Sr. Big Wheels

Never mind getting behind the wheel of a dangerous Pinto, Pacer, or Gremlin, Lupe Sosa learned to drive in his grandfather's work truck and has never had a coupe or sedan. At 37 years old the Texan has climbed to the top rankings in the monster-truck circuit, which features the screaming machines with giant cartoonlike tires that bounce and fly over buses and flatten cars. With his fierce new vehicle, El Toro Loco, Sosa, the only Hispanic driver at his level, tears it up in Miami this weekend at the U.S. Hot Rod Monster Truck Jam.

New Times: What is El Toro Loco?

Lupe Sosa: It means crazy bull. Bright orange with flames, it's got bull features -- the teeth, the big horns, kinda like it's grinning. It's a real cool 3-D concept truck. We're dealing with 2000 horsepower [about six Toyota Camrys]. The actual frame, chassis, and power train are all specially fabricated for abuse.

What is it about a guy and his truck?

I think it all goes back to I'm still a kid, and it's just another toy of mine. I'll never grow up. It's just that the toys have gotten bigger. I get to go out and play with it in front of people.

What do you drive on the street?

I've never owned anything but a four-wheel-drive truck. I have a big power-stroke 2002 Ford four-door.

When you're stuck in traffic, do you wish you were in El Toro Loco?

Many times I do. Especially in parking lots. I wouldn't have to worry about looking for a spot. I could just park on top of two cars!

Can monster-truck driving bring world peace?

Monster trucks are known around the world. Every nationality likes them. I don't know that we could be the cure to world peace. If it could be as easy as all that, it would be beautiful. It would be nice if we could say, "Hey these guys are just like us, we're all humans."

And every little boy loves his truck?

Exactly, and these are toys. We all have a little kid in us regardless of the villain that a person may be. This might bring out the kid in him.

Maybe we'll see an Osama bin Laden truck?

Nooo! I don't think that truck will ever make it.

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Juan Carlos Rodriguez