Passengers waiting at a BC Ferries terminal in Nanaimo were probably not expecting to see a fire-breathing dinosaur during the long-weekend ferry lineup.
Bill Payne, owner of the independent monster truck team Straight Up Racing, said it all started with a father and his young son. Payne and his crew had just finished a successful weekend at the Saratoga Speedway in Black Creek and were waiting at the Departure Bay ferry terminal to go back home to Washington.
He and his crew perform on the Island roughly twice as a year as they tour the West Coast putting on monster truck events. When not in use, the trucks are wrapped with their names and pictures on the exterior, as they were on Monday, May 22, at the ferry terminal.
“There were people of all types there,” he said. “There were people playing football in the parking lot, there were people in hammocks sleeping, there were people setting up movies in the back of their SUVs … And then there were people yelling and screaming at the ferry workers, honking their horns … It was absolute chaos at the waiting terminal.”
During their five-hour sailing wait, Payne said people would come up and ask questions. A father and son took a special interest in Megasauraus, the transforming T-rex that “eats cars and blows fire.”
“And the kid brought up his hands like they were claws and started roaring – like what Megasauraus does,” Payne said. “And that pretty much brought the kid out in all of my guys.”
Although reluctant at first, Payne eventually caved to his crew and own inner child and said “you got three minutes to get it out and do a show.’”
His crew then worked quickly to unstrap and stand up the mechanical monster.
An exciting incendiary show amazed passengers and momentarily eased boredom at the terminal.
Just as they were lowering the dino back down, Payne said a loud speaker announcement asked “will the over-sized vehicle please stop shooting fire?” – quickly followed by BC Ferries workers running up and asking them to stop.
Almost as quickly as the dino had appeared, it was gone.
Payne said the ferry staff were “just doing their job and playing it safe” and that they wanted to ensure the dino wouldn’t rear its head again.
“We didn’t do this for recognition. We only did this for the people, just to put some smiles on faces. That’s what we do,” Payne said.
He said that Megasauraus, which is constructed out of an old military tank and other steel and hydraulics, also holds indoor performances at hockey arenas and performance centres. It uses a two-gallon propane tank to create fireballs, and goes through fire marshal inspections routinely, as well as its own safety inspections weekly.
“My whole life is built around … [creating] memories and dreams and hopefully put a kid on the right path to do something cool with their life.”