Petco Park to host Monster Jam truck events

Note: Bill Center, longtime sportswriter for U-T San Diego, is an employee of the Padres.

The ballpark that starred as a Holiday Wonderland last month is transitioning again.

Over the next four Saturdays, Petco Park will host two Monster Jam truck events ahead of San Diego's 31st annual stop on the American Motorcyclist Association's Supercross tour.

Tickets for the two Monster Jam truck events -- Jan. 17 and 31 -- range from $15-$45. Tickets for the Feb. 7 Monster Energy Supercross range from $15-$75. More than 7,500 tons of dirt is being trucked into Petco Park to build the obstacle courses for the three high-performance motorsports events, which are contoured for the entire family.

The Monster Jam truck events feature such well-known one-of-a-kind tracks as the Carl Van Horn-driven Grave Digger, Dan Rodoni's El Toro Loco and Rod Schmidt's Monster Mutt.

Although they are designed to resemble pickups, Monster Jam trucks are 12-feet tall by 12-feet wide, weigh around 10,000 pounds and are powered by methanol-fueled, 1,500-horsepower engines. The tires on each vehicle are 66-inches high and 43-inches wide.

During the course of a Monster Jam truck event, the competitors will clear jumps, crush cars and other obstacles and compete in timed runs. Yes, there are flips aplenty. It's part of the show. Nothing like seeing a Monster Truck nose-dive coming off a jump.

In terms of competition, the Feb. 7 Supercross is part of the national tour that includes many of the top closed-course, off-road motorcycle riders in the world. This is a transitional season for Supercross.

Four-time champion Ryan Villopoto retired from Supercross earlier this month at the age of 26 and is planning to ride the World Motocross Championship series in Europe this year. And two-time champion James Stewart will miss the Supercross season while serving a suspension for the use of a banned substance.

The absence of Villopoto and Stewart opens the championship run to a number of younger riders including Ken Roczen, Eli Tomac, Jason Anderson and Trey Canard as well as former champion Ryan Dungey.