When “Monster Jam: Rock The Dome” roars into the Tacoma Dome on Jan. 4, fans might notice that two of the 16 trucks tearing up the terrain will have the same driver. At the same time.
It’s not sleight of hand – just the twin driving team of Travis and Tyler Groth.
The identical twins, 29, grew up in Gig Harbor and now make their livings as monster truck owners and drivers.
Just about every weekend of the year, the brothers are somewhere in the western U.S. or Canada racing and jumping their trucks.
The Groths had a collection of Tonka trunks growing up, “And anything else you could build and modify or make it better than anybody else’s,” Travis said in a phone interview from the Cle Elum shop where the twins work on their trucks in between shows.
Four years ago the brothers were employed in construction in Federal Way when they went to a monster truck show in Puyallup. They had been fans since they were boys.
“I went up to a driver and started a conversation. I volunteered to help,” Travis recalled. “I worked on anybody’s truck who would let me.”
Since boyhood, the Groth brothers had worked on their collection of Jeeps and other family cars. But the twins wanted to be more than volunteer mechanics.
“I kept hearing the same thing: If you want to drive one you have to build your own,” Travis said.
That dream came true in the summer of 2010 when they put together their first truck. Fittingly, they named it Double Trouble.
Currently, Tyler drives Double Trouble and Travis drives Captain USA, owned by Jeff Bainter. Though the two trucks are on the same team, the twins compete against each other at each show. Actually, they compete against each other 24/7.
“We’re competitive with everything we do,” Travis said, eager to point out he’s one minute older than his brother. During a recent show, the brothers were racing against each other and “We got a little amped and Tyler rolled Double Trouble.”
The Groths traveled to more than 30 venues with their trucks in 2012 – a total of 70 shows. When not on the road, they are either at home in Gig Harbor or in Cle Elum.
Many aspects of Double Trouble and Captain USA are the same: custom axles, transmissions, engines, shocks (two per wheel), shifters, custom transfer cases, 25-inch wheels with 66-inch tires. The duplication makes repairs and maintenance easier.
The full-time 4WD trucks have only two gears. “We start in low and the rest of the show it’s in high,” Travis said.
The trucks have 540-cubic-inch V-8 Chevy engines that run on methanol. They have 1,400 horsepower (A comparable street-legal truck has 350 horsepower.)
The trucks have been repainted for the 2013 circuit. Fans who have been used to a red Double Trouble will now see a whole new look in Tacoma.
“Everybody who sees it says, ‘Good grief,’” Travis said.
Fans of the monster trucks range from “little kids that are just in awe looking at the trucks to adults who are trying to comprehend how these trucks get 30 feet in the air,” Travis said.
The event starts with a wheelie contest followed by racing. The show wraps up with a freestyle event. “That’s the big draw for the fans. You can go out and hit anything they have set up.” That includes all manner of cars, vans and (smaller) trucks. Be careful where you park your car.
The competition is both timed and judged and though the drivers compete against each other nearly every weekend, the outcome is never certain, Travis said. “Some of the guys get pretty competitive.”
For the Groths, monster truck driving is something beyond a competition and earning a living.
“It’s more fun than a job,” Travis said. “I don’t know what else you could do that’s more fun.”
Monster Jam: Rock The Dome
When: 7:30 p.m. Jan. 4; 2 and 7:30 p.m. Jan. 5; 1 p.m. Jan. 6
Where: Tacoma Dome, 2727 E. D St., Tacoma
Advance tickets: $10 for adults and $5 for kids (advance purchase only). $20 for adults; kids tickets (age 2-12) available for only $5 on select seating (with the purchase of an adult ticket; limit two discount kids tickets per purchase) all tickets priced $2 more day of show.
Purchase: At the Tacoma Dome box office, online at Ticketmaster.com or charge by phone at 800-745-3000.
Information: MonsterJam.com, mirrorimageracing.com
More about the show
This year’s “Rock The Dome” will be the largest monster truck event to date in the Puget Sound area. Trucks include: Monster Mutt, Dalmatian, Captain America, Grave Digger, Max-D, Iron Outlaw, Bounty Hunter, Team Hot Wheels Firestorm, Mohawk Warrior, Grave Digger: The Legend, Titan, Destroyer, The Patriot, Tropical Thunder, Captain USA, Double Trouble, and Obsessed.
A “Party in the Pits” pre-show experience on Jan. 5 will give fans the opportunity to get a view of the trucks up close and to meet drivers. Saturday, 2 p.m. Event ticket and Pit Pass required for entry. Pit Pass available to purchase for $10 adults / $5 kids (ages 2-12) online at Ticketmaster.com.
Special ticket offers include:
• Save $5 off adult admission with a coupon from local Ford store (while supplies last)
• Get a free kid’s ticket with a coupon from participating Burger King locations when you purchase an adult ticket (while supplies last)Craig Sailor: 253-597-8541 email@example.com blog.thenewstribune.com/getout/