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Monster Jam trucks ‘El Toro Loco,’ ‘Grinder’ visit Farmingdale school

Farmingdale High School automotive technology students get an

Farmingdale High School automotive technology students get an up-close look at one of two monster trucks stationed at their school Tuesday before the trucks appear in the 2012-13 Advance Auto Parts Monster Jam Tour shows at Nassau Coliseum this weekend. Students had the opportunity to learn about various components of the trucks and how they are prepared and repaired for each show by Monster Jam mechanics and team personnel. (Jan. 22, 2013) Credit: Barry Sloan

If there was a passenger-side door on the El Toro Loco Monster Jam truck, Jon Olszewski’s head would have barely reached it as he paced the length of the truck and explained to his students some of its more impressive features.

The dual shocks have 26 inches of travel suspension, the Farmingdale High School automotive technology teacher told them, which enable the Monster Jam truck drivers to launch their vehicles 20 to 30 feet in the air and slam into the ground without breaking their backs.

He gave them an analogy to get the point across.

“This could roll right over your Honda Civic the same as if your Honda Civic was going over a speed bump,” he said. “It would be pretty nice to take one of these on the expressway during rush hour, right? No traffic, go right over them.”

El Toro Loco was one of two Monster Jam trucks parked in the Farmingdale High School auto body shop this week in preparation for their Nassau Coliseum stop on the 2012-13 Advanced Auto Parts Monster Jam Tour Jan. 25-27. It was joined by Advanced Auto Parts Grinder.

The students got to meet the crew of each truck and watch them make preparations for the show.

Olszewski said it’s an opportunity for the students to see the celebrities of the automotive world up close and personal, but also an opportunity for the crew to work on the trucks indoors rather than in the Coliseum parking lot or in tents. The trucks will be at the school through Thursday.

“The kids obviously get to check out how much time and effort goes into these trucks before the race,” Olszewski said. “They realize it’s not just a matter of pulling them out of a trailer, jumping over some cars, putting them back in and going on to the next show.”

Nathan Kirshein, 18, of Farmingdale, said he was surprised to see how big the trucks’ tires were and learn about the power of the shocks. He said seeing the trucks up close was a much different experience than seeing them on TV.

He also appreciated that it was a rare opportunity.

“There’s no other town really that’s doing this,” he said. “This is pretty cool for a high school thing. Seeing it up close is pretty cool.”

Nicholas Catalano, 17, of Farmingdale, said Olszewski let them know the trucks were coming, but actually seeing them far exceeded his expectations.

“When they started up the engine, I knew it was loud from when I’m at a stadium watching them at the Coliseum, but being right up next to them, I need double ear plugs. They’re really loud,” he said.

Catalano said he used to watch Monster Jam when he was younger, so seeing them at his school shone a new light on a childhood interest.

“It’s really cool to see at my high school,” he said. “It was a great experience from being a little kid to now growing up and actually learning this stuff.”

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