When ESPN Came to Kalamazoo for the Monster Truck Challenge
Monster trucks ruled the world in the '80s and brought the car-crushing action to the Kalamazoo County Fairgrounds for an ESPN broadcast in 1989.
Henry Ford revolutionized the auto industry and made Michigan the car capital of the country. It only makes sense that monster trucks would be invented in the Motor City as well. Seventy thousand people packed the Pontiac Sliverdome in 1982 to see Bigfoot demolish two cars at the first-ever monster truck show. Later in the decade, the car crushers had their own racing series and were touring the country to the delight of fans everywhere.
A standing-room only crowd packed the grandstand at the Kalamazoo County Fairgrounds for a two-day event filmed and broadcast on ESPN in 1989. Take a look at the videos below and tell me if you remember the announcers Richard Leek or Army Armstrong. The pair anchored coverage of the Powertrax Monster Truck Series throughout the 1980s, until the series' sale to the United States Hot Rod Association brought new commentators to the track.
Some names that might be more familiar to fans are the trucks. The Carolina Crusher was the points leader when the trucks rolled into Kalamazoo, with the Equalizer making a run and Gravedigger was listed as "one to watch." Leek and Armstrong were impressed with the track built on Lake St, calling the Kalamazoo County Fairgrounds course "long, fast and dangerous." The timing at the end of the season makes every point important, so you can tell the competitors are focused and driven to win.
So, go ahead, take a few minutes and a trip back in time to 1989 when ESPN brought the monster trucks to Kalamazoo.
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