Grave Digger appearance at Grossmont Center attracts truckloads of fans

Courtesy illustration.

Last Thursday, I joined in a long line of people coiled in the Claim Jumper parking lot at Grossmont Center on Thursday afternoon, Jan. 24.

We had all come to see a truck. Not just any truck, but the monster truck Grave Digger. I was almost as giddy as the kids around me to see up close its ginormous power.

Trevor Moore, director of marketing and public relations for the shopping center, welcomed everyone to the event which started at 4 p.m. even many of us arrived earlier to try to beat the crowd.

“We are so glad you are here. This is just one of the activities we hold here at Grossmont Center to bring the community together,” Moore said, as families waited with their kids holding Grave Digger toy trucks.

Joey Street, 12, waited two hours to pose for a photograph with Dakota, the driver, and to see the gigantic vehicle up close.

“We got here before 4 o’clock,” Street said.

Was the wait worth it?

“Oh, yes,” he said. “I got both my cap and my truck signed.”

So, what’s so great about monster trucks, anyway? In particular, Grave Digger?

“Well, it’s the biggest and the baddest,” Street said.

Orion Bracamonte, just twenty-one months old, looked just as thrilled as anyone else as his father held him and Stephens talked with the little tyke. Dakota autographed Orion’s toy truck.

“We just went to the most recent monster truck jam,” said Bracamonte’s father, laughing. “This kind of thing, the monster trucks, is just super-exciting to see. Orion started watching the trucks on video when he was really little.”

I could not help wondering, though, what kind of power monster trucks had over people—me included. What was the reason behind our patience to wait for two or more hours just to get our photo taken with the driver in front of the gargantuan truck and to talk for a few minutes?

Dakota had a good answer to that.

“It’s an adrenalin rush you can’t imagine when I drive this thing,” he said. “But honestly, I enjoy these tours around, too, to see all the people and hear their stories. It is a lot of hard work and can be very tiring.” Dakota looked at the still long-line at 6 p.m. and said, “But this is one of my favorite things to do.”

“It’s just a great time to get everybody together,” the elder Bracomente said.

Yes, it is. It’s part of our heritage, this driving of big trucks. They carry cargo and dreams of new frontiers.

Grave Digger and all its monster truck cousins are great Americanisms, too. The massive trucks stand approximately 12 feet tall, same in width. The car-crunching tires are 66 inches and weigh at least 10,000 pounds. Drivers can get the trucks up to 100 miles an hour. What’s more, they can make the trucks fly 130 feet out and 35 feet up in the air.

And if the trucks get all bent from tipping over when the drivers push them into death-defying jumps, no big deal. They can get hammered back into shape and repainted.

“This truck has been reshaped and repainted, down to the detail in all the design,” said Dakota. “It gets banged up pretty bad.”

It’s that rising to life again monster trucks possess that keep us all coming back and for a closer look. Long live the Grave Digger.

Grossmont Center has more unique events planned for 2019. For more information, go to