A self-described farm boy from Oil City, Penn., Tony Ochs grew up driving off road trucks and ATVs. He didn’t race competitively back then but enjoyed riding off-road vehicles as a hobby. So he should feel right at home at the Q next week when he comes to town with Feld Motor Sports’ Monster Jam, the annual monster truck rally that descends on the Q, turning the arena floor into a racetrack by dumping truckloads of dirt and building a series of jumps and obstacles.
Ochs will sit behind the mammoth Soldier Fortune Black Ops, a camouflaged, tank-inspired truck “inspired by the dedicated men and women who serve in the elite special forces branches of the U.S. military.”
It’s fitting that Monster Jam enlisted Ochs, a former Apache helicopter Crew Chief in the United States Army, to drive the beast.
“In 2015, they debuted the original Soldier Fortune truck and half-way through the year they started developing the Soldier Fortune Black Ops,” says Ochs, who jokes that as a kid he often told his parents he wanted to be a garbage truck driver when he grew up. “They had a couple of candidates to drive the new truck, but with my military background and my motorsports background and my personality, everything fit the truck. They hired me on.”
In September of last year, he went to “Monster Jam University” to train for four weeks with “drill sergeant” Tom Meents. He compares it to the basic training he endured after he entered the military. The truck debuted earlier this year in Albany.
“The truck is really beautiful,” Ochs says. “When I first saw it, I got a little emotional. Every time I drive the truck, I drive it to play tribute to all the men and women currently in the military and all the veterans who have served. Every time I fly that truck through the air, that’s who I’m doing it for— it’s for all the men and women who are fighting to keep us free.”
Rookie drivers aren’t favored to win the Monster Jam finals, but Ochs says he’s going to give it his best shot.
“The drivers are the best in the world and here I am a rookie coming in,” he says. “I’m going to shoot for the world title. I was the only rookie in Albany and I did fairly well against them. The competition is going to be rough.”
Performances take place at 2 and 7 p.m. on Saturday, February 13, and at 1 and 6 p.m. on Sunday, February 14. Show info can be found here.
Saturday, February 13th at 2:00 p.m. and 7:00 p.m., and Sunday, February 14th at 1:00 p.m. and 6:00 p.m.! Show info can be found here: http://www.theqarena.com/events/detail/monster-jam-160213-14