The first toy for many little boys is a truck. It's the "toy" of choice for lots of big boys, too, and Ronnie Sturges is one of those fortunate guys who makes his living playing with trucks.
These aren't just any trucks, however. These are Monster Trucks from Sturges Motor Sports, and they'll be in Prescott Valley at Tim's Toyota Center today and tomorrow for shows at 7:30 p.m., following "pit parties" at 6 p.m.
Sturges spends most of his time on the road, getting home about twice a month, he said during a phone interview Tuesday from his home in Tucson.
He drives "Nasty Boy," a 1940 Willys pickup he redesigned into something special.
"It's a big jungle gym, didn't you know?" he said with a laugh. "All the kids when they come to see it, just climb on it."
He gets into Nasty Boy using a ladder and gives patrons a chance to do the same. He gives $5 rides before, during intermission and at the end of each show.
"Monster Truck fans are wonderful people to talk to," Sturges said. "I have a blast in the interaction with kids, making that 'wow' on their face. And we get some adults who've never been to a show before who are astonished with it."
In between the 30 to 40 venues he attends each year, doing two weekend shows, he keeps the trucks in top repair. Upkeep on the 10,000-pound monsters is a constant job. He has to special order some parts, but he and the crew fabricate most of the parts in-house so the fleet of trucks is custom-made.
"They stay together if you're not trying to flip them over; that's hard on the chassis," he said tongue-in-cheek, adding, "They're not made to go upside down - keep the rubber on the ground."
Still, he said in the 12 years he's been driving (since he was 14), he never is surprised by what happens to the trucks.
"There's always something that's different (to fix)," he said.
Sturges Motor Sports designs its vehicles to do wheelies, so the builders set the motors farther back. The longest wheelie Ronnie Sturges ever performed went 662 feet at 67 miles per hour.
"It was quite a rush when I got out," he said of his delayed reaction to the feat.
It's the same reaction he's hoping showgoers will experience from watching.
Tickets will be available night of show at Tim's Toyota Center Box Office.