09-04-2001, 11:52 AM
Malone to drive monster truck on pro level
SALT LAKE CITY -- Karl Malone ran a long-haul trucking line in the early 1990s. Three years ago, he wrestled Dennis Rodman on pay-per-view. Now the Mailman is entering the world of monster truck motor sports.
Malone unveiled his latest non-basketball venture Wednesday, announcing a partnership with Clear Channel Entertainment where he will own, operate and even drive a monster truck on the U.S. Hot Rod Association's Monster Jam circuit.
"This is not a staged event," Malone said during a news conference on the Delta Center floor. "I've been involved in wrestling before, where you kind of know who's going to win, but we'll have to win points."
The Utah Jazz superstar will spend about $500,000 next year from his $15.75 million NBA salary to run the Power Forward team. Fans of the thundering, 12-foot high, 1,200-horsepower vehicles will even see Malone behind the wheel.
"I have one stipulation in my contract with the Jazz, and that's not shooting off a horse," Malone said. "That means I can drive this truck. I'll definitely drive it during the summer months."
Malone's day job, as the two-time league MVP and perennial All-Star forward, will keep him from attending many of the 120 events on the circuit. He plans to appear when he can, sometimes as an owner, sometimes to drive.
The Power Forward truck will appear in January at a tour stop in Houston. Malone became involved in the sport after attending an event last season in Las Vegas, where he met his driver, Chad Fortune, and took a ride.
"What excites me wouldn't excite a lot of people," Malone said. "I love speed. I love big machines."
After Malone answered questions, Fortune drove into the Delta Center in a white monster truck amid a display of indoor fireworks, spotlights and a deafening roar from the 570-cubic-inch engine.
He got out, shook hands with Malone, who then climbed into the cab and explained features of the vehicle.
"We want to win. We're not in this to come in second," Malone said. "I told Chad earlier in the year to drive the truck like his reputation is on the line."
When completed in November, Malone's truck will have a black body with a painting of a bald, muscular man raising a clenched fist with his right hand while holding a basketball in his left.
And of course, the truck will display No. 32.
"I'm sure we'll see some kind of pick-and-roll move by the Power Forward team," said Clear Channel motor sports president Charlie Mancuso.
Malone owns several auto dealerships across the West and has been involved in numerous well-publicized ventures away from basketball, including his dubious 1998 wrestling match against Rodman.
This time, he insists he's in it for the long run.
"My main goal is playing professional basketball," Malone said. "This is my escape. Some people like to play golf. That's OK if that's what you like to do, but this is my escape."
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