Monster Mash! Trucks, drivers smash hit with Georgetown Speedway crowd

GEORGETOWN – Colossal tires on the likes of Hot Tamale, Mississippi Nightmare and The Illuminator towered over many young fans who took in the two-night Monster Truck Racing League show July 6-7 at Georgetown Speedway.

Among those: Tucker Rife – a 10-year-old Virginia youth who is already a seasoned, five-year veteran in the world of Monster Trucks.

“I’ve been doing this since I was five,” said Tucker.

For about a month, Tucker has been at the wheel of Top Dog, a mini-Monster Truck. He’s graduated from smaller-size truck versions and is a rung away from moving up the ladder to the big-time Monster Truck ranks. He’ll be a fifth grader this coming school year and already has post-high school graduation plans mapped out.

“Yes, this is what I want to do,” said Tucker.

“He will be. He already has a ride, so he’s good,” said Tucker’s father, Dave Rife. “We’ve had Tucker sit on the driver’s lap and drive around the pit area before, so he is already starting to work his way up to that. We ‘re trying to teach him now, so when it comes to that, he is ready.”

For now, and the foreseeable future, it’s Top Dog.

“There’s a go-kart version of mini-monster trucks. Tucker started that when he was five. Then we moved into a Patriot chassis, which is smaller than this. This is his largest now. He’s been in this one for four weeks now,” said Mr. Rife. “This is his fifth truck. He’ll be in this truck probably until he’s 16 or 17.”

The father/son trucking endeavor keeps them away from their Moneta, Virginia home nestled between Roanoke and Lynchburg for extended periods.

“We’re on the road until mid-August,” Tucker said. “My dad, he runs the show.”

“He’s got 56 shows between the 1st of June and the 1st of November,” Mr. Rife said. “Basically, when we are gone we stay on the road all summer. We’ve been home three days all summer.”

They travel in a pickup truck with a closed trailer.

“Then there is merchandise and all of that fun stuff. We stuff it in there, but it works,” said Mr. Rife.


Tucker is following in his father’s footsteps.

“I’ve actually done everything in Monster Trucks. I’ve drove Monster Trucks. I’ve crewed. I’ve actually announced one time, but never again …,” said Mr. Rife with a smile. “I did a lot of it, so I basically stopped when Tucker was born. As soon as he turned five we started doing it full-time again and have been going straight since.”

Following a Friday night duel with weather and a potentially stormy forecast, grandstands were packed Saturday night, July 7 for high-flying thrills in the second evening of the Auto Equity Loans Monster Truck Madness at Georgetown Speedway.

The event featured the legendary BIGFOOT, driven by Darron Schnell.

Seven Monster Trucks, including Top Dog, entertained the crowd.

Fans got to mingle with drivers alongside their vehicles at a pre-event meet-and-greet prior to the show. Autographs, selfies and photos were the order of the night.

“I never have had a favorite. I just like watching it,” said Monster Truck fan Toby Allender, 14, of Selbyville.

As an added attraction, spectators had the opportunity to get the feel of a Monster Truck in free rides aboard Mississippi Nightmare prior to the show and also during intermission.

Richie Yatsko, driver of the red-hot colored Hot Tamale truck, enjoys meeting fans, signing autographs and posing for Kodak moment keepsakes. It’s fun and all part of the game, he says.

“Yes, that’s why we are out there, to make sure the fans get a good show and they enjoy it,” said Mr. Yatsko.

News Editor Glenn Rolfe can be reached at grolfe@newszap.com

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