Known as “The Professor” for his role at the Monster Jam University, Tom Meents, schooled the field last weekend in the Monster Jam World Finals, piloting the Max-D to his 14th finals’ win.
Meents was disqualified from Saturday’s racing after missing a ramp. He bounced back with two wins on Sunday in the Great Clips Skills Challenge and BKT Tires Freestyle and barely missed a perfect day after a second-place finish in Lucas Oil High Jump behind Ryan Anderson, who reached almost 39 feet in his jump.
“Honestly the day I put in on Sunday was a first and a second in the most competitive field that there has been,” Meents told NBC Sports. “I had an extremely good Sunday.”
With 19 years in the series and seven years spent running Monster Jam University, Meents’ career has lived through the growth and history of this sport as much as any of the legends that precede him. Meents’ 14 Finals wins come in different eras of the sport – and as it’s grown and expanded into maturity the competition has leveled up, forcing “The Professor” to continuously improve.
“At this time, I think my favorite ones are the current ones, just because the competition is so much tougher than it used to be,” Meents said of his World Finals wins. “In the very beginning you were facing about 11 other competitors and now you’re facing 23.
“The entire field of trucks is better than it’s ever been. The equipment is better and the drivers are all trained at Monster Jam University. It’s gotten so good and to be able to walk out of there with two (championship wins) in one day is pretty much impossible.”
— Monster Jam (@MonsterJam) May 22, 2022
Meents has spent the last seven years training the new class of Monster Jam drivers and making sure the veterans are continuing to learn and improve.
He uses the University as a place to define and remove weaknesses in fellow drivers’ styles, working out the kinks that can be hard to see on one’s own. This puts him in a bit of a predicament. As he keeps making his competitors better, it makes his job more difficult.
“A couple of things come with (helping the competition),” Meents said. “It’s really neat to practice what you preach and get the job done, … whether it’s at an event or here at Monster Jam University. If they have a question, the first thing I want to do is make them better. … Because I can see some of the stuff that they’re not able to see themselves. I can watch and create a drill that I produce and come up with to make them better. It’s a great problem really. Whether I win or one of my students wins, it’s very rewarding.”
Meents spends his season pulling double duty between training and racing, often feeling tugged between the two worlds.
“It’s tough, I can tell you that,” Meents said. “Running the school and getting people talented and seeing them succeed in things has really made me a better driver.
“At the same time, I have a lot of weight on my shoulders because I don’t want to go and run fifth and have it look like the professor isn’t able to do his job.”
Meents’ time in Monster Jam is far from over and the legacy will be lasting, Of the 24 drivers in this years’ World Finals, Meents trained half of them and his impact is seen in every run and fan engagement they have.
But after winning the World Finals championship in 2022, Meents doesn’t have to worry about being schooled any time soon.