It’s not every day that most people have an opportunity to ride in a monster truck. The world looks a lot smaller, a lot more crushable from 12 feet up, riding on 6 tons of fun with 66-inch tires.
American Thunder Motorsports in rural Albany is your chance to feel the thrill of monster trucking. Currently operating on a donation basis, Ron Leach has more than 20 years of experience putting on motorsports shows, traveling far and wide with his monster truck. He says he’s not in it for the money, just the positivity.
“God is pushing me to keep the good things going,” Leach said. “Every time it starts looking bad, we go out and do something good.”
Leach said he’s driven by the good times the truck creates. He feels compelled by the laughter and love that come from sharing his creation with others. In two decades, he and the truck have been to every state except Hawaii, Australia, all through South America and across Mexico.
The truck was rolled out in 2002. It was built in response to the terror attacks of 9/11. Leach was working at a Palm Harbor Homes cabinet shop at the time. He decided the world needed a little more fun and happiness, and monster trucks were the way to bring it.
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“I couldn’t join the military, so I wanted to do something,” Leach said. “We did the American theme, teamed up with the National Guard in Idaho, Oregon and Washington. … We went to do their deployment parties.”
Leach allowed every uniformed service member who wanted it a chance to drive the monster truck, hoping to implant them with fond memories of home and family to warm them during their challenging moments ahead as warfighters. And he wanted their kids to remember seeing mom or dad behind the wheel of the monster machine, having a blast.
“Monster trucks are just wholesome,” he said. “It’s all about spreading the good cheer.”
The truck was built in the Albany area by Leach and what he said was a support team of smart friends who know a lot about monster trucks. He said the truck is totally safe, with plenty of panic buttons to shut it down and lots of insurance.
In the past, Leach’s daughter, Kendra Dugger, ran the show. She stepped away, focusing on her work as the assistant coach of the South Albany High School wrestling team. She and her father both wrestled in high school.
To schedule an appointment for a ride you can text Leach at 541-990-4090 or find the company on Facebook and send him a message. Due to pandemic conditions, events are arranged for one family at a time. The truck fits eight passengers in its back seats.
Cody Mann covers the cities of Albany and Lebanon. He can be contacted at 541-812-6113 or Cody.Mann@lee.net.
“Monster trucks are just wholesome. It’s all about spreading the good cheer.” ~Ron Leach