While the 1949 Chevy 3100 truck episodes of Fast N’ Loud introduced the Gas Monkey Garage Monster Jam truck to the television public when it crushed a Dodge Hellcat, Monster Jam and Gas Monkey Garage fans experienced a solid 2016 debut season all year long.
We caught up with Gas Monkey Garage Monster Jam Truck crew chief, Lindsey Hilgendorf, on how the offseason is going and what we can expect in the coming year.
- How’s the off-season been going? What are some of the things you’ve been doing to prepare for the upcoming season?
Our off season has been going very well. Once we got back from New Weston, OH in August we tore our Gas Monkey Monster Jam Truck back down and went through the driveline and all the mechanics to make sure nothing was broken. We’ll also go through and tune the motor before we take back off again. We’ll pull everything back apart and shine it up to get it ready for the start of the season.
- Last year was your debut year with Gas Monkey Garage and you ran an abbreviated schedule – do you plan on running at more events for this upcoming season?
For a first year truck, we ran a lot of shows this past year. Most trucks run from January till April, we ran from January till August and covered several states, along with Canada. Our 2017 schedule will likely be jam packed with shows for a good portion of the year. We’re hoping that we get to compete in different venues and possibly take our Gas Monkey Garage Monster Jam truck international so we’re able to show off and compete in front of our fans overseas!
- How have the fans reacted to the Gas Monkey branded truck? Did they know Gas Monkey Garage and Richard Rawlings all throughout the country?
The fans have absolutely loved our Gas Monkey branded truck!! Richard Rawlings has a huge following all throughout the USA and Canada! It was so awesome to see the adults, along with all their kids, get excited to see our Monster Jam truck. They loved the fact it was Gas Monkey and also that it’s a muscle car, unlike most of the other truck bodies. A lot of our fans are gear heads so it was a perfect fit!
- As you said, last season’s truck was modeled after a 1970’s Dodge Muscle Car with a 540CI engine – any changes for the upcoming season?
As far as the looks and motor go, our Muscle car will look the same from the outside. The biggest change we’re working on are the shocks. We’ll tune the shocks differently this upcoming year to help the truck land better.
- What are your main responsibilities as crew chief?
Being the crew chief means I’m in charge of all aspects of our truck. I’m the main mechanic, meaning I work on the truck and fix anything and everything that breaks. I’m also in charge of making sure our trailer is 100% stocked at all times so that if we have a bad crash we’re able to get our truck back into the show. During the show I am on a headset with our driver, BJ (Johnson), and we talk back and forth about the track and how the truck is running.
We have to work as a team. There are times when BJ’s strapped in and he can’t see the track so I’ll tell him how the ramps look, how they’re making the trucks rebound, whether or not the track is slick or tacky, etc. He’s the one that drives the truck, so if he feels that anything could be broken or if the truck is having issues – he’s able to explain what’ll need to be fixed.
- How do you deal with all that carnage and bent metal week after week?
We work crazy long hours! As I said, our trailer is fully stocked to ensure we can replace and rebuild anything that’s broken during a show. So during the week, between shows, we work non-stop in order to fix and repair everything so we’re 100% ready to go for the next week’s show.
- BJ’s a veteran Monster Jam driver, how’d his 2016 season go from your perspective?
BJ has competed in Monster trucks for the last 16 years and he’s one of our seasoned drivers. He felt fortunate to drive the Gas Monkey Garage Monster Jam Truck in 2016. Our year started off trying to get all the bugs worked out of our brand new truck. As the year went on, we figured it out and BJ and the team ended up with a Racing championship from Salinas, CA and several first and second place qualifying times.
- Do you have a message for the Gas Monkey fans for the 2017 season?
We hope all of our fans are able to make it to our shows in 2017. Make sure to get your “pit passes” so you can get a close up look at the Gas Monkey Garage Monster Jam truck and grab a picture and autograph from BJ Johnson! Our 2017 season will be filmed and aired on Fox Sports 1 so we’ll be running extremely hard in order to take home some racing and freestyle wins to ensure our spot in the World Finals in Vegas! You can also follow us on Instagram (@gasmonkeymonstertruck) to see our progress.
Be on the lookout for the exact schedule for the 2017 Gas Monkey Garage Monster Jam Truck season in the coming weeks and more from Lindsey and BJ.