Jared Eichelberger grew up in the Monster Jam family.
Eichelberger’s father, Tom Meents, reigns as the most successful driver in Monster Jam World Finals history and runs Monster Jam University, a training institution for potential drivers. So it was no surprise when he ditched his degree in agriculture and turned to monster trucks nearly three years ago.
Eichelberger and Monster Jam cruises into Mohegan Sun Arena at Casey Plaza, 255 Highland Park Blvd., Wilkes-Barre Twp. from Friday, Feb. 9, through Sunday, Feb. 11. Tickets start at $15 and are available at ticketmaster.com, the arena box office or by calling 800-745-3000.
Prior to becoming a driver for Max-D, Eichelberger worked as a crew member, mechanic and crew chief for both his father and his younger brother, Colton, who started driving a year before he did. When the 29-year-old finally got the opportunity to test, he jumped on the chance.
Now, the three all drive for the Max-D team and assist one another throughout each show.
“Our dad is our biggest teacher,” Eichelberger said. “I idolize him and try to drive like him. He’s given us a lot of tips and helpful instruction, from interviewing to driving to just associating with fans and to helping out everyone at the show. It’s a big team project. We all have to work together to accommodate to make it work and give a good performance. Working with them is pretty neat… When the weekend is over we’ll have Monday dinner together to talk about the weekend and talk about how we can improve.”
Max-D, formerly known as Maximum Destruction, can easily be spotted on the track with its orange and silver paint and spikes protruding from the truck’s body. According to Eichelberger, Max-D really shines during the Two-Wheel Skill Competition, as performing tricks and balancing acts such as nose wheelies.
Super fans better not miss the two pit parties prior to the matinee shows on Saturday and Sunday, beginning at 10:30 a.m. These parties give fans the opportunity to get up close and personal with the Monster Jam trucks and drivers.
Even though Eichelberger barely hit three years as a driver, he has driven in more than 100 shows. The driver has become very comfortable in the trucks and arenas, he said, but there is always more to learn from his father and other veteran drivers.
“Just having a great coach at home has really been beneficial,” Eichelberger said. “We have Monster Jam University in my hometown; my dad trains drivers and I work there when I’m not on the road.”
Although Eichelberger admitted that staying at the top of the game is a major challenge he faces, the constant pressure to live up to his father’s legacy brings the most pressure.
“There’s a lot of pressure to compete and to be as good as him, to represent him and to represent the brand Max-D,” he said. “I take that pressure and I use it for my advantage out on the track. ”
If you go
What: Monster Jam
When: Friday, Feb. 9, 7 p.m.; Saturday, Feb. 10, 1 and 7 p.m.; Sunday, Feb. 11, 1 p.m.
Where: 255 Highland Park Blvd., Wilkes-Barre Twp.
Details: Tickets start at $15 and are available at the arena’s NBT Bank Box Office, by calling 800-745-3000 or at ticketmaster.com. There is a $10 fee to park in the arena’s lot. Tickets for pit parties are $10, and can only be purchased by those with show tickets.
— Charlotte l. Jacobson