. We actually have a RII, which is a remote ignition interrupter and it will kill the truck up to a mile away. That way, if something goes crazy and I can’t control the truck, somebody on the sidelines can hit a remote and kill it. As far as danger, I’m not going to say there’s no danger there, but it’s very slim.”
Monster Jam 2015 is four days of non-stop racing action. It, of course, features Duhon and countless other Monster Jam Drivers. It’s something Duhon can’t wait to do. He lives and breathes monster truck racing.
“I’ve been doing this for about 9 years now,” he says. “Look at Dennis Anderson. He’s been doing it for over 30 years. There’s no average life span of a driver. I’d love to do it for as long as I can. As long as I can keep the fans happy then that’s what I’m going to do.
“Monster Jam is like a huge family and that’s what I like about it,” he adds. “We all hang out after the show and before the show. We go out there and have a good time to put on a great show.”