Trucking mayhem: Bigfoot vs Sling Shot

A slice of Britain: Thousands gathered this weekend to watch monster vehicles burn rubber – and the crowd included one newly converted cyclist

The mob waited in near-frenzy: gathered yesterday afternoon under a brilliant Lancashire sky to see the "original conqueror" Bigfoot take on the "no fearing, no respecting" Sling Shot. The most surprising thing about all this was my own lather of anticipation. After all, these people were getting het up about, well, lorries. Big lorries.

My only previous experience of trucks was an unhappy hitch-hiking journey from London to Edinburgh that ended up as a 36-hour, sleep-deprived nightmare.

Thousands of men, women and children gasped when Bigfoot cleared four cars in his last jump to win the first round of Monster Mania at this year's Truckfest North-West. Not only did I gasp; I jumped up in delight and applauded. City-dwelling cyclists like me are not, it would seem, immune to the joys of burning rubber and huge, pulsating engines.

For truckers, truck chicks and truck kids, this weekend is truck heaven. More than 500 vehicles of all sizes enter competitions such as "show and shine" and "best owner-driver".

But the monster trucks are the royalty. The colossal beasts – often about five tons of gleaming metal, can shift their considerable mass from nought to 60 in just over five seconds. There are only eight in the UK, compared with 400 in the US where the phenomenon originated 25 years ago. UK fans must travel far and wide to watch the metal titans leap over and crush puny motor cars.

Nigel and Lisa Morris make a living from Bigfoot which they describe as the 17th descendant of the original monster truck built by the American Bob Chandler. Mr Morris built Bigfoot in 2003; its body is a 1971 F150 Ford but with crop-sprayer tyres which cost almost £9,000 for the set.

Mr Morris, 48, is a three-time European champion who started racing motorbikes at the age of eight. He and his wife, both self-confessed petrolheads, have done 33 shows this year. "My passion was always for two wheels, but as I got bigger, so did the vehicles and now I love nothing more than seeing faces in the crowd as I crush the cars," said Mr Morris. "Eight- to 80-year-olds, they all love it. There's too much doom and gloom in this world so I love being involved in something that makes people happy."

There are no female monster truckers in the UK but three or four really good ones in the US, according to Mrs Morris, who, wouldn't you know it, doesn't drive at all. The most famous is the scantily clad, former WWE wrestler Madusa, who can help pull in a crowd of 100,000 for a single race. I'm a little ashamed to say that even such testosterone-filled tales failed to curb my enthusiasm. Two hours from my eco-friendly, vegetarian life in London, I seemed to have morphed into someone else.

Truckfest UK is in its 27th year. The biggest of five annual truck shows takes place in Peterborough and attracts in excess of 110,000 fans. Sandwiched between Warrington and Wigan, yesterday's event at Haydock Park racecourse is the smallest of the five, but more than 20,000 were expected over the weekend.

What started out as a low-key opportunity to meet fellow truckers, spend time with the family and admire a few shiny trucks has turned into a massive business opportunity for the road haulage industry. Recovery truck manufacturers, tyre companies and mat makers are all here hoping for a sale. The family atmosphere has not been lost. Mercedes-Benz and Volvo are out in force, showing off their wagons to wide-eyed little boys and their dads who then happily walk across to the fun fair.

There are plenty of WAGs here, too. Some may have been dragged along but most are just as awestruck as their men. By mid-morning the beer and merriment are flowing freely, while the smell of barbecued meat gets stronger. There is not a falafel in sight. This is no place for vegetarians: by the time I leave I am famished.

But it is an event for families. The majority of the 500 truckers here for the weekend have brought theirs along. Most are sleeping in their wagons, so-called "trampers" for the weekend. The lucky ones with corporate hospitality have tents provided by their employers.

Previous Truckfests can boast Take That and Boyzone as special guests. This year's celebrities include Rick Yemm, star of the cult series Ice Road Truckers, which began its third series on Five last week. Sporting a blue Mohican, multiple piercings and tattoos, he admits to feeling a little weary of his new-found fame. You can see why: I'd never heard of him before but four families approach him for a photo in the space of five minutes. "I feel sorry for the British truckers," says Yemm. "The driving legislation here is unbelievable. Me, I'm not really into following rules. We can drive for 13 hours without stopping."

Another attraction is Sally "Traffic" Boazman. Truckers love her and she loves them back. As Radio 2's traffic presenter for the past 10 years, she has relied on the drivers calling in with updates. "If one of my regulars calls in to say the M6 is jammed, I don't need to wait for the police report; they're always accurate. That's why I like to come and say thanks."

There is a genuine feeling of inclusiveness and fun; "a good day out" which I enjoy as much as any of the diehard fans. After all these years, I find that I'm actually an environmentally aware, vegetarian, bicycle-riding, egalitarian trucker chick. Who would have thought it?

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Arts and Entertainment
TV The follow-up documentary that has got locals worried
Arts and Entertainment
Eminem's daughter Hailie has graduated from high school
music
Arts and Entertainment
Original Netflix series such as Orange Is The New Black are to benefit from a 'substantial' increase in investment
TVHoax announcement had caused outrage
Life and Style
Swimsuit, £245, by Agent Provocateur
fashion

Diving in at the deep end is no excuse for shirking the style stakes

News
One Direction star Harry Styles who says he has no plans to follow his pal Cara Delevingne down the catwalk.
peopleManagement confirms rumours singer is going it alone are false
Voices
Mrs Brown's Boy: D'Movie has been a huge commercial success
voicesWhen it comes to national stereotyping, the Irish know it can pay to play up to outsiders' expectations, says DJ Taylor
Arts and Entertainment
Curtain calls: Madani Younis
theatreMadani Younis wants the neighbourhood to follow his work as closely as his audiences do
Arts and Entertainment
'Deep Breath' is Peter Capaldi's first full-length adventure as the twelfth Doctor
TVFirst episode of new series has ended up on the internet
Life and Style
Douglas McMaster says the food industry is ‘traumatised’
food + drinkSilo in Brighton will have just six staple dishes on the menu every day, including one meat option, one fish, one vegan, and one 'wild card'
Sport
Mario Balotelli, Divock Origi, Loic Remy, Wilfried Bony and Karim Benzema
transfersBony, Benzema and the other transfer targets
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Web Developer (C#, ASP.NET, AJAX, JavaScript, MVC, HTML)

£40000 - £45000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: Web Developer ...

C# R&D .NET Developer-Algorithms, WCF, WPF, Agile, ASP.NET,MVC

£50000 - £67000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: C# R&D .NE...

C# Developer (Web, HTML5, CSS3, ASP.NET, JS, Visual Studios)

£40000 - £50000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: C# Developer (...

C# Developer (ASP.NET, F#, SQL, MVC, Bootstrap, JavaScript)

£55000 - £65000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: C# Developer (...

Day In a Page

Iraq crisis: How Saudi Arabia helped Isis take over the north of the country

How Saudi Arabia helped Isis take over northern Iraq

A speech by an ex-MI6 boss hints at a plan going back over a decade. In some areas, being Shia is akin to being a Jew in Nazi Germany, says Patrick Cockburn
The evolution of Andy Serkis: First Gollum, then King Kong - now the actor is swinging through the trees in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes

The evolution of Andy Serkis

First Gollum, then King Kong - now the actor is swinging through the trees in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
You thought 'Benefits Street' was controversial: Follow-up documentary 'Immigrant Street' has got locals worried

You thought 'Benefits Street' was controversial...

Follow-up documentary 'Immigrant Street' has got locals worried
Refugee children from Central America let down by Washington's high ideals

Refugee children let down by Washington's high ideals

Democrats and Republicans refuse to set aside their differences to cope with the influx of desperate Central Americas, says Rupert Cornwell
Children's books are too white, says Laureate

Children's books are too white, says Laureate

Malorie Blackman appeals for a better ethnic mix of authors and characters and the illustrator Quentin Blake comes to the rescue
Blackest is the new black: Scientists have developed a material so dark that you can't see it...

Blackest is the new black

Scientists have developed a material so dark that you can't see it...
Matthew Barzun: America's diplomatic dude

Matthew Barzun: America's diplomatic dude

The US Ambassador to London holds 'jeans and beer' gigs at his official residence – it's all part of the job, he tells Chris Green
Meet the Quantified Selfers: From heart rates to happiness, there is little this fast-growing, self-tracking community won't monitor

Meet the 'Quantified Selfers'

From heart rates to happiness, there is little this fast-growing, self-tracking community won't monitor
Madani Younis: Five-star reviews are just the opening act for British theatre's first non-white artistic director

Five-star reviews are just the opening act for British theatre's first non-white artistic director

Madani Younis wants the neighbourhood to follow his work as closely as his audiences do
Mrs Brown and her boys: are they having a laugh?

Mrs Brown and her boys: are they having a laugh?

When it comes to national stereotyping, the Irish – among others – know it can pay to play up to outsiders' expectations, says DJ Taylor
Gavin Maxwell's bitter legacy: Was the otter man the wildlife champion he appeared to be?

Otter man Gavin Maxwell's bitter legacy

The aristocrat's eccentric devotion to his pets inspired a generation. But our greatest living nature writer believes his legacy has been quite toxic
Joanna Rowsell: The World Champion cyclist on breaking her collarbone, shattering her teeth - and dealing with alopecia

Joanna Rowsell: 'I wear my wig to look normal'

The World Champion cyclist on breaking her collarbone, shattering her teeth - and dealing with alopecia
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef gives raw ingredients a lift with his quick marinades

Bill Granger's quick and delicious marinades

Our chef's marinades are great for weekend barbecuing, but are also a delicious way of injecting flavour into, and breaking the monotony of, weekday meals
Germany vs Argentina World Cup 2014 preview: Why Brazilians don't love their neighbours Argentina any more

Anyone but Argentina – why Brazilians don’t love their neighbours any more

The hosts will be supporting Germany in today's World Cup final, reports Alex Bellos
The Open 2014: Time again to ask that major question - can Lee Westwood win at last?

The Open 2014

Time again to ask that major question - can Lee Westwood win at last?