SYRACUSE When Tom Meents was a youngster, there was no reason for him to think that one day he would become the most successful monster truck driver in the world. But, over a 19-year career, the 44-year-old from Paxton, Ill., has gone from driving mud racers on farms in the Midwest to driving monster trucks in the biggest sports arenas in the United States and Europe.
Since joining the circuit in 1993, he has moved up from driving other owners’ trucks to owning and driving his own monster, Maximum Destruction, which is equipped with a 1500-horsepower, 540-cubic-inch engine and rides on 66-inch tires. While Dennis Anderson, driving Grave Digger, has become the face of Monster Jam over a 30-year career, Meents has outscored him 9-4 in world championships, and their rivalry will continue on Saturday, March 10, in Syracuse as a prelude to the world championships two weeks later in Las Vegas.
Despite a career that has made him famous and keeps him on the road much of the year, Meents still lives in Paxton (population 4000) where, he said, “Nobody makes a big deal of it [his career]. I have a 14-year-old daughter and I drive her to school (not in Maximum Destruction) just like other people and it’s no big deal – to her and her friends I’m just a guy with kind of a different job.”
He’s also a guy with a passion for giving something to kids. As do many other Monster Jam drivers, Meents loves to interact with kids, especially kids facing difficult situations.
“I used to think that all I would be doing was going out and running monster trucks, but the coolest thing about my job is the chance to hospitals to meet and help out kids that are having a tough time,” he said. The evidence of his success in that arena can be seen on his Facebook page and on his website, crushcars.com, which are both filled with notes from his young fans and their parents.