When Joe Sylvester began driving monster trucks in 2006, he wanted to tackle a challenging power sport that also valued driver safety. Sylvester had previously participated in freestyle motocross where he sustained more than fifteen concussions, a broken back and numerous other internal injuries.
“After riding motocross for several years and going through all the injuries, I decided I needed to do something different.” said Sylvester.
“I wanted to do something that was still crazy, but just have a cage around me.”
Joe was introduced to monster truck racing in early 2006, and after spending several months learning the ropes at team shops in Tennessee and Indiana, he founded the Bad Habit Monster Truck team out of his hometown of Boardman, Ohio.
Sylvester’s truck stands 12 feet wide by 11 feet tall, weighing in at just over 10,000 pounds and can produce 1,200 horsepower.
“It’s just like being inside a race car …
just really high off the ground”
||“We fly 35 feet in the air and land flat on the ground – there’s really no other vehicle in the world that can withstand that type of punishment. For a while, drivers were going toward light weight trucks, but with the way the obstacles are now, we had to start beefing up the axles, chassis and roll cages in order to absorb the impacts we take.”
Despite the extreme nature of the sport, Sylvester explains that monster truck driving is, in fact, a safe profession for a trained driver. The engineering that goes into the truck components to keep drivers safe is on par with NASCAR and NHRA.
“We have some of the best safety equipment inside these monster trucks, and we need it – they are very violent machines.” Sylvester noted.
“Our seats are built for us, our harnesses are dialed in, we wear a head & neck restraint device, we’ve got on-board fire suppression systems and the tech inspectors check all of our equipment before each show.”
Roll cages play a vital role in keeping drivers safe during competitions and exhibitions. The 2 x .120 in. DOM steel tubes that comprise the cage have to withstand extreme impacts, and in order to avoid failures at the weld, sound joint integrity is crucial. Joe and his team rely on the Lincoln Electric POWER MIG® 255XT when fabricating the truck at their team headquarters.
“That welder is worth its weight in gold. We build our own shocks and chassis right here in the shop so that thing is constantly running.“
His team also uses the Precision TIG® 275 for thin components such oil pans, and the Ranger® 250 Engine Driven Welder helps them for a variety of tasks when they’re on the road and remote power is required.
We recently caught up with Joe in between competitions and learned more about his operation.
In April of this year, Joe put the Bad Habit roll cage to the test while performing at Monster Spectacular in Montreal’s Olympic Stadium.
“Coming off a jump I landed upside down on the cage, and it went through the dirt and hit the concrete. That impact took the DOM tubing and folded it up like a taco.”
Despite this damage, the welds held, and Joe was able to walk away from the crash.
This wreck provided Joe the opportunity to redesign the Bad Habit body. His team recently finished constructing the new truck, and unveiled it at Monsters on the Beach, on the Virginia Beach oceanfront.
Check out more information on Joe and the Bad Habit team, plus get their schedule by visiting http://www.badhabit4x4.com.
Lincoln Electric is the exclusive welder of Bad Habit.