•"We produce a truck- and tractor-pull series," says Mancuso. "The tractors are not really tractors, they're 7,200-pound, multiengine dragster-tractors."
•"We have Brian Carson," says Mancuso. "He drives a car 400 feet at 65 miles an hour up a ramp and sails through the air 100 feet and crashes into a five-story stack of cars that explodes upon impact."
Wherever do you get all those Pintos?
"That act comes self-contained," says Mancuso. "He brings his own cars."
I have lived in the monster and I know its insides.
I am in the belly of the beast, sitting in the lone seat of Grave Digger's spartan cab. "No AM-FM," says Digger's owner, Anderson, a speck on the ground 15 feet below. "No rearview mirror." No pine-tree air freshener. No beaded seat cover. No bubble-domed dashboard compass. This is the way the drivers like it. Nothing to come between a man and his monster.
What powerful force is it that compels someone to drive monsters? It's a truck thing—you wouldn't understand. "We're flying 10,000-pound trucks through the air," says Gary Porter, who owns and drives the Carolina Crusher. "I really can't explain that feeling."
Only a couple of dozen men make a living at it, traveling 40 weeks a year, often just to meet the expense of maintaining a world-class monster, which costs anywhere from $80,000 to $150,000 to build. Which is why almost everyone who builds one is the owner of a custom-truck shop or auto-supply store.
The life isn't for everyone. "I used to bring my wife to these," says the technician operating the equipment that times the races in Pittsburgh. "She doesn't come anymore. She told me, 'Don't tell anyone you actually do this, O.K.?' "