Really Big Trucks, Really Big Hearts

Shortly after a colorful cast of monster trucks rolled into WesBanco Arena in Wheeling Friday in preparation for this weekend’s Advance Auto Parts Monster Jam Thunder Nationals, the drivers of Iron Man and Blue Thunder took time to serve cake and sign autographs for the lunchtime crowd at the Soup Kitchen of Greater Wheeling.

Lee O’Donnell, driver of Iron Man and Dan Evans, driver of Blue Thunder, both said they’re always glad to get involved with local charities while traveling with the Thunder Nationals show.

“We are always on the road and constantly on the move and when we’re in one place for a couple of days it’s always nice to give back to the community that you’re in … and they appreciate it,” said O’Donnell, while serving slices of a specially made “Iron Man” Monster Jam cake to patrons of the soup kitchen.

“Anytime we can get out and give back to the community it is awesome for us and we enjoy doing it,” Evans said.

O’Donnell and Evans were also on hand for special drawings to give away free tickets to patrons of the soup kitchen who may not be able to afford to see the show this weekend.

Other monster truck fan favorites included in this weekend’s show include Samson, Rap Attack, Instigator and Bad News Travels Fast.

Most of the customized trucks are approximately 12 feet tall, 12 feet wide, and sit atop 66-inch-tall tires. Built for short, high-powered bursts of speed, monster trucks are capable of traveling more than 125 feet in distance while nearly 35 feet in the air. They will typically jump over a row of 14 cars positioned side by side.

Scheduled show times for this weekend are 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. today and 2 p.m., Sunday. There will be a special “Party in the Pits” beginning at 11:30 a.m. today.

For an additional charge, the “Party in the Pits” gives fans an opportunity to view trucks up close and meet the drivers.