A Look at Grave Digger, for Fans in Auto Mechanic College
With gigantic tires, heavy duty suspension, and a supersized height, monster trucks are far from your average family sedan. Monster truck events usually feature both a race and a freestyle portion, where drivers race their trucks through obstacles, then perform stunts like wheelies, backflips, and doughnuts. Grave Digger is a widely recognized name from the monster truck world, with a massive fan base and legendary following.
Read on for a closer look at this huge truck.
A Short History of Grave Digger
In 1979, Dennis Anderson created Grave Digger, his modified 1952 Ford pickup, for mud bog racing. Fast forward to today and Grave Digger is the most famous monster truck around, having participated in every Monster Jam from the event’s beginnings in 1992.
Grave Digger transitioned from mud racing to monster events in the mid-80s, finding fame after beating Bigfoot, the number one truck at the time. This spawned an exciting rivalry, with a growing fan base behind Anderson and his machine. Anderson is now retired and there are multiple Grave Diggers and drivers, to make sure that the fan favourite can perform at events all over North America.
After the knowledge that comes with auto technician courses, you may find Grave Digger causes you to cringe—a typical ending to a Grave Digger freestyle is a spectacular crash.
You can see it in action for yourself in this short clip:
Compare These Parts to What You Might See in an Auto Mechanic Apprenticeship
Grave Digger runs on a 2-speed Powerglide automatic transmission. As you’ll learn or may already know, modern automatic transmissions are at least 3-speed, but will often have more—up to 7. The Powerglide automatic was first introduced by General Motors in 1950. Though it is an older type, the Powerglide is still preferred by many drag, mud, and monster truck racers. Its simplistic design (with just two options—low and high speed) is well-suited to racing. It’s also durable enough to run many races before requiring a rebuild.
The transmission is located in the middle of the vehicle, to help lower the centre of gravity. The driver’s seat is also placed centrally, to help with rolling as the car is driven all-out to entertain fans. On the front of Grave Digger is a very important feature: its red headlights. The trademark red headlights, sparking excitement in fans when switched on, were originally taken from a school bus (they were the tail lights).
Of course, Grave Digger wouldn’t be a monster truck without huge tires. If you become a mechanic, you may never encounter tires of this size, since they’re 66 inches tall and a whopping 43 inches wide. Each tire weighs between 800 and 900 pounds. An important part of whipping a monster truck around is maintaining some degree of controlled contact with the ground. Since occasionally only one wheel will be touching the dirt, Grave Digger has four wheel steering and can accelerate when tilted.
Want to Become a Mechanic? You’ll Love the Safety Features on Grave Digger
Monster trucks get slammed around a considerable amount. To keep parts from flying out into the crowd when they break off, Grave Digger has some safety guards in place. The wheels are secured to the axles using a braided steel cable, in case they come off. In addition, steel rings and bars cover the driveshafts, providing a cage in case one snaps off.
There is a handle available for the driver that will activate two fire extinguishers that are onboard, aimed at the engine. In addition, four people located in the corners of the track have access to a Remote Ignition Interrupter that will automatically cut the truck’s fuel supply off. If anyone sees something dangerous that the driver doesn’t, this precaution helps to keep everyone safe.
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