Charlie Pauken is the human force behind 10,000 pounds of raw power.
Pauken, who lives in Maumee, will drive the legendary Grave Digger truck at Monster Jam, slated for 1 and 7 p.m. Saturday, April 22, and 1 p.m., Sunday, April 23, in the Jerome Schottenstein Center, 555 Borror Drive, on the Ohio State University campus.
Two “pit parties,” which give fans the opportunity to meet drivers and look at the trucks, also are scheduled from 10:30 a.m. to noon each day.
Tickets are $15 for adults and $12 for children. They are available at online at ticketmaster.com.
Grave Digger is one of eight monster trucks that will be part of the show.
The shows feature speed and skills tests, wheelie and doughnut competitions and freestyle moves, Pauken said.
“That’s the great part about it,” said Pauken, 50. “You don’t know what’s going to happen.”
Like most children, Pauken dreamed of becoming a police officer or firefighter, but was always drawn to minibikes and go-karts.
“I was always that mechanical guy,” he said, noting he has been driving for the Grave Digger team for 18 years. “I never thought this would be my career.”
His truck is 12 feet tall and 12 feet wide, with 66-inch tires and a 540-cubic-inch engine that generates 1,500 horsepower.
“It’s like no other adrenaline rush ever,” Pauken said. “You’re basically in this monstrous thing that’s meant to be indestructible and can drive over everything.”
The risk of a crash is exciting to many spectators, he said.
“No matter what, it’s a motor sport, so there’s inherent danger in it,” he said. “We have a strict rulebook we go by. I’m in one of the safest places I can be.
“Everybody likes to see a rollover and something that breaks on a truck and have it keep going, They love to see that.”
He said he’s looking forward to the show at the Schott.
“The crowd’s always great,” he said. “What’s great is the kids make banners for us and bring back hats from years ago and have them signed by new drivers.
“The sport’s been around so long it’s great to see the cycle of new fans.”
Monster Jam shows draw more than 4 million fans in the largest stadiums and arenas in the world, said Dan DiPietro-James, a spokesman for Feld Entertainment, which is bringing the show to Columbus
“Our fanbase has expanded across the globe and because of that fan growth we are adding new shows in cities and countries worldwide,” DiPietro-James said. “These are the largest, loudest, most powerful recreational vehicles on earth, and the impact on audiences is palpable.”