Koehler Ready To Add Some Excitement To July 29 Monster Truck Madness At BMS
Monster truck pilot Jim Koehler has earned the nickname, “Mr. Excitement,” and he intends to show the Bristol Motor Speedway crowd why during the July 29 Thompson Metal Monster Truck Madness.
Koehler, a mainstay on SPEED’s Monster Jam coverage, will maneuver his 1957 Chevy-bodied monster truck through massive obstacles during the BMS event. For him, the freestyle portion of the evening is always a highlight, and the reason he earned the “Mr. Excitement” moniker.
“Freestyle is probably my favorite part,” the 2003 Monster Jam Freestyle World Champion said. “You can cut loose and do what you want. You just have to do a better job than the other guys. That is the coolest part. You can just get wild. The better the truck is, the wilder you can get.”
Koehler, who started his racing career in mud drag racing, took notice of the monster truck phenomenon while competing in the mud drag events. It didn’t take him long to decide he wanted his own truck.
“My family was in to motorsports,” he explained. “My dad was a drag racer and we own a speed shop, building engines and that type of stuff. We’d go to the mud racing shows, and there would be monster trucks there. I would look at them and say, ‘Those are nice; those are cool. I could build one of those.’
“I started looking at trucks and how they were built and realized they weren’t that different than the mud drag cars. They had heavier axles and things. We started building one and a few years later, got it finished and started running it. We did something people like, so it turned out to be a career I guess.”
He says his career in mud drag racing helped his transition to monster trucks. His biggest challenge came in constructing the truck.
“My biggest thing when I started,” he said, “was I knew enough to build it, but not to build it 100 percent right. My steering wasn’t as quick as everybody else because I didn’t have the right stuff. There isn’t an instruction manual on parts to buy. You learn as you go…there were a lot of things that I was lacking.
“It is cool, too, because I know I built the truck and fabricated it with my own two hands. It is something Hot Wheels wanted to make a toy of, video games are putting it in there, that is the accomplishment. It makes you feel proud. That is so cool. It is your vehicle, you built it, you drive it.”
Now that he has a solid truck underneath him, fans in Bristol can expect quite the show from Mr. Excitement. They can even shake his hand at the pit party.
“When you see a kid that doesn’t even know his ABCs yet,” he started, “and he knows your name is Jim Koehler and your nickname is Mr. Excitement and you drive Avenger and can list all these other monster trucks, that shows you have an impact on these kids. Everyone in our sport does. With such a fan-friendly sport, we put ourselves out there so we can do those autograph session and pit parties. It is a superhero feeling to know these kids all across the country know my name and it is just because I drive a monster truck. It is totally awesome.”
The pit party, which begins at 6 p.m., will allow fans to meet the drivers on the backstretch of the World’s Fastest Half-Mile. Afterward, the racing action begins. Koehler says the track is the perfect place for freestyle.
“The show at Bristol is going to be a wild show,” he said. “The people putting it on always have great tracks and stellar events. They set the bar. They’ve made the longest track. In the past, they’ve made a track with an over/under jump, with one truck going under another one. It was insane. To me, when they set the bar that high, and you’ve got a facility with the room, you can have the big jumps and all the fun aspects of what we love to do. That makes it cool.”
Eight of the biggest names in monster truck racing come to town for a show that will be just exciting as the ones on television. Along with Avenger, trucks currently scheduled to appear are War Wizard, Brutus, Equalizer, Rammunition, Tailgator, Raminator and Bad Habit.
Fans will see the trucks go head to head in racing, followed by freestyle.
For those that want to get even closer to the action, the pre-race pit party allows fans to come to the infield of the “World’s Fastest Half-Mile” to meet the drivers, get autographs and pose for pictures next to the trucks. Merchandise from the drivers also will be available for purchase.
In addition, the Team FMX freestyle motocross team will put on a stunning display of awesome jumps and stunts just like the ones seen on TV. The routines are always a crowd-favorite and the Team FMX riders always are happy to put on an amazing show for their screaming fans.
New to this year’s event is a junk car burn down. A jet car, chained to an old junker, will turn on the afterburners and torch the car until it melts to the ground.
The evening ends with a fireworks show to light up the skies above BMS.
Tickets are $15 in advance or $20 at the gate. Coupons for $5 off adult admission tickets purchased on the day of the event will be available at Thompson Metal Services in Kingsport, Roadrunner Convenience Stores, and area Fas Mart locations. Children 10 and under are only $5.
To purchase tickets in advance, please visit the BMS ticket office located on the first floor of the Bruton Smith administration building or call (423) 989-6900.