When I heard the lineup was out for the March 2013 third annual Monster Jam at the Carrier Dome in Syracuse, New York, there was one name I was looking for: Joe Sylvester driving Bad Habit. Joe beat the Guinness Book World Record for the longest jump with a 10,000-pound Monster Truck in 2010, by jumping 208 feet. He is on his way to the Monster Jam 2013 World Finals in Las Vegas this month after qualifying for the Young Guns Shootout. I love watching Joe race and do his jumps in freestyle, but that is only one big reason why I was hoping he would come back to the Dome. At the first ever Carrier Dome Monster Jam, I got to meet Joe at the pit party. I interviewed several drivers that afternoon and Joe was the one that wanted my business card, believe it or not, and I had one thanks to my mom (I was 12). He watched the interview up on SIKIDS.com and we have stayed in touch ever since.
Joe is the kind of down to earth fun guy you want to know more about, and you want him to WIN because of it. Since age 5, he has had a passion for anything with a motor and participated in every type of motor sport he could through his teen years. His mom was relieved when he wanted to start racing something with a roll cage around him after several years and several injuries in motocross. In his some 40,000 miles a year on the road, he pulls out in his big rig with his crew chief, usually his girlfriend, and of course Xena and Nitro, his two American pit bulls. By the way, his girlfriend is a beautiful and talented racer, he says with a :) smiley face.
As a teen, Joe passed his driver’s test on the first try with a perfect score. He has never been pulled over for speeding in his big rig but in his street vehicle he says, “I have, but not nearly as often as I should.” When I asked him what it is like to see his toy truck in stores, he said “I usually buy them because they come out in the stores before Hot Wheels even sends us any!” He does sometimes watch Monster Truck races on YouTube or TV to see runs from different camera angels to learn about his competition.
Whenever you ask Joe about Monster Jam it seems like he just wants to make sure he does good for the fans. What he enjoys about big stadiums like the Carrier Dome is, “They are always fun because there are so many people and the track is big, so we can really put on a good show.” He tweeted right before coming out to race, “Ready to tear it up in Syracuse tonight for @monsterjam.” Staged for racing up against Maximum Destruction, he cut a tire on turn four, flipped it, got on the throttle, and brought it back up on all fours.
Fans that come out for the crashes were cheering, but my stomach did that funny thing that you can’t stop. All you want to see is him come out of the truck. Like normal, he gave a couple of big waves to the crowd like “hope you guys liked it.” That got even bigger cheers from the just over 36,400 fans that packed the Dome on the Syracuse University hill. I thought he was done for the night, and he sat right by his broken truck on the edge of the track for what seemed like forever until the front end loader came to tow him off. Nope, not this guy. He grabbed a piece of his hood that fell and carried it off. I guess when you are the one who builds your own trucks you just fix it yourself right on the track’s edge and be ready for freestyle. He scored a 21 with two bonus points in freestyle and put on an awesome show – of course.
I asked him about high school, he remembered that that he stayed busy and away from drugs and alcohol and concentrated his energy on positive things like racing, working, and training in the gym. “I was an adrenaline junky, hooked on the rush of going fast and doing extreme things.” His advice for kids is, “Always follow your dreams and don't be afraid to work hard. Nothing great ever comes without sacrifice and don't ever let anything stand in the way of your goals.”
You can follow him on Twitter @badhabittruck and he might re-tweet your fan posts because he does that sometimes. Or you can tweet him and ask him to go for another world record because someone just beat his 208 feet. He is planning another jump and says “It will be spectacular and a lot bigger than the last one!” Or wish him luck in Vegas on March 22 and 23. His crew chief and he are concentrating on the truck set up because it is a long, fast track and they are testing different gears to be the fastest out of Thunder Alley.
I am so glad he came back to the Dome; I just wanted to see him in person. You can too, because he goes to the pit party before a show and signs autographs after.