ELGIN — When Ken Hudgens was a student at Larsen Middle School, he had two goals: to play basketball in Division 1 and to play basketball for the NBA.
Hudgens got as far as a basketball scholarship to Eastern Washington University before, he said, he realized he probably wasn’t good enough to play professionally.
On Thursday, he came back to Larsen to tell students about “a lot of weird stuff you can do out there later in life,” he said.
And he came with one of the 50 or so monster trucks that are part of Feld Motor Sports, where he now is chief operating officer. That truck, the Mohawk Warrior, will be featured in the Advance Auto Parts Monster Jam on Friday through Saturday at the Allstate Arena in Rosemont.
“Thirty years ago, I was sitting where you’re sitting, and I never knew a job like this — that was so much fun — existed,” Hudgens said.
Monster trucks average about 12 feet tall — their tires alone are more than 5 feet across — and weigh 5 tons, according to a video he showed students during his presentation.
During a Monster Jam, the trucks can fly 40 feet into the air and reach 60 miles per hour in less than three seconds while racing and freestyling over obstacles, the video said. They compete in more than 350 of those events each year in both North America and Europe.
Before the Larsen grad’s presentation, students swarmed the black and purple monster truck parked just behind their school, smartphone cameras raised.
The vehicle is the first monster truck to sport a tall, jet-black, razor-sharp Mohawk down the roof on its SUV body, according to MonsterJam.com. That matches the hairstyle of its driver, George Balhan.
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Photo credit: Michael Smart for Sun-Times Media.