By Leslie Radford: CNJ Staff writer
Joe Cypher grew up in Reno, Nev., playing with Hot Wheels and little plastic Army men — two things that have most influenced his life. He was once an Army Ranger, and now Hot Wheels has a toy modeled after his monster truck “Airborne Ranger.”
Cypher will perform in this weekend’s third annual Monster Madness, a motorsports race between over-sized trucks, at the Curry County Fairgrounds.
Craig Graham, coordinator for JDC Promotions putting on the monster truck show, said “Ranger Joe” is the only Native American handicapped Army veteran to run a monster truck.
Cypher got into the sport of monster trucking after being involved with the Army Rangers. He was handicapped after a car wreck several years ago. His monster truck is a 1998 Chevy about 10 feet high, 12 feet long and sits on 56 inch tires is specifically designed for the sport of car-crunching and racing.
“I’ve always been a 4×4 guy,” he said. “I just wanted to honor the Rangers in some way after I got injured.”
Airborne Ranger is also the first hand-controlled monster truck. Cypher, being partially paralyzed, uses modified controls designed for handicapped drivers. Money he receives from the Clovis show will support The Ranger Joe Mobility Foundation, a non-profit organization to help handicapped children.
Airborne Ranger along with Cyborg, Tuff E’Nuff and Wild Thang will be out and about Clovis and Portales all day Thursday to promote their trucks and the show.
Graham said there will also be five motocrossers doing dirt bike tricks at the Monster Madness.
A meet and greet is scheduled before the show. Locals wanting to run their trucks in Monster Madness can show up at 6 p.m to participate in a special Tuff Trucks competition.
Entrants must participate Friday and Saturday nights in order to compete for the $500 purse. Graham said competitors must be over 18 have a helmet and functional seat belts in the vehicle they run in Tuff Trucks for insurance purposes.
Friday and Saturday
• 6:00 p.m. — Gates open
• 6:30 p.m. – 7 p.m. — Meet and Greet
• 8 p.m. — Show begins