The 2016 Budweiser Monster Truck Spring Nationals are taking place this weekend at the Stanislaus County Fairgrounds, but for Jeff Souza of Denair, the event is especially significant. Souza has been actively participating in monster truck competitions for a few years now, but this weekend marks the first time that he will compete alongside his son, Hunter Souza.
Hunter is a mini monster truck driver and operates the Wrecking Machine – a pint-sized but powerful truck that has earned him the reputation of being a “heavy hitter.” While he has competed in competitions all over the West Coast, this will be the first event that his dad is also driving in.
“It’s always been both of our dreams to compete together, and this is our home town, too,” said Hunter.
For Jeff, competing himself is only half the fun.
“Just sitting there watching (Hunter), I get an adrenaline rush,” said Jeff.
Hunter’s interest in monster truck driving came from watching his father, who described the activity as being in Hunter’s blood.
“He didn’t have a choice,” said Jeff with a smile. “He’s been in the shop late nights with us when the trucks are at his house, so he didn’t know any better.”
Thirteen-year-old Hunter has exceeded his father’s expectations when it comes to his driving skills. Jeff hopes to have him in a full-sized monster truck by age 15. In his last competition, Hunter did a lot of damage to his truck, which Jeff credits to his knowledge of the sport.
“He comes out and he knows what he’s doing,” said Jeff. “He’s watched all the heavy hitters. He’s doing good and we’re proud of him.”
For Hunter, spinning donuts and jumping in the Wrecking Machine is the best part about monster truck driving.
“It’s always an adrenaline rush,” said Hunter.
The 2016 Budweiser Monster Truck Spring Nationals are being held at the Stanislaus County Fairgrounds at 7:30 p.m. today. The gates open at 6:30 p.m. and tickets can be purchased online through WGASmotorsports.com.