Monster trucks muscle in on Lismore
By ANDY PARKS
YOU have to take your hat off to the cheerful resilience of monster truck driver Barry Gaunt.
Three years ago the suspension on his truck came apart and he described the impact as like ‘jumping off a building’. He walked away, but took himself to hospital the next day with what he thought was ‘a bit of a sore back’.
When a doctor examined him he said ‘don’t move’ and had him strapped down for four days. The vertebrae of his spine were ‘a cigarette paper away’ from severing his spinal chord and putting him in a wheelchair for life.
He now wears a plastic ‘turtle back’ to help protect his spine when he drives, but wouldn’t give up driving the mechanical monsters for the world.
“It’s fun,” he said.
“When you get the motor running you feel the methanol flowing in your veins. When you get it all going it’s hard to give it up.”
Barry is one of three monster truck drivers taking part in a show at the Lismore Showgrounds tonight. Another is 16-year-old Billy Featherby, who will be driving Outback Thunder, the Australian monster truck champion. “He’s got no fear – yet,” Barry said.
“He goes a bit crazy and tips it up. The crowds love it.”
Apart from the monster trucks, the show features ‘the world’s fastest jet van’, a Toyota Hiace that has been fitted with a jet engine.
It has been clocked at doing 339 km/h on Conrod Straight at Bathurst.
“It was built by an Irishman and driven by an Irishman ... you wouldn’t get me into it,” Barry said.
Also on the bill are a couple of motocross stunt riders who do an array of high-altitude tricks with names like ‘the heal clicker’, ‘the coffin cheater’, ‘the superman’ and ‘the no hander-lander’.
One of the riders, 20-year-old Clinton Moore even does a backflip.
“The first time I did it I landed upside down and broke both my arms,” he said. “After that I built a foam pit so I could practice.”
The other rider, Josh Burden, was a little more pragmatic.
“You’ve gotta be thinking and on your game the whole time. I won’t lie to you, its gone wrong for me plenty of times and I’ve spent as much time in hospital as I have riding.”