The progression of motorsports has been insane throughout the past decade, and competitors are consistently pushing the limits on what’s possible. A perfect example of this happened back in 2017, during the Monster Jam World Finals XVIII in Las Vegas, when driver Lee O’Donnell successfully landed the world’s first ever monster truck front flip in his VP Racing Fuels Mad Scientist truck.
Nobody had ever witnessed a monster truck do this kind of trick in a freestyle competition, let alone a World Finals freestyle. The Mad Scientist certainly lived up to his name with this one, and when he landed that move, it set the bar that much higher for the other drivers. It’s no wonder he took home the freestyle championship that night. This is one of those things you really need to see to believe.
The above video gives us an awesome view into Lee O’Donnell’s full run. You can see his run starts off strong. He’s using the course, he gets some big air, but then he kind of plateaus. He appears to be just cruising around the course looking for the right lineup.
With the clock winding down and only 20 seconds left, he lines up and executes a backflip off the wall perfectly. It almost appears as if that will be his last trick, but with 10 seconds left, he floors it towards the next jump. The truck gets some big air, and the shock from the landing bounces the front wheels back up in the air.
O’Donnell puts the pedal down and rides out the slap-wheelie all the way until the next jump, where only the rear wheels make contact. As the truck leaves the ramp, it is sent into a forward somersault and tremendously flips absolutely perfectly back on its wheels to stick the landing. Not even the announcers could believe it, and it quickly turned into quite the trending topic on social media.
Now, not to take any credit away from O’Donnell, but in a later interview with Fox Sports, the Mad Scientist driver did admit that the flip was not exactly done on purpose. He states that he was working on landing the front flip eventually, but he tried in Detroit, and it didn’t work out so well.
“I didn’t think it was going to turn out the way it did,” O’Donnell said. “I thought we were going to kind of ride the slap-wheelie, hit the ramp, go to the front bumper and then back to the wheels again. That’s what we thought was going to happen, and then obviously we had a little bit too much speed, so it kind of worked out for the better.”
Truly intentional or not, the stunt still made history as the world’s first monster truck front flip. It was extremely impressive, cauing the entire sold-out stadium to erupt into cheering and applause. Everyone that was there this day witnessed a historical moment in Monster Jam, and there was no better place to land it than the World Finals.