Bari Musawwir remembers when his love affair with monster trucks began. He was was 6-years-old when he went with his mom to a Monster Jam show at the Pontiac Silver Dome in Detroit.
“I just kind of fell in love the first time I saw it,” Musawwir says. “I knew at that age I had to do this for a living.”
A lot has happened for the Cleveland native since then. He caught the eye of a Monster Jam executive while racing a remote-controlled truck at a 2006 event and heard the question he’d been waiting for his entire life: Want to try driving a monster truck?
“I’d driven a monster truck a million times in my mind, but when you have to actually get behind the wheel and do it, it’s a totally different feeling — it’s indescribable,” Musawwir says. “You’re controlling something that weighs 12,000 pounds and has all this horsepower.”
Four years later, he got the call to drive professionally. His Monster Jam debut took place outside of the U.S., in Panama. He’s now a proven driver for Monster Jam, being crowned the sport’s Rookie of the Year in 2021. He also took the win at the “Young Guns Shootout” Monster Jam World Finals in 2012.
“I’ve been in it now for 11 seasons and still living the dream,” he says.
What About Home Life?
“One of the perks of the job is traveling, but it’s great to be able to do that and not be away from my family for weeks at a time,” he says.
Technicians maintain the trucks on the road, so drivers get to fly home and be with their families during the week. Musawwir flies out on Thursdays for weekend performances and returns afterwards. He lives with his wife, and 8-year-old son; the little one love the trucks.
“My son just lives and breathes Monster Jam,” he says. “He wants to be a monster truck driver, so he’s definitely a chip off the old block as far as following my footsteps.”
Musawwir says his family doesn’t worry about the high-flying stunts he does, because they’re safer than you might think.
“I feel almost invincible when I’m in my truck,” he explains. “Each seat in each truck is tailor made to your body measurement and you’re strapped in with a 7-point safety harness while wearing your helmet and pads.”
Musawwir has another important distinction within the sport — he is Monster Jam’s first African-American driver.
“It’s amazing to not only fill out a dream, but also not conform to a stereotype,” he says. “I’m the first, but hopefully not the last.”
Monster Jam returns to Nissan Stadium on Saturday, June 25. Tickets start at $20. In addition, you can meet Bari and his truck “Zombie” (as well as other drivers with their trucks) outdoors at the Monster Jam Pit Party fan experience prior to the big event. Tickets for the Pit Party fan experience are $20. For more information, visit monsterjam.com.