Monster Trucks and their ilk are a family affair for Chelsea Kessler, CEO and founder of Motorsport Production Services. The company put on the Motor Mania event this year at the Oregon State Fair.
In 2020, Kessler took over the reins of the family business from her parents John and Sharlene Borba. She’s become one of the largest promotors of demolition derbies, tuff truck, and monster truck events in California, Oregon, and Washington.
It was somewhat organized chaos behind the scenes before the show on Saturday as drivers prepared their various rigs for entry into the course at the Oregon State Fairgrounds Pavilion. Rules were explained, numbers were drawn for entry times, and everything was double checked. Ear protection is a must as the deafening roar of the engines started.
Most of the drivers assemble the monster trucks on site from semi-trucks that come pre-loaded with chassis and tires. Some of the tires are over 66 inches in height. The drivers of monster trucks sit over 12 feet from the ground once they climb into the cab.
Monster trucks originated from modified stock pickup trucks, farm tractor tires, and sport utility vehicles and have evolved into purpose-built vehicles with a tube-frame chassis and fiberglass bodies rather than metal. They all still have 8-cylinder engines.
The “Tuff Trucks” event has its origins in Australia where teams, made up of a driver and navigator, attempt to complete a number of marked overland courses that have rocks, hills, and water obstacles. Teams lose points for a variety of errors, such as knocking down cones, going into reverse or using a winch. The sport has been modified to a single driver for the arena and an indoor course. Any vehicle can enter so long as it’s “tuff” enough to finish the course.
The show also had the “Quad Wars” which featured a pack of racers on “quads” or 4 wheeled ATV vehicles racing, doing wheelies, and taking the various jumps in the arena to the crowd’s delight.
The show ended with the big crowd pleaser- the “wolf pack” of monster trucks doing what they do best: freestyle events. Each driver put on a performance consisting of stunts such as awe-inspiring jumps, wheelies, and doughnuts that generated enough dust and dirt to leave any monster truck enthusiast happy.
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Laura Tesler has lived in Salem, Oregon for 20 years and is originally from Flint, MI. Laura has been an underwater photographer for 15 years, and is an avid scuba diver. Topside, she has been taking photographs since age 12, and currently works on assignment for the Salem Reporter, and full time purchasing land for fish and wildlife habitat in the Willamette Valley. Laura attended Oregon State University, and has traveled extensively all over the world and the United States.