For over 35 years, Steve Quercio and his family have been the “mom-and-pop” experts of crashing, smashing and flame-belching thanks to their Monster Truck Thunder business that has entertained fans from Victorville to the East Coast.
But when the COVID-19 pandemic struck last year and entertainment venues were shuttered, monster truck shows were also canceled. The Quercios, who reside in Oak Hills, said they lost an estimated $1 million in projected revenue as a result.
This week, though, an excited Quercio told the Daily Press the Monster Truck Thunder show will return for two shows at the San Bernardino County Fairgrounds in Victorville.
“The truck show is going to be the first event to run at full capacity at the fairgrounds since this pandemic hit last year,” said Quercio, 67. “We’ll be back at the fairgrounds on July 16th and 17th for two nights of thundering excitement for the whole family.”
Each show will feature six acts, with four to five “Bad Boy Monster Trucks” flying over 30 feet in the air, performing giant power wheelies and other acts such as the “Hollywood Stunt Show,” Quercio said.
“We’ll also have our popular Fire Chief Jet Fire Truck that will blast fire out its rear and melt a car to the ground,” Quercio said. “It’s quite a sight, and the fans really love it.”
The Fire Chief is powered by a Westinghouse J-34 Jet Engine from a World War II “Banshi” fighter plane that produces over 7,000 pounds of thrust.
“Fans who come early will have a chance to ride a monster truck,” said Quercio, who is also inviting drivers to showcase their Tuff Trucks, Razors, quads, buggies, quads, motorcycles and off-road vehicles on the dirt track at the fairgrounds.
“We want to give people a chance to get behind the wheel and show off what they got,” Quercio said. “Drivers just need to show up to the fairground’s back gate before the show and we’ll give them directions.”
Quercio said he expects about 4,000 monster truck fans each night to fill the grandstand at the fairgrounds.
Monster Truck Thunder
Monster Truck Thunder is owned by Quercio and his wife, Jill, who moved from Simi Valley to the High Desert nearly 30 years ago. The couple recently celebrated their 47th wedding anniversary.
“My wife works the ticket booth. My son, Tony, is in charge of merchandise sales, and my 17-year-old grandson, Alex, also helps out,” Quercio said. “We’re a small mom-and-pop business that works with big trucks that perform in big shows.”
As the second-largest monster truck promoter in the nation, the Quercios have produced up to 80 major motorsport events across the U.S. in major and secondary markets.
Some of their events have featured popular monster trucks such as Bigfoot, Bounty Hunter and Grave Digger.
The biggest monster truck show the family ever organized was at Aloha Stadium in Honolulu. The event drew an estimated 75,000 fans.
“That was a big undertaking with a lot of trucks,” Quercio said. “Many of the trucks had to be stored in shipping containers and delivered across the ocean by cargo ship.”
Quercio said when the COVID-19 pandemic hit the U.S. last year, the roar of the crowd, the thundering sound of monster trucks and the cash register all went silent.
In March 2020, the Quercios had already prepared their show in Victorville when SBC Fair CEO Jennifer Monter called and told the family the show had been canceled because of COVID-19 restrictions put in place by the state of California.
At that time, Gov. Gavin Newsom announced an executive order that shut down entertainment venues, fairs, theme parks and most major sporting venues.
”We already had trucks on the ground for our show scheduled on March 14, 2020, at the fairgrounds in Victorville,” Quercio said. “Our show was the first event to get canceled the week COVID hit.”
Then — like a bunch of falling dominoes —the Quercios were forced to cancel the remaining 25 shows scheduled throughout 2020.
“COVID-19 shut down the entertainment industry and put a lot of people out of work,” Quercio said. “Like many businesses, we struggled because we weren’t eligible for PPP (Paycheck Protection Program) money or government funding.”
To make ends meet, the family gave people rides on Fire Chief for a small fee, according to Quercio, who said the venture ended when code enforcement “chased them out” of the parking lot of Super Target in Hesperia.
“We’re not like Monster Jam that plays huge arenas and has money stored away in the bank for a rainy day or a pandemic,” Quercio said. “We’re just glad to be back doing what we do best — providing a mind-blowing monster truck show for the fans.”
Gates to the Monster Truck Thunder show open at 5 p.m. with the show starting at 7:30 p.m. July 16 and 17.
General admission tickets are $19.90 for adults, $13 for children and $25 for VIP, which includes a pit party pass.
Tickets can be purchased at the gate or online at www.MonsterTruckThunder.com. For more information, visit the website, call/text 760 964-5195 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Daily Press reporter Rene Ray De La Cruz may be reached at 760-951-6227 or RDeLaCruz@VVDailyPress.com. Follow him on Twitter @DP_ReneDeLaCruz.