Charlie Pauken - Grave Digger - Columbus - 2014
(Photo Courtesy of Jeremy Puglisi - AllMonster.com)

In 2014, Monster Jam's motto is "As Big As It Gets" and Charlie Pauken took that to heart with his opening weekend in Columbus, Ohio behind the wheel of the Grave Diger. Pauken had a spectacualr weekend in the results column, dominating all three disciplines of racing, wheelies, and freestyle. While Friday night saw some fuel issues prevent Pauken and Grave Digger from participating in racing, they did pick up the wheelie and freestyle victories. With two events on Saturday, Pauken picked up right where he left off with a wheelie contest win, two racing wins, and two more freestyle victories for a weekend sweep of freestyle.

While the victories are always enjoyable, Charlie Pauken as well as all of his fellow Monster Jam drivers love to give back to their fans. The following is a story from Kelly Yolanda Rivera and her son Dylan about their time in Columbus and the first time they met Charlie.


Some people just have a way about them; a way of making other people feel special. None of us had ever been to a Monster Jam show before so we really didn't know what to expect, but we never could have imagined what was about to happen that day in Columbus.

We met Charlie Pauken a year earlier on his flight to the Monster Jam World Finals in Las Vegas. He made such an impression on us we swore then we would make one of his shows. I should probably reveal that he never told us who he was, but there was something about him that intrigued me enough to figure it out.

For those of you who don't know Charlie - he is one of the greatest drivers in the history of Monster Jam - a homegrown success and self-made superhero to children and adults alike the world over. He also just happens to be the nicest person I have ever met, or will ever meet for that matter. Of this, I am certain. And he loves Family Guy; you can't help but like him.

Anyway, we no sooner took our seats in the arena when the lights dimmed and the drivers began revving their enormous engines. Oh, they were pretty these gargantuan machines, all flecked-out in shiny paint and regalia fit for a king's court. We saw Iron Man and Samson, Bad News and Spike Unleashed. There were eight trucks in all and they were raring to get tearing! And then, through all the smoke and the mud, over the cheers and jeers came a familiar, oh so familiar sound... "♫ Da da da dada da...Da da da dada da.. On the day I was born ♫..."

The spotlights directed our attention to one corner of the pit; a dark tunnel masked behind the haze of burnt oil and dust. Oh, sweet Mary, what was in that cave? Every eyeball was laser-focused on that spot when two beams of light seared through the blackness from beyond. I half-expected a fire-breathing dragon to spring out and incinerate us all... and I don't think I was alone in that thought. Just then, an earthshaking rumble began to vibrate across the stadium like a tsunami in springtime, "♫ BAD TO THE BONE!!!!! ♫"

"It's CHARLIE!!!" Dylan managed to choke-out. "It's HIM!!!!!!!!!!"

Grave Digger tore into the arena past the other trucks and circled the floor like he owned it - and well - he did! George Thorogood's anthem was playing in my ear, but it was Grave Digger who was pounding in my chest (rib cage... RibCage would be a great name for one of these trucks).

The crowd was mad, frothing at the mouth over that green and purple specter. It was glorious! Charlie wore Grave Digger the way most of us wear a pair of gloves: like a second skin.

Now, I've been to three county fairs and a goat race and I ain't never seen anything like that. Showmanship baby - Charlie knows showmanship!

And all the while, there's Dylan, waving to Charlie as if Charlie could see his little face in that sea of people.

Charlie and Grave Digger put on a show that I can't begin to explain, but it was poetry. And let me tell you, these trucks jump higher and farther than they appear on television. Somehow, depth and distance are lost in that medium. More than once I had to pick my jaw up off the ground. It really couldn't have been any more exciting... or could it?

Charlie was on fire, he was WINNING, when he suddenly announced that he had a very special boy in the audience, a boy he had met on a flight to Las Vegas... a boy who reminded him of his own son. And with that he dedicated his Championship Racing Plaque to Dylan and proceeded to jump into the stands to hand-deliver the award to one gobsmacked little fan.

On the way home, Dylan declared that this day was the BEST day of his ENTIRE life.

So you can pinch me now... and Seth MacFarlane, if you're out there, I do believe an episode with Peter Griffin and Charlie Pauken/Grave Digger is one that will literally write itself."


Thanks to Kelly and Dylan for sharing this great story! The next stop for Charlie and Grave Digger is Hidalgo, Texas next weekend for five events at the State Farm Arena.

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