By MARK NEWMAN
Courier staff writer
---- — OTTUMWA --- Drivers sat at one end of their vehicles during the "pit party," meeting fans and signing autographs before the motorsport and monster truck exhibition at Bridge View Center this weekend.
Monster truck driver Orville Hill let kids --- and an occasional parent--- climb on his vehicle during a meet and greet Saturday. Fans were able to check out multiple vehicles before the carnage began at the Spring Nationals Monster Trucks and Motorsports Spectacular. Hill, from Ocala, Florida, said meeting the crowd is one of his favorite parts of these events. When kids were too shy to come over, he went to them. And he showed them how to pose for the numerous moms and dads with their cell phone cameras snapping away. After a few minutes, kids were laughing and imitating Hill's thumbs-up pose.
Most drivers seemed to like the interaction.
"I'm all about this part of it," Hill confirmed.
He added that while the Bridge View Center stadium might not be quite as large as some venues in big cities, the drivers would be able to give fans a great show. One spectator said the advantage at a place like this is that the audience is lot closer to the climbing, crushing and roaring monsters.
Hill's vehicle is called OutOfControl: It has 1,400 horsepower, the equivalent of more than 10 Toyota Prius engines --- only louder.
Reporter Mark Newman is on Twitter @couriermark. A few more pit party photos will be posted to the Courier reprint site, "Smug Mug," this week.