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Inside the Illinois workshop building 10,000-pound monster trucks

Concussion Motorsports’ Butch Hartman, 46, of Perryville, Mo., President and CEO Rich Inman, 49, and Tom Hoelscher, both of Ellis Grove, Ill., on Tuesday, Jan. 31, 2023, at the company’s headquarters in Ellis Grove, Ill.
Brian Munoz
St. Louis Public Radio
Concussion Motorsports’ Butch Hartman, 46, of Perryville, Mo.; President and CEO Rich Inman, 49, and Tom Hoelscher, both of Ellis Grove, on Tuesday at the company’s headquarters in Ellis Grove — about 60 miles south of St. Louis in southern Illinois.

Last month, monster trucks roared into St. Louis’ Dome at America’s Center. They had gathered for Monster Jam, an event featuring massive vehicles tearing along a dirt track, and even taking flight.

The region has a distinct connection to the culture of monster trucks. It’s not just that Bigfoot, which essentially created the phenomenon of monster trucks in the 1980s, hails from St. Louis. About 55 miles south of St. Louis along the Mississippi River, at Concussion Motorsports in Ellis Grove, Illinois, owner Rich Inman has spent two decades honing his craft — as a master builder of monster trucks.

“Every weekend, these things will go 20, 30 feet in the air and come crashing down doing backflips,” he said during a recent visit to his shop. “They've got to be built extremely strong.”

Inman isn’t laboring alone. Also in the workshop is Butch Hartman, who has been part of the team at Concussion Motorsports for 13 years. He has no illusions about the fate of the trucks he works on. Everything he touches is destined for smashing and flying.

"It's amazing just watching what people put them through,” he said. “If you don't have a good driver, no matter how good the machine is, the machine isn't going to perform. But at the same time, if you don't have an extremely well-designed and put-together piece of equipment underneath, the driver can't perform to their full potential either."

To hear more from Rich Inman, including how he fell in love with monster trucks as a child watching the legendary Bigfoot, listen to the full St. Louis on the Air conversation on Apple Podcast, Spotify, Google Podcast, Stitcher, or by clicking the play button below.

Concussion Motorsports owner Rich Inman on "St. Louis on the Air"

St. Louis on the Air” brings you the stories of St. Louis and the people who live, work and create in our region. The show is produced by Miya Norfleet, Emily Woodbury, Danny Wicentowski, Elaine Cha and Alex Heuer. Avery Rogers is our production assistant. The audio engineer is Aaron Doerr. Send questions and comments about this story to talk@stlpr.org. 

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Danny Wicentowski is a producer for "St. Louis on the Air."