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?

John Travolta is a qualified airline captain and employed the pilot with his company, Alto
people'That was the lowest I’d ever felt'
Life and Style
healthIt isn’t greasy. It doesn’t smell. And moreover, it costs nothing
Jonas Gutierrez (r) competes with Yaya Toure (l)

Newcastle winger is in Argentina having chemotherapy

Arts and Entertainment
Blossoming love: Colin Firth as Stanley and Emma Stone as Sophie, in 'Magic in the Moonlight'

Actors star in Woody Allen's 'Magic in the Moonlight'

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
peopleThe Times of India said actress should treat it as a 'compliment'

Watch this commuter wage a one-man war against the Circle Line
We are phenomenally good at recognising faces; the study showed that humans have been selected to be unique and easily recognisable

Human faces unique 'because we don't recognise each other by smell'

Arts and Entertainment
You've been framed: Henri Matisse's colourful cut-outs at Tate Modern
artWhat makes a smash-hit art show?
Home body: Badger stays safe indoors
lifeShould we feel guilty about keeping cats inside?
A male driver reverses his Vauxhall Astra from a tow truck

Man's attempt to avoid being impounded heavily criticised

Arts and Entertainment
US pop diva Jennifer Lopez sang “Happy Birthday” to Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedow, president of Turkmenistan
musicCorporate gigs become key source of musicians' income
Arts and Entertainment
While many films were released, few managed to match the success of James Bond blockbuster 'Skyfall'
filmsDaniel Craig believed to be donning skis as 007 for first time
The Guildhall School of Music and Drama is to offer a BA degree in Performance and Creative Enterprise

Arts and Entertainment
Emma Thompson and Bryn Terfel are bringing Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street to the London Coliseum

Returning to the stage after 20 years makes actress feel 'nauseous'

Arts and Entertainment
Pulp-fiction lover: Jarvis Cocker
booksJarvis Cocker on Richard Brautigan
Arts and Entertainment
Robin Thicke and Pharell Williams in the video of the song, which has been accused of justifying rape
music...and he had 'almost no part' in writing it
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

March On Cancer™ - Local Marketing and Promotions Volunteer

This is an unpaid voluntary role.: Cancer Research UK: We need motivational vo...

SEN Coordinator + Teacher

£1 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: Job Purpose To work closely with the he...

Maths Teacher - Evening session

Negotiable: Randstad Education Birmingham: I am looking for a qualified experi...

Teaching Assistants

£50 - £85 per day: Randstad Education Preston: Rapidly developing and growing ...

Day In a Page

Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

The Imitation Game, film review
England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week