Max-D's 10th Anniversary Celebrates A Decade Of Maximum Destruction
Jun 25, 2013
As the tenth anniversary season of Max-DSM and a decade of Maximum Destruction® in Advance Auto Parts Monster Jam® continues this is the first of a three part series with 11-time Monster Jam World FinalsSM Champion Tom Meents on the past, present, and future of arguably the sport’s most accomplished and decorated Monster Jam team. This week we begin by looking back at the past 10 years of excellence that has brought us to today’s Max-D, specifically how it was that the name that has become synonymous with World Championships came to be.
Advance Auto Parts Monster Jam® fans have been thrilled by Meents and his teammates in Max-D for the last decade, but before the name Maximum Destruction was on the side of the futuristic SUV Meents had been proving to be a once in a generation superstar no matter what the name was on the side of the piece he was performing in. Once he gave up his mud racing truck to climb into a 10,000 pound Monster Jam truck Meents has been a winner and a huge fan favorite. First in Monster Patrol and then in Bulldozer Meents quickly rose to the top of the sport, and then he rolled into the Monster Jam World Finals era on top from the start driving Goldberg, a machine Tom would pilot to two Monster Jam World Racing Championships and a freestyle title.
2002 became a transition year, with the Goldberg name out of Monster Jam Meents returned to Sam Boyd Stadium in Las Vegas and successfully defended both World Championships, this time with the moniker Team Meents on the side of the truck. By the way, that has not happened at the Monster Jam World Finals since 2002 when Team Meents won what is now known as a Double Down for winning racing and freestyle at the same event. Clearly Team Meents was at the top of the Monster Jam food chain in 2002.
But in 2003 another name change was in store for Meents, but this time the name would stick. Maximum Destruction was born. But why change from Team Meents to Max-D? “Several things went into it,” Meents explained. “One of them was that the Team Meents name was a cool concept, a great idea, but having other drivers in that truck made that part a tough fit. You know, to have somebody else driving a Team Meents truck. So Maximum Destruction seemed like the perfect name because it fit my driving style, it fit Neil’s driving style, and whoever we got after that to get in that truck had to fit that name. The name fits our driving styles and that’s where it has been really successful.”
Max-D was successful right from the start which was critical as Meents looked to again build up another Monster Jam truck name in the sport as its popularity continued to explode. “One of the problems of the transition phase is that you get lost a little bit to the fans. Especially back then, ten years ago,” Meents recalled. “Our fans are really smart now and they are so educated about the sport. They are great followers of the sport and the information is out there so much more now. With all the social media and the internet the way it is now it helps a situation like that where the fans don’t get lost when trucks change and drivers change. But back then you were a lot more likely to get lost if you were in a different named truck than the year before. So even having Max-D as a truck and transitioning that into such a great, perfect wheel for our driving styles it did work, but now it’s been really cool to have that same name for ten years because that has made a heck of a difference.”
Meents had made his name in the sport quickly but was sensitive to the name changes, needing to perform at the highest level to continue the momentum he had built and that was especially true in 2003 as Max-D would not just be Tom Meents, the demand for the truck had grown to the point that the team had to expand and from Meents’ perspective, the name Maximum Destruction was perfect as the team grew in both numbers of trucks and in popularity. He knew it would be difficult to put other drivers into a piece he was making famous, but says one person was crucial to making it all work. “It is a tough fit but you know what, from the very beginning with Neil Elliott it was such an easy deal,” Tom pointed out. “I call him ‘the real deal Neil’ because that’s who he is. He’s been a perfect fit; I didn’t have to work on him at all. He just gets it. He goes with it and if you tell him to do something, like the Max-D encore at the Monster Jam World Finals, he does it. It’s like ‘o-k Neil, go out there and no matter what else you do make sure you back flip your truck and then save it but keep all four tires on it because I need you for the next stunt.’ That’s what he does. If you look at that it was phenomenal. How did that happen? Was it the greatest save ever? Probably. Did it last a long time? Yeah, probably about seven seconds. But that’s just Neil Elliott. He’s 100 percent got it. He’s every bit as good as I am. I’m telling you if I couldn’t have been in the freestyle at the Monster Jam World Finals this year and it had been Neil in it I believe he would have won it.”
Ten years later and Max-D remains at the top level of Advance Auto Parts Monster Jam. Back in 2003, when the first truck sporting the name Maximum Destruction on its side hit the track and began thrilling fans as only Max-D can, Meents admits that when you consider all the previous name changes he had been through, none of the other truck names lasting more than three years for him, that it was hard for him to imagine that this was the theme, this was the image, this was the name that would last, now for a decade. “At the time I certainly wasn’t sure,” Meents admitted. “I mean every name that I had ever come out with I tried to make it a winner right away, I mean at the very first show. And I’ve been very successful at that. So all of my focus at that time was to say ‘hey, it’s me, it’s Tom Meents, and I’m in a different vehicle, I’m in Maximum Destruction now’ and I wanted to win to make sure everybody knew that it was me. But no, looking back, all of the other truck names only lasted a few years so I could not have imagined that this one would still be going strong 10 years later. I’m very excited about that because it’s very identifiable to all of the Monster Jam fans and it’s cool that the fans know all three of the Max-D drivers.”
So that’s the past, the history of what has become one of the most famous and popular trucks in Monster Jam history. Next time we’ll look at Max-D and the Decade of Maximum Destruction in the present.