When Todd LeDuc returns home to the West Valley to compete in Monster Jam, there are certain feelings that go along with it.
“You always get goosebumps when you have your hometown show and family and friends are there watching,” LeDuc said.
“It’s not necessarily nerves. I just want to perform well for my local Arizonan friends and family. The biggest thing is the fans can cheer for someone who lives there. It gives a lot of kids and young adults hope. They can be from Phoenix and on the world stage of Monster Jam.”
LeDuc is among the competitors at Monster Jam, which rolls into State Farm Stadium on Saturday, Oct. 5. Besides LeDuc and his rebranded Monster Jam Fire & Ice specialty truck, the “battle of the metal beasts” features Grave Digger and Max-D (driven by 12-time Monster Jam World Finals champion Tom Meents); and the Phoenix truck debut of truck Bakugan Dragonoid.
Monster Jam is one of the only sports where male and female world-class drivers, some generational rivals, are equals competing for the same championship on the same track. Fans can vote for the truck winner in the donut, wheelie and freestyle competitions by real-time, in-arena fan voting on their smartphones.
A five-year Peoria resident, LeDuc recommends arriving early for the Monster Jam Pit Party, which gives fans access to view the trucks up close and meet the star drivers for autographs and photos. The limited quantity Pit Party Early Access Pass provides fans entry into the Pit Party one hour before open to the general public.
“Every show has a Pit Party,” he said. “Four hours before the show starts, we have a Pit Party and an early access, when you pay a little extra. It’s an hour earlier, before the lines and the people start filing in.
“You can meet the drivers. It’s a little more personal. After an hour, the flood gates open. I want to say between 2,000 and 5,000 of our closest family and friends and wild people get out on the floor and meet and greet and have some fun.”
LeDuc said meeting fans can be emotional as well. He hears about cancer battles and engagements.
“It’s so much fun,” he said. “I never know what I’m going to do. I sign merchandise and talk to kids. It’s a really, really special moment on the show.”
Since LeDuc was in town last, he won two stadium tour championships in three years.
“That was really, really a proud moment,” he said. “My kids and my wife got to be there in person for that. I’ve been racing off-road trucks in Mexico and across the desert, That’s been a lot of fun.
“My kids started school. I did career day, talking to kids telling them they don’t have to get a regular job. If you have a dream, pursue it. You can probably make it happen.”
LeDuc spends a lot of time with children, especially at hospitals.
“If I have open time, I hate sitting still,” he said. “If I’m at home, I’ll do something good like visit kids in the hospital. Doing things like that keeps me from getting lazy.”
This year is one of firsts for LeDuc. He’s finishing the season with his first show in Japan, for which he crated his truck and sent it on a shipping boat two months ago. He’s also traveling to Singapore in early December.
LeDuc’s career was a logical choice, considering his father is Curt LeDuc, a legendary off-road racer. LeDuc won his first competition in 1984 at age 5 when he raced his plastic Big Wheel tricycle to victory in front of thousands of fans during an exhibition at one of his father’s off-road races in Canada.
In 1998, Todd started racing downhill mountain bikes and eventually won three California state championships. As a pro, he won two more and a national pro men’s downhill championship.
His motorsports career began in 2005 when he started co-driving with his father in his full-size class 8 truck in desert races. Again, the LeDucs prevailed, this time in the Best in the Desert racing series.
For his State Farm Stadium show, LeDuc promises his trademark moves.
“I’m a total, crazy lunatic,” he said with a laugh. “I want to give fans a ‘wow’ moment like last year. We did a big jump and fans left the show saying, ‘LeDuc is a nut.’
“I want people—even if I don’t win an event or place well during the show—to say, ‘Did you see what Todd did or Monster Energy did?’ If I don’t win, I want them leaving there with a lasting memory.”