At a recent Monster Jam event at the Prudential Center in Newark, as shark-finned and dog-eared and zombie-limbed monster trucks careened around a stadium floor caked in doughy, cinnamon-brown dirt, I remembered the first pseudo-sentence I ever spoke: “Big truck go by.” Gaggles of young children wiggled around the stands, their mouths agape and their ears covered by muffs or a parent’s palms.
Big trucks were going by, loudly.
They also went up into the air. They crashed back into earth recently dug out of a storage facility near MetLife Stadium. They bounced aloft again — that is, if they were lucky enough to land on their 66-inch tires and not on their roofs.
But before they did any of that, they stood quite still, posed around the space like sleeping beasts for a popular appetizer event called the Pit Party, which, for about $40 a head, granted attendees access to the stadium floor for an hour and a half that morning. There, fans lined up to meet drivers like Weston Anderson, the 21-year-old who operates the 37th edition of Grave Digger, the tour’s most famous truck.
Tall, blond and scruffy, Mr. Anderson hails from a monster truck dynasty out of Kill Devil Hills, N.C. His father, Dennis Anderson, built the original Grave Digger in 1982, and two of his siblings drive different iterations of the ghoulish, purple-and-green behemoth on other Monster Jam tours, while another competes in a spinoff truck.
“It’s like driving on a marshmallow,” Mr. Anderson said of the squishy Prudential Center dirt. “Some trucks will hike up, flip over. Some won’t.”