Monster Trucks on Display

There was a time when major museums across the country were as interesting as page 204 of the Akron phone book. Science museums featured things like a day-by-day look at how seeds become corn, while natural history museums might have displayed the bones of prehistoric squirrels. Thankfully, those days are over, and museums are now exhibiting the kind of things they should be exhibiting... namely, monster trucks!

Chicago's Museum of Science and Industry has just staged the premiere opening of "Monster Trucks: The Science of Extreme Machines," a new one-of-a-kind exhibit on monster trucks and the science behind building and driving them. The exhibit will run through September 1. The 15,000-square-foot display is the beginning a five-year, 12-city tour of major science centers and natural history museums across the United States. It was produced by Clear Channel Exhibitions and is sanctioned by Clear Channel Entertainment - Motor Sports, which stages monster truck events across the country.

The new Monster Trucks exhibit brings together the thrills of this unique brand of motorsports combined with leading-edge science and technology. Kid-friendly interactive displays demonstrate the scientific principles that give these monster machines their remarkable power and still make them safe for drivers and fans alike.

Visitors can climb into the cab of "Grave Digger" -- a superstar of the Monster Jam racing circuit -- and watch video of spectacular crashes from actual monster-truck events. Exhibit-goers also can learn real-life stories of the drivers, many of whom are as interesting as the vehicles themselves. Re-created environments include the Monster Jam Theater, a display area featuring a real monster truck and large-screen video of actual truck crashes, a deconstructed truck drive train and interactive demonstrations of a suspension system in action.

Re-created settings also include hands-on displays of the 66-inch-high Terra Tire, and the "Monster Makeover," which explains the creation of truck artwork. "Safety First" shows how these mammoth machines are made safe for their drivers and spectators.

"This exhibit is extreme science at its best," said Museum of Science and Industry President and CEO David Mosena. "Visitors will truly be surprised by how much science and innovation actually go into this sport, whether they've ever seen a monster truck show before or not."

"This exhibit brings you up close and behind the scenes of Monster Jam. It combines the thrill of the live event with the science of how it all comes to life," said Charlie Mancuso president of Clear Channel Entertainment - Motor Sports.

Tickets for the Chicago exhibition are on sale now with an additional exhibit fee of $5 for adults and $3.50 for children under 12. General admission to the Museum of Science and Industry is $9 for adults, $7.50 for seniors and $5 for children ages 3-11. City of Chicago residents receive a discount on museum general admission. To order tickets, please call 773-684-1414. For additional information, please call 1-800-GO-TO-MSI or visit the Chicago Museum of Science and Industry Web site.

Cleveland-based auto journalist Luigi Fraschini will never forget his childhood visit to the Museum of Science and Industry even though it didn't include monster trucks.