09 Jan 2020
Last year the iconic Hot Wheels brand ventured into the world of live entertainment by launching the ‘Hot Wheels Monster Trucks Live’ tour which visited stadiums and arenas across the US.
Now the show is coming across the Atlantic for its first-ever European tour, and it kicked off last weekend with a run of shows at Manchester Arena in the UK.
The UK is no stranger to monster truck shows; we’ve had the wildly successful Monster Jam stadium shows in Cardiff and Coventry, plus the not-so-successful trip to Manchester for the franchise last year that was met with a wave of fan discontent.
This time there wasn’t a disappointed face in sight, because despite the small size of Manchester Arena – a strange thing to say about the UK’s largest capacity indoor arena – Hot Wheels Monster Trucks Live managed to put on a massively entertaining production, one that captured the imagination of both the young and old in the crowd.
Six ground-shaking trucks took part, being put well and truly through the wringer in a non-stop five-element competition on an arena floor littered with scrap cars. Wheelies, donuts, long jump, holeshot racing, and the ever-popular freestyle made up the competition, with the best performing truck across each two-hour show being crowned the overall winner and being awarded the ‘Titan Cup’.
I attended the final show of Hot Wheels Monster Trucks Live’s two-day residency at the arena, with Hot Wheels’ own Demo Derby driven by Kreg Christensen and the legendary Bigfoot, driven by Darron Schnell, sharing the spoils.
Bigfoot took a convincing win in the wheelie competition before Demo Derby reigned supreme in the donut and long jump contests. In holeshot racing – where the first truck off the line was declared the winner – Bigfoot once again returned to the fore after a showdown between both of the front-running trucks. Bigfoot again took the top spot in the freestyle competition – an event where Demo Derby was sadly sidelined as a result of sway bar damage sustained earlier in the show.
Of course, as is the norm with shows like this the sport is only a tiny part of what is a largely entertainment-driven show, if you’ll pardon the pun. Aside from the monster truck action, there was a freestyle motocross demonstration, and a fire-breathing robot dinosaur called Megasaurus which easily tore apart an old Ford Focus. Yes, really.
While the Hot Wheels brand might suggest that the show is exclusively for kids, the thousands of beaming ‘big kids’ faces confirms otherwise. After the disappointment of the North West’s last monster truck show, it was great to see the faith of thousands restored in these giant, fire-breathing V8 behemoths. See, motorsport is fun!
Hot Wheels Monster Trucks Live’s European tour continues in Poland this weekend before heading to Denmark next week. The tour will conclude at the start of February with a return to the UK for shows at Resorts World Arena in Birmingham and the SSE Hydro in Glasgow.