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Q&A: Monster Jam driver Matt Cody talks about life behind the wheel

From a young age, Matt Cody knew he would somehow be involved in the beautiful (and dangerous) world of monster trucks.

“I fell in love with it and I would watch it on TV and learn everything about the trucks and just study them,” he said.

Cody grew up in Hagerstown, Maryland, and the Monster Jam tour would stop in town every summer. This quickly became an annual gift for him since it always occurred around his birthday.

His best friend’s brother worked for a Monster Jam team. Cody started working with Black Stallion and Vaters Motorsports. He was in charge of sweeping floors, cleaning trucks and selling merchandise at events.

Following his high school graduation in 2011, he stayed on the road and got the opportunity to be crew chief for a few trucks he worked on. Always wanting to be a driver, he waited for an opportunity. For two years following, he only got to drive on certain occasions but in 2014 was picked to start doing more with Monster Jam.

A decade later, he’s behind the wheel almost every weekend.

When he’s not in his monster truck, he’s driving freight trucks throughout the country Monday through Wednesday and balancing life with his wife and four kids.

He’s had the opportunity to drive several vehicles, including the Iron Warrior, Blue Thunder, Black Stallion and others. Since 2023, Cody has been the driver of the legendary Grave Digger. Known for its daring crashes and out-of-this-world tricks, it’s among the most notable Monster Jam trucks alongside El Toro Loco and Max-D.

He’ll be in Evansville on Saturday and Sunday with several other drivers as they freestyle and race to show who is the best of the best. There will be two shows on Saturday at 1 p.m. and 7 p.m.; and one show Sunday at 2 p.m.

The Courier & Press spoke with Cody in advance of the weekend shows.

Who are your role models?

Mike Vaters, he’s always been a father figure to me.

Do you have a favorite city that you stop in or have stopped in?

Monster Jam doesn’t do it anymore but the Hagerstown Speedway in my hometown was my favorite, by far. They stopped doing an event in 2021 but I got to do it in 2015, 2018, and 2021. And it was awesome because growing up I sat there and watched it my whole life, and to be down there and to win a couple of events was pretty cool.

How do you think that you’ve had such a successful career?

Just hard work, determination, and willingness to change the game just like anything in sports.

What is your favorite trick to do? And how do you get over doing such tricks when you’re in the driver’s seat?

Nose wheelies are cool when you can balance on the front tires and walk in backward or upwards on the wheel. Also, I love the backflip ramp, and nothing cooler than a 12,000-pound Monster Jam truck hitting the backflip ramp and rotating around right in front of your face.

You gotta look past it. If you don’t have some nerves or you’re not scared of it, you’re not really having too much fun. I always have some pre-event butterflies but once the event starts and the engines fire up, you’re out there in the moment and you just forget about it.

What advice would you give to kids who are in the same spot you were?

Follow your dream. I was once that kid in the stands dreaming of it. I worked hard for it and had the right opportunities that I ran with. If you set your goals and fight for them, you can achieve a lot.