Team Grave Digger® driver Rod Schmidt has been behind the wheel of a “black-and-green wrecking machine” for more than a decade, the highlight of a monster truck driving career that dates back to 1992. That was the year that the lifelong Iowan made the move from mud racing to monster trucks; and he’s never looked back, first learning the ropes with his own Witch Doctor truck before getting the opportunity to drive Monster Patrol. Then beginning in 1999, Schmidt moved into his current role, thrilling millions of Advance Auto Parts Monster Jam fans driving Grave Digger. Schmidt is a family man who enjoys the outdoors as well as building and fabricating, and loves to build custom motorcycles. He also is on a stunt sport bike team. Schmidt is a perfect fit to drive for the world’s most popular team since his number-one mission at every event is to make sure all of the fans are thrilled by his performances.
In 2013, Schmidt will
be trading in his Grave Digger green for Monster Mutt® Rottweiler brown as be
becomes the newest driver behind this well known tail waggin’ Monster Jam®
Q&A with Rod Schmidt
MonsterJam.com: How did you get started competing on the Monster Jam® circuit?
Rod Schmidt: I started mud racing with my older brother, Rick, when I was in high school. We raced the “Southside Shaker.” My brother sold the mud truck in order to buy our first monster truck, Witch Doctor, which I began driving in 1992. We expanded and added another truck. In 1997, while on tour, I was offered a spot in the Monster Patrol truck out of Valparaiso, Indiana. I drove Monster Patrol with the Bear Foot team until 1999, when I was hired by Pace Motorsports and was able to drive several trucks over the summer until I landed in the seat of Grave Digger #8 in January 2000. I have driven Grave Diggers #8, #7, #19, #14, and now I currently drive #18. I also like to ride 4-wheelers and motorcycles and I am a member of Stunt DNA, an Iowa-based stunt team that performs street stunts on sport bikes.
MonsterJam.com: What do you enjoy doing while on the road with Monster Jam?
Rod Schmidt: I enjoy meeting all the great fans and seeing the “behind-the-scenes” view of the cities that I visit.
MonsterJam.com: What do you do with your free time?
Rod Schmidt: I spend my free time at my acreage with my family, riding bikes and quads. I also enjoy weight lifting and building custom motorcycles and metal fabrication. My wife and I have recently become licensed foster parents and we like to spend our time with our son and the other children in our home.
MonsterJam.com: What is your greatest memory as a monster truck driver?
Rod Schmidt: Since driving a Grave Digger truck is the greatest job ever, it’s hard to narrow it down to one favorite memory. I think that winning the “Fantastic Award” at the Monster Jam banquet two years ago is my best memory. The fans are the entire reason that we are able to have these awesome jobs and their excitement and dedication are inspiring in tough times. I have made friends all over the country through these fans.
MonsterJam.com: Do you have any pre-show rituals that you run though?
Rod Schmidt: Seventeen jumping jacks and jump on my right foot 10 times. HA! HA! Before introductions, I sit in my truck and envision the track. Also, during the show, I like for my crew guy to leave the door open and then come and shut it when we are all ready to go. It lets me know that all the equipment and crew are clear of the truck and the truck is ready to rock and roll.
MonsterJam.com: If you were not competing on the Monster Jam tour, what career path would you follow?
Rod Schmidt: I would like to build custom bikes.
MonsterJam.com: What’s your favorite food?
Rod Schmidt: Apple pie
MonsterJam.com: What’s your favorite movie?
Rod Schmidt: Grown Ups
MonsterJam.com: What’s your favorite television show?
Rod Schmidt: Survivor
MonsterJam.com: What’s your favorite color?
Rod Schmidt: Black and green
TRUCK INFO • Truck Name: Monster Mutt Rottweiler
• Body: Custom Body
• Engine size: 540 CI
• Transmission: Coan 2-speed
Sponsors: Advance Auto Parts, Arsenault Associates, ARP Automotive Products, Auto Meter, Awesome Racewear, Lucas Oil, Coan, Crower Racing Products, Derale Performance, Energy Suspension, Fel-Pro Performance Gaskets, FK Rod Ends, Hawk Performance, Jaz Products, K & N Filters, King Engine Bearings, Lincoln Welders, Liquid Advanced Technology, Magnaflow Performance, Mechanix Wear, MSD Ignition, NGK Spark Plugs, Optima Batteries, Piloti, TX7, Powermaster, Rockford Rosgate, Speed Pro, Universal Technical Institute, Walker Radiator Works, WISECO, World Products