Fire Power

Speed freaks catch a buzz at Firebird International Raceway

What's 40 feet tall, weighs 58,000 pounds, has a jaw-crushing force of 20,000 pounds and consumes dead, fossilized dinosaurs? Well, besides Stone Cold Steve Austin.

Robosaurus, the electro-hydromechanical car-nivorous monster, will breathe fire, crush cars and make the world safe for democracy at Ford Motor Company's Jets vs. Funny Cars & Fireworks Too this Saturday, June 29, at Firebird International Raceway. But this life-size transformer isn't even the main attraction.

The battle begins with a rematch of April's face-off between the famed Big Foot, driven by monster truck king Dan Runte, and monster truck archrival Jimmy Creten's Bounty Hunter. They'll battle for monster truck supremacy in a freestyle competition.

Do the crusher: Robosaurus chomps on a tasty car flambé.
courtesy of Firebird International Raceway
Do the crusher: Robosaurus chomps on a tasty car flambé.

Details

Takes place at Firebird International Raceway at 20000 South Maricopa Road in Chandler on Saturday, June 29. Gates open at 4 p.m. Ticket prices start at $24 for adults; kids 12 and younger get in free with a paying adult. Additional and group ticket information can be obtained by calling 602-268-0200. Tickets can be purchased through Ticketmaster, 480-784-4444, and discounted tickets can be purchased through sponsor Checker Auto Parts and participating JB's Restaurants.

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But wait, there's more. The Firebird quarter-mile track will serve as the setting for a series of races between the two fastest varieties of cars: the Ford Jets and the alcohol Funny Cars. Both cars travel at around 300 mph, and as David Linden of FIR states, "With speed like that, anything can happen."

Four Funny Cars and four Jet Dragsters will compete in the series of races. Tucson native Al Arriaga, owner of two of the Jets (AZ Flash and Blue Bayou), has been racing since 1983. He started with Funny Cars but says, "It just got too expensive." So he switched to Jets and never looked back. "People love the smoke, the fire, the thunder," he explains. "Just visualize a jet with an afterburner."

Arriaga's son Scott, an eight-year racing veteran, will drive one of the Jets, and relative newcomer Carlos Gonzales of Sonora, Mexico, will drive the other. When asked about his son's driving, Arriaga is confident: "He's excellent, and very careful." And when racing at this speed, careful is a very good thing. Linden admits that, though the cars are safe, there is always some risk. "Anytime you are running at 300 mph in five seconds, there's going to be an element of danger."

In addition to the monster truck battle, the 40-foot-tall fire-breathing mechanical dinosaur, and the 300 mph racing competition, one of the state's biggest pre-Fourth of July fireworks shows will top off the evening.

Want to experience the steel-crushing, car-eating, jet-fuel-burning action, but you have kids? Just bring them along. They will enjoy the interactive midway and kids' zone as well as the Party in the Pits, open to those who purchase a "pit pass."

So who will win the match-up between the Jets and the Funny Cars? Not everyone thinks it's a toss-up. "No doubt about it," boasts Arriaga. "The Jets."

 
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