Local Driver leads Monster Jam® to East Rutherford April 23
The return of Monster Jam® to MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey, will signal another great opportunity for competitors to showcase their talents. The April 23 event will mark the fifth appearance at the stadium.
The 2016 field will include the first-ever New Jersey appearance for the VP Racing Fuels’ Mad Scientist, one of the newest Monster Jam trucks to hit the circuit. Since its beginning, the truck has only been driven by Lee O’Donnell and this event marks another significant happening in O’Donnell’s career.
A native of Bayonne, New Jersey, mere minutes from the stadium location, O’Donnell started with Monster Jam in 1999, racing and winning with different trucks through the first 10 years of competition. In 2012, he was part of the first MetLife event, making the semi-finals in racing and finishing fifth in freestyle. The next year, he made the racing finals, losing to fast qualifier Linsey Weenk, who used lane choice to his advantage. O’Donnell finished third in a competitive freestyle.
His third appearance at the stadium will come this year and it stands to provide some vindication for the years of effort that have been put into off-road racing and Monster Jam. “I have been grateful for the opportunities to drive the other trucks,” said O’Donnell, “but this year, the support from VP has been really gratifying. They have been with me every weekend. They have been supporting the truck, the team and me in every way possible. This is the pinnacle of what racers strive for, to have a sponsor that is so supportive and to bring this to my home stadium is a great feeling.”
“Having the support of VP allows me to show some of the doubters around here what can be done,” he added. “I grew up in New Jersey and the off-road racing was in places like Wisconsin and Southern California, so people didn’t think we could make it. Now, we have this to show for it.”
In 2016, O’Donnell has driven the VP Racing Fuels’ Mad Scientist to victory at Petco Park in San Diego as well as Tucson Arena and narrowly missed at Angels Stadium in Anaheim. The winning ways are nothing new, but a continuation of achievement that will be on display on April 23.
Last year, Lee O’Donnell was a spectator for this event since his previous truck was not part of the 2015 lineup. It was a different experience. “Your emotions change throughout the day,” he said. “There’s no pressure early, it’s pretty relaxed, then you see the guys on the track and holding the trophy and you want to be there. I go there to support my friends. My kids are still fans, too.”
This year, the kids will be cheering louder than ever, this time for the VP Racing Fuels’ Mad Scientist. They’ll be joined by friends and family, who will make the short trip to the Meadowlands, and the crowd may include some of those who never expected the success to come this far. If seeing is believing, April 23 will give everyone another chance to believe.