Babysitting Bigfoot

James
James McLeod
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Gander boy Mike James circles the planet with monster trucks, motorbikes and fire-breathing Transformers under his wing

On Wednesday afternoon, Mike James is in a good mood.

He just got a call saying that both of the weekend's monster truck shows have completely sold out.

Walking through A1 Automotive in St. John's, where the trucks are being stored and worked on until the first show Friday, he jokes that for the first time, he doesn't really need the publicity of a newspaper article.

Michael James is the owner of Edge Entertainment, the company bringing monster trucks to Mile One Centre this weekend. Photo by Gary Hebbard/The Telegram

On Wednesday afternoon, Mike James is in a good mood.

He just got a call saying that both of the weekend's monster truck shows have completely sold out.

Walking through A1 Automotive in St. John's, where the trucks are being stored and worked on until the first show Friday, he jokes that for the first time, he doesn't really need the publicity of a newspaper article.

In the back of the shop, a couple of the trucks are being worked on; the fibreglass body panels are being cleaned up and replaced.

They don't really look like monsters trucks - they have small, travel wheels on instead of the massive ones they use of the show - but they're still impressive.

The engines, mounted in the rear of each vehicle amid a nest of metal piping, look big and angry.

James grew up in Gander, and went to high school and university in St. John's.

"I started out as an engineer at Memorial University," he said. "We used to build the formula race cars - used to compete in Detroit."

James said he spent a lot of time raising money for the team and promoting it, so pursuing a career in motorsport promotion was a natural step.

He started out promoting snowcross shows in Corner Brook. Shortly after, he got into monster trucks.

"My business partner Ralph Moore has been in the business for 20 years; I became a 50 per cent partner with him on these showcases four years ago, and we've been working together ever since," he said.

James lives in St. John's - he has a three-year-old son here - but spends a lot of time on the road. Standing by the trucks chatting, he says he wishes he could spend more time with his boy.

"I'm pretty much at all of our shows; it's kind of a hard life but it's something that we've been building the last four years, and it's just getting bigger and bigger."

James said he recently found out, to his chagrin as a Canadian, that in a poll of the world's most popular sports, NHL hockey ranks 20th, while monster trucks come 10th.

"The No. 1 station in Israel, for instance, is Extreme TV out of Britain," he said. "They're always showing monster trucks and freestyle motocross."

Not long ago, Edge Motorsports organized a show in Tel Aviv, where 44,000 people showed up.

However, coming home was its own thrill.

"When I was over in Israel, I had butterflies in my stomach," he said. "It's kind of like my lifelong dream to go somewhere huge like Tel Aviv and then come back and bring the same show format (to St. John's)."

jmcleod@thetelegram.com

Organizations: A1 Automotive, NHL

Geographic location: St. John's, Gander, Detroit Israel Tel Aviv Corner Brook Britain

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  • DAVID
    July 02, 2010 - 13:32

    Good work Mike! Glad to see its finally starting to pay off.

  • DAVID
    July 01, 2010 - 20:20

    Good work Mike! Glad to see its finally starting to pay off.