‘Big’ dreams become a reality ‘Bad News Travels Fast’ driver living it up behind wheel of Monster Jam truck
Nine years ago Brandon Derrow hit the big time – literally.
The 32-year-old Elkton, Va., native purchased a monster truck operation. He’s been crushing cars and living out his childhood dream ever since.
“Never in a million years would I have thought this was possible,” said Derrow, who owns and drives the Bad News Travels Fast Chevrolet Silverado that will be part of the Monster Jam event performing at the Florence Center Jan. 31 and Feb. 1. Other Monster Jam trucks scheduled to rev it up the center are El Toro Loco, Hurricane Force, Megalodon, Stinger Unleashed, and Toxic.
Three performances are scheduled - Friday at 7 p.m. and Saturday at 1 p.m. and 7 p.m. A pit party event will be held Saturday at 10:30 a.m. Pit passes are sold separate from admission.
Tickets to the high-octane event are now on sale, starting at $15.
The Monster Jam event will feature truck drivers going head-to-head for points in various competitions, including freestyle, a skills challenge and racing. Plus, fans in the stands will be able to vote in real time for their favorites.
Monster Jam fans also will have the chance to buy tickets for the pit party, where they can see the massive trucks up close, meet their favorite drivers, get autographs and take photos. Pit party passes start at $15.
Derrow is convinced it was fate that led him to monster truck life. He said it would never have been possible if not for his mom and dad.
In 2011 Derrow and his parents were in attendance at a Monster Jam event. They heard over the loudspeaker that the truck owned by veteran driver Bruce Haney was for sale. Derrow convinced his dad, Kent, to go with him to find out a little more information.
They spoke with Haney’s wife, who informed them of her husband’s retirement plans and that it was not just the truck that was for sale, but the entire operation. The asking price was $185,000. The price included truck, trailer, spare engine and transmissions, miscellaneous parts, and the rights to residuals from toys depicting the image of the truck.
Derrow contacted eight banks in an attempt to borrow the money to buy the monster truck operation. He was denied at all eight.
“By that time I figured there was no chance in the world of my dream becoming a reality.” said Derrow.
The ninth bank agreed to loan him the funds on the condition that his mom and dad co-sign. They did, and Derrow was behind the wheel of his very own monster truck.
“Without the love and support of my parents it would not be happening,” he said.
He has been at it now for almost nine years, on the road and performing an average of 33 to 35 weekends each year. He says he has not regretted it for a moment.
“It can take its toll for sure, being a single dad and all, but I really love what I do.”
Up until a year, Derrow held down a regular job during the week at the Target distribution center near his home. That, combined with performing at shows nearly every weekend, took its toll.
“It just got to be too much,” he said.
Being a full-time driver would not be possible without his parents, Derrow said. He credits his mom and dad with helping him care for his two young children, four-year-old son Kenton and Aubrey, his 16-month-old daughter. If you look closely at the paint scheme on the Bad News Chevy you will see their names on the helmets of the drivers depicted on each side of the truck.
Derrow said his most memorable moment during his monster truck career was winning the race at a Fisherville, Va., show on his son’s birthday.
“That was a pretty cool deal,” he said.
Derrow has never been seriously injured while performing, but he has had a few close calls.
His most memorable wreck happened in 2014 at a show in Orlando, Fla.
“The rear steer was broken almost my entire freestyle run but I was determined to do the best I could for the fans,” Derrow remembered. “On the last jump I was going to make, it went horribly wrong. It corkscrewed in the air and came down hard on the roll cage bending some of the bars in the cage and tearing up every body panel on the truck. Not to mention I came out of the truck dizzy and light-headed for a few minutes thereafter.”
Derrow said he still gets an adrenaline rush every time he fires up the engine. He said the favorite part of his job is watching cars get crunched through the plexiglass floorboard as he drives over them.
Derrow said the trucks are equipped with plexiglass floorboards so that drivers can see where they are going when popping wheelies.
He encouraged fans to come out this weekend to see him and the other drivers perform.
“I promise you it will be loud and it will be exciting,” he said.
Does Derrow see himself traveling and driving his monster truck for another two or three decades before shutting it down and retiring like his predecessor?
“I’m not sure about that,” he admitted. “One thing I can tell you is that I will do it as long as I am able.”