We have an amazing guest for you this week on Bucket Talk. Adam Anderson, the son of legendary monster truck driver Dennis Anderson, creator and operator of the Grave Digger. Take a listen as Adam walks us through the hectic lifestyle of a champion monster truck driver/entertainer. Jeremy and Adam talk about the toughness needed for action sports, the similarities between nascar and monster trucks, and what it is like being born into the spotlight and carrying on the legacy of a legend.
Eric Girouard 0:00
This is bucket top, a weekly podcast where people who work in the trades and construction that aren't just trying to survive but have the ambition and desire to thrive. The opportunity to trade and construction is absolutely ridiculous right now. So if you're hungry, it's time to eat. We discuss what it takes to rise from the bottom to the top with people who are well on their way and roll up their sleeves every single day.
Jeremy Perkins 0:28
All right, welcome back to this episode of bucket talk. We have a our guest, who you may know where he comes from, but it's Adam Anderson. Adam Anderson, comes from the grave digger monster truck legacy. His Instagram handle is Adam Anderson underscore G D for Grave Digger. Adam, welcome.
Adam Anderson 0:50
Hey, thanks for having me, man. Excited to be on here and working with you guys.
Jeremy Perkins 0:53
Hell yeah, hell yeah. Obviously, you know, I was 37. Now I think and I have to ask my wife, but I'm 37 and I grew up watching your father. I guess race monster trucks? What? Yeah,
Adam Anderson 1:11
is there you know what I really don't know. Because it is all there is competition within man. It's just like, my dad's always considered himself a motorsport entertainer. You know, there's competition side of it. And the competition side is legit. But at the same time, sometimes you forget about the competition side because you're being entertained so well, so and that was kind of my dad's gig. He didn't know what he was doing. And if he was wrecking and crashing, he was entertaining people though. Hell yeah. Hell
Jeremy Perkins 1:37
yeah. So where are you guys based out of how'd you get your start? Well, obviously know how you got your start. But I'd love to hear more about your start. And yeah, just a little bit of background on what you do on a day to day basis.
Adam Anderson 1:49
Yeah, man. So actually, I we're based out of just, we're right in the Outer Banks, North Carolina, around the Kitty Hawk killable Hills area, not far off from there. And it's kind of where grave diggers home base always was where dad grew up out in the sticks out here and building, you know, building big trucks out of junk. But anyways, you know, so myself getting started, and I'm the oldest sibling of the four of us that are actually competing within the Monster Jam series, but I am the eldest son of Dennis Anderson, the creator and driver of Grave Digger for many years and mandus has been actually my career now for for 18 years of my life. Which it sounds crazy to say that because I don't feel that old but I am I'm the same age as you. I do know how old I am though. I am 37 You're making me second guess myself now but 85 Yeah, that's what it feels like the dog years and a monster truck for sure. But, but it's, it's been my life, man. But prior to that actually wasn't my full time gig. I did. I ran a service truck and run. And I was the I was an operator. I was hired operator, but I was the guy that had to be there before everybody service, all the equipment, all that stuff. And I did that at a pretty young age for a couple years because Monster Jam Monster Trucks was all still kind of growing and it was a seasonal thing. There wasn't enough space for for all of us yet. So that was that was kind of my my stepping stone was out there. I was working on equipment in the field and then and then finally got the call one day from Monster Jam, asking if I wanted to give it a try. And they had me a seat and I'm like absolutely and then it was decided there I went out and did a little test for him. They saw what I did my dad was standing in the background between himself and the officials they then decided that yes, I needed to go on the road. No, I wasn't gonna be driving the truck I was just gonna be working my ass off so I did that for quite some time it was just crew running up and down the road and would fill in for some guys here and there when they couldn't drive until a spot came up and for me man and like I said it's been 18 years 28 different countries and I've been to every state but Alaska man and it's a it's been a wild ride that's for sure. That's crazy.
Jeremy Perkins 4:02
So I just took my son up I haven't been able to take him to an actual Monster Jam event but they had I don't know Is it the BC? I mean, how are they ranked? But there was a couple a couple it was a lobster and then a couple of main trucks
Adam Anderson 4:19
up near me Yeah, yeah, that's Greg witching batch and those guys they're actually they're good dudes, man. And it is there's different I'd say there's different levels of honestly a lot of those guys now. Some most their equipment is becoming to the level of what we run at. Yeah, because they do come they do come and do some shows we do and not every one of them but it's everybody's everybody's past who doesn't want a monster trucker to drive one so you know, there's different levels of it out there for sure. The competition level of where we're at. It's a it's it's not I can't say it's a it's a hobby because you there's people out there that can afford this kind of hobby but at the same time, man it's a it's a lot of blood, sweat and tears that go into And then, and a lot of a lot of money behind it too. So it's a lot of work though.
Jeremy Perkins 5:04
Now how many trucks how many trucks are within the Grave Digger outfit there.
Adam Anderson 5:08
So over the years this year, we should have built 42 of them from the beginning, but we have built like my sister, I think has the newest one, which is 41 I drive gravedigger 35. And we're always just continuously building new trucks throughout mine specially retired. I don't want to but I guess I'm gonna have to do it. So
Jeremy Perkins 5:30
you guys got a whole crew to maintain all the vehicles and whatnot.
Adam Anderson 5:33
Yeah, yeah. So and basically it's honestly when you're out on the road, man, it's, we have one head crew guy and the crew chief that really kind of does almost everything for the most part you do it there is two guys. But there is at any given moment, like, we know we're gonna go to an event to one of the big stadium events and we have a Saturday and a Sunday event. Then we fly into extra guys because we know that they're, they're not going to survive it we need we need all the help we can get. So it's kind of it's mixed depending on the event where you're at and what's going on. And so it's but there's guys behind the scenes man like this week. My main man is he's out there and Houston right now he shouldn't be in the parking lot with everything that truck toward a million pieces going through it all and they'll put it back together and no wait for me to come in and just tear the thing apart for Him.
Jeremy Perkins 6:26
Oh, yeah, hell yeah. So you still ranch on everything right? You're still out there putting pieces together are you kind of site supervisor now.
Adam Anderson 6:36
I can go either way, I've been doing it long enough. I can be the site supervisor and or. But in the midst of the show, man, it's it's no holds barred. It doesn't matter what it takes. And I've been there and I'm in my fire suit. And I'll stand back if we got the guys there. Because do the the crew is on it. And they do it so often, that I get in their way sometimes, you know, I've gotten out of the groove of it. There's so many new parts and pieces. I know what all of them are. But they've got a rhythm to them. And if I go out there and I get them out of rhythm I mess them up. But at the same time, sometimes I gotta throw it down old school and I don't care. I'm just getting right in the midst of it, because we got to make it to the next round.
Jeremy Perkins 7:12
Yeah. So I mean, getting into getting into the whole the monster truck scene, like obviously, there's a progression. It sounds like you had a little bit of a leg up. But like Where? Where do you go from here? I mean, are you at the top of the game? Or are is there another level team ownership? What do you think your own your own car? Your sorry? Your own truck itself?
Adam Anderson 7:35
Yeah. Man, I you know, that's that's a great question. I think after 18 years is to hope to be able to walk properly across my yard. But it's not it. There's other places to go within this sport. And do I want to probably not because it involves me being behind this. I like don't get me wrong, I'll do all the work. I'd rather do the hands on work, then then to be the guy back there punching the keyboard to make the next move. That's just not my style. I can't do it. At one time, you know, we had 41 employees at the shop and I ran all those guys. And you know, I had a company computer all this I didn't even turn it on. There was dust on it. I couldn't barely get the thing to print because I never sat in my office. I never went up there I made another guy that I knew he wasn't worth a dang out on the floor. So I said hey, you go up here, you're gonna type in all these reports and send all this stuff and everybody I'm not doing it. That's gonna be your job. You don't have to work. I'd rather walk through the shop, watch a guy struggle for him and then get in there and get my hand that was just kind of my way man with 41 people around it was a nonstop thing going on.
Jeremy Perkins 8:40
That's crazy. So that's that's me and not all of them are mechanics, not fabricators, whatever. It's all different crafts.
Adam Anderson 8:48
Yeah, yeah. So and that was it was That's between you know, the engine room shocks and differentials. And the fabrication department and and we'd let the guys the it'd be in their own realm I was more responsible for all the guys that were on the wrenches. You know, whether it was the the crew chiefs or the guys below them, you know, it was it was everywhere in between and then training new people when they came in to making sure you put them with the right people that are actually going to teach them and use them as a tool and not let them just sit there you know?
Jeremy Perkins 9:17
Yeah, that was actually gonna be my next question. Where do you pull? Where do you pull people from? I mean, it seems kind of specialized. How do you get a start if you want to be in the monster truck circuit wrenching on these things?
Adam Anderson 9:28
You know, it's I want to say it's difficult but it's the hardest part for me is maybe crushing somebody's dream after that. This is all they felt they ever wanted to do. And they come to see this and be a part of the behind the scenes and see how hard it is and they just they're not ready for it. They don't see that side of them. So it's it is a lot of hours, a lot of hard work. And the guys have a way better now than in the beginning. I used to work on the truck. I would fix the truck. I would jump out put a battery charger on it during the show. Then get back out unhook it and get back in the truck and do my race pass or my Freestyle, then after the show was over, I was the guy taking the tires off loaded up in the trailer. Then I was jumping in the Freightliner and driving the Freightliner you know, right as soon as I get my CDL I was illegally then driving this Freightliner across the nation and I did that for quite some time. And until I guess everybody realized we're working 20 hours and it wasn't safe. So then they made a start flying from event to event which we all hated in the beginning. But now you know, you know the all the crews get flown from one event to the next day in nice hotels. And but it's not. It's not easy. They still work some long, hard hours, man, there's a lot of people behind the scenes. I'm just one of the faces that's out in the front just tearing crap up. And those guys and girls are the ones that make it happen though.
Jeremy Perkins 10:43
Yeah, it's it's pretty. It's pretty cool. We got we got some insight into a couple of our sponsorships that we've done with NASCAR and the truck series that we're gonna be sponsoring this year. And then same with our snow cross team on the snowmobile side of things, and you're right, I mean, the snow cross team, definitely. It from, from team owner, to coaches to everything. I mean, they're grilling, they're driving, they're, they're packing everything away. They're fixing it, they're wiping down machine. So it's definitely a family affair. And it's all hands on deck. On the NASCAR side of things. Yeah, at the end of the day, there's so much prep into just loading the cars up, getting it packed up and getting it to the next venue. Seven days, you know, most most you got to get across country, sometimes it's a different truck or a different car or truck, depending on what what track you're running. And then you got to get it up. You got to get it running, you got to get a qualified, you got to do all that stuff. So I assume it's the same same way you guys, I mean, packing a monster truck across the United States probably isn't pretty easy.
Adam Anderson 11:44
No, no, it's it's a lot. It's a lot of work. I mean, they got it down to a science that because I can tell you this, when we go to that venue, you first get there, you're excited, you're pumped, the whole team's ready for battle, then you've just drank, you've drained yourself with all the prep work leading up to the event, then the event happens, everybody's running on adrenaline. And then whether you know, you're in the back and you're thrashing to get the truck back out on the track. So You wrecked in the first couple rounds of racing, but you want to come back to freestyle. And it's just like, using everything you got. And then at the end of the night, it's time to load up. You don't want to be in the way that's all I'm gonna say you don't want to be in the way because when you got to 750 pound tire that is just flying by going in the trailer and there's eight of them two trucks, all the spare motors, all this stuff. Don't get in the way, man, they're gonna be loaded up and gone in less than an hour. And they got a mess on their hands. When they get to the next venue. They get to the next venue that truck driver takes over that truck. When you see it there, man, you open the doors up, you got to be easy. You gotta watch yourself, make sure nothing's coming out on you.
Jeremy Perkins 12:43
So that brings me that's another point I was just trying to figure out is when you're when you're inside so I've heard I think Sports Illustrated did this a while back on a NASCAR driver being one of the most athletic and most fit of athletes out there. And a lot of people were like, oh, you know, football track. All this stuff. But you guys are in a fire suit. You guys are hot, very little ventilation, right? And then the stuff that you're doing within the vehicle is unreal. You're fighting the thing the whole time. When you get out of that, like Are you exhausted? Or is it just like you're ready to go on to the next thing.
Adam Anderson 13:18
Your adrenaline as you're driving your body of pure adrenaline. It really is. I can't say I know. I'm not the most fit person. I can take a beatin. I know that. But I but I am I'm the I'm the dad bod special man. And I think I'm just like home grown corn fed, ready to take a boat weapon power. And that's all I got going for me, you know, and but it's the adrenaline rush. But once that crash comes down to when you come off that adrenaline rush and it takes a couple hours for you to finally come off of it. You get back to that until you're finally just chilling out. And then you know it's next thing you know, it's two in the morning because you can't get asleep after you've been up since you know five in the morning. But then you crash after that. And then Monday's Dude, you are dragging your whole body you feel like you feel like everyone like your shoulders have been pulled out a socket, put back in, you know your legs, you don't know what your legs and feet have hit in the truck. And so you get like two days to kind of ease back into it. And if you're lucky, and then it's right back to it again. Let's do it all over again. So the beginning of the season, I'm not too tough. Midway You better not mess with me at the end of it. I'm Iron Man.
Jeremy Perkins 14:24
So so how do you prep for that? I mean, obviously there's a lot more safety features now than then your father had I don't know how far they've come. If you're still getting your ass kicked in the cab of the truck. Versus I mean, frickin Dale Earnhardt in the whole Halo system to now yeah. I mean, I've seen the impacts of NASCAR drivers now and they're walking away from chips. They never should have walked away from Yeah, So walk me through some of that stuff is you know, are you how do you how do you prep your body? You know, how do you recover? and maybe even some of the new safety features that you guys use.
Adam Anderson 15:03
I'd say like so. So there, they have definitely upgraded I think my dad had bucket seats out of a T bird, indoor, outdoor, indoor outdoor carpet and a track player. And he might have had a lap belt, I think, and then a lot of old pictures, a lot of the old pictures from back in the day. And this is like old leaf spring truck, you could see, you would look in the truck and you couldn't see him, it's because he was all the way in the roof of the truck. And all you can see was like his hip bone and the door and the window or whatever, but, but he actually said, you know, in these later years that it definitely hurt worse, because of what the different things that we're doing now and how big regard with the trucks and even though the safety equipment has surpassed back then by so much, all it does is push us harder. If I drove like I did 10 years ago, with the safety equipment I have now I wouldn't feel anything I would be okay. But all that all the extra safety equipment is doing is giving us that much more, I guess, you know, we it's given us power superpowers until I like I said the next day, man and it's just, you just feel I consider myself a banana. Like, I'm just starting to like just starting to turn you know, and it's the next day you kind of soared and the next it's a little bit worse than but then after that it's time to make a sandwich out of and you're gonna make a comeback.
Jeremy Perkins 16:21
So that's crazy. That's crazy. So, you know, what, what, what kind of values you need to get into, at least on the technician side in the shop. You know, what are you looking for, for for somebody that really wants to be in the sport? And and maybe they have what it takes but like what would what values would you look for in in that kind of new and upcoming person,
Adam Anderson 16:47
you know, for myself personally is just the the guy that has common sense, because the trucks are so big that the simplicity of them is there for a reason. There's some stuff that is not complicated, you know, and we have a lot of new guys coming in while you know running the EFI and all that stuff tuning all that stuff, all I got to do is tell him, Hey, man, this thing is, is losing, losing it on top end, and then he just pokes a computer up to fix it. So that's him, but the good old boys that worked on the farm, and they always strive to be any kind of any kind of mechanics at all, you can work on these things, the simplicity of this very, I can say it's very intimidating when you first come into it. But there's nothing to be intimidated about. Besides, you know, besides failing, that's the biggest intimidation that we have is failing the truck not being able to compete to move on to the next competition. So we can go out and perform for everybody, man, and a lot of the younger people now and it makes it so much easier having technical schools behind us because we can send them down the right path. And before you know, where do you go, they like hey, how do we get a job? Like, fill out an application? You know? And that's it. But what not, that's that's a kid coming fresh out of high school that has no life experiences, no training, no nothing. So guys go into some of those technical schools. We do look for those now. And because they have a little bit of that stuff behind them. And it helps big time, but just a common knowledge man being involved in motorsports in any way. Bring it on, you can do it. Yeah,
Jeremy Perkins 18:20
no, that's good. That's good. You know, I've mentioned in previous podcasts, I went to Universal Technical Institute, and they had the whole NASCAR thing. And that's right. Yeah. It really wasn't for me, because I was actually having a family at the time. So I was like, the circus is over. I'm not traveling, but yeah, it was just kinda like, are those things for real? Now, that was kind of one of the one of the things that I never, I guess if I was younger, I would have gone down that route to see if it was actually what it said it was. But I was wondering if, you know, those things really actually pan out when they when they advertise
Adam Anderson 18:56
all the technical technical stuff. Yeah, it actually has more. So I have asked, it's always been a pawn. I can't say it's a pawn for me. It's it, but it is, it's like, I get the question all the time. I want to I want to work for the crew. And it's like, you know, I hear it every other person maybe, you know, middle aged guys coming through. And it's just like, I know, man, I wish I could take everybody I do but I can't you know, and they asked how to be a part of it. They want to drive the trucks and everybody in the world wants to drive it. So it's like the hardest. It's not the hardest thing to find somebody is the hardest thing is to find the right person. So that's what I tell people. If you go build a name for yourself in any other sport, or motorsport, you can bring it over then that's honestly what like Monster Jam the series is looking for. But that's also for the technicians too. If you build a name for yourself within one of these technical schools, there's multiple people that have been on our teams. Are they all the greatest? No, because maybe they got all the book smarts and they're really intelligent, but they didn't have the common sense or the actual knowledge behind them. And when you get That combination man, you got somebody some of our best technicians actually did go to the UNH school that actually sponsors a series now and it was pretty. It was pretty good. There's some crazy ones that we've got out of it. But man, there's crazy people everywhere.
Jeremy Perkins 20:14
It's crazy people everywhere. So that pretty much wraps up monster trucks that pretty much wraps up everything that you've done up to this point. But outside of all this craziness, how do you unwind what what do you go do?
Adam Anderson 20:30
Man I have an addiction to anything with tires. Basically, I'm sitting in my my someone who my man cave in my house, it's a disaster. And because I haven't been home, we only get two days a week home from now until July. And so it's it's tough. But my Dixon's addiction is trucks man, I come home. My wife is a flight medic, so she goes on 24 hour shifts and all that stuff. So it's great, I don't have to deal with her. She's gone. I do have to deal with my kids. And I'm bummed. So I come out to my shop, I work on my trucks for no reason. Like, it's my second job. And then I also am addicted to Facebook marketplace horribly bad. So just random trucks I have actually right now like out in front of my shop that I've been working on is like I picked up at six shortbed didn't need it at all just saddled up here with seeing that my wife would not recognize that she figured it out. But then also got to 1980 things to 83 Male Jeep out there that I'm working on at the same time. So that's all I'm doing man is just pin with that. And
Jeremy Perkins 21:29
those guys if I can iron Duke motors in it, right? Yes, it does. Yes,
Adam Anderson 21:33
it does. And right now, I had it running me and the kids were driving it around stuff. I put bass boat seats all in the back of it and took the tray for the mail out. And we're riding all around. And I don't know, I think we jumped it over this hill. And I think I messed something up in the fuel tank, I broke the pickup off or something. I got to drop the tank. But I'm creating work for myself. And then also my kids turn crap up so I have to work on their stuff. I get phone calls, I'll get phone calls in the middle of the show. My kids take out the cyber side. They're young man. They're great. Their grandmother thinks it's okay for me to write all this stuff because I let them while I'm here the tires are blown off of them. Golf Carts stuck in the woods and like the golf cart does not leave the garage and it's not even why's it out there. And my mom thinks it's okay. Like No mom. It's not
Jeremy Perkins 22:17
just kind of the ship we used to do.
Adam Anderson 22:19
100% It's understanding it is and I'm just letting them figure out they did pump tires and stuff, but it's just a real pain in the ass.
Jeremy Perkins 22:27
I get shit all over the house and say I get the four wheeler going. I mean, oh yeah. At one point in time, my son ran my daughter over with the floor. Oh,
Adam Anderson 22:38
my kid did it to my oldest. Well, my eldest jumped at the little ramp and landed right into my other son and broke his leg because the other son was running across the track to catch a toad. And like Alright, cool. Yep. So there it is. And he's got a broken leg. Perfect, man.
Jeremy Perkins 22:57
So it sounds like unwinding isn't really unwinding when you gotta
Adam Anderson 23:01
house it's not dude, I come out to my shop. And I do have a recliner sit. I just closed the doors and turn the lights off and cry myself to sleep man.
Jeremy Perkins 23:09
I just I just telling my family I got a podcast I gotta go to. Yeah. Awesome. Awesome. So if anybody wants to learn more about the monster truck, world, or even potentially how to get into it, which sounds like it's definitely tough to do but still doable. If anybody wanted to find any more information out on you, the family, the team? Where could they reach out to you what platforms
Adam Anderson 23:37
definitely going, you know, through monster jam.com is across the board, we'll have all the info for finding your routes to any of the technical, technical school stuff or being a part of it, even applying for jobs within Monster Jam, whether it's in production side, down and even to the crew. But then also just following us on all the different social platforms. Almost all of mine or Adam Anderson underscore GD hit me up on Instagram and stuff with any questions and stuff too. I answer as many as I can and but all across the board in the rest of families on there, too. We're all attached somehow, some way so you can't miss us. And so will you know, we're just regular people man just still playing with trucks though.
Jeremy Perkins 24:19
Oh, yeah. Thanks for being on. This was this was a pleasure to get get down and dirty with lead legendary and legacy. Monster Truck driver.
Adam Anderson 24:30
No, I appreciate it, man. Thanks for having me on.
Jeremy Perkins 24:33
And as a special thanks to our loyal listeners. Were giving $10 off your next purchase of $60 or more at brunch, workwear.com Use Discount Code bucket talk. And that's bucket talk. 10
Adam Anderson, although being brought up in the shadow of his father, has made quite a name for himself in the monster truck industry. He became only the fourth person in history to win a monster jam world title in both freestyle and racing. Safe to say Adam can hold his own out there.
We get an inside look at the start to his career being a mechanic on these big rigs and transitioning into driving, operating and entertaining in these massive machines. Adam explains his love for the shop and his addiction to being a mechanic and always working on something.
Anderson has held about every position you can in this industry, even took a turn at the corporate level and just about logged into his business computer once or twice. Safe to say the office wasn’t for him. He preferred spending his time helping turn a wrench or give guidance wherever needed in the shop. Being born into something that became his passion, Adam gives Jeremy the inside scoop on staying the course, balancing family and career, and the wild life of a monster truck racer/entertainer.