Two-wheel drive: A key higlight of the show Image Credit: Arshad Ali/XPRESS

DUBAI: Huge crowds at the Global Village, especially during the weekends, are nothing new. Last Friday was no exception as a long queue of people snaked its way along the Main Stage.

One would presume the thousands who had lined up were there to listen to the Pakistani music legend Rahat Fateh Ali Khan, who was to perform later in the evening. But they were headed in the opposite direction for another programme: the Monster Stunt Show.

The 1,200-seat mini stadium filled up within minutes. Those who couldn’t make it were told to catch the next show.

The action began with a bang (read that as the roar of engines revving and tyres screeching) and one felt the ground rumble under the feet as one high-octane stunt after another greeted the audience. We are talking about twin-car drifting, skiing (driving a car on two wheels), aerial bike stunts, fist fights, gun battles, zip-lining and rappelling, all of which were showcased as part of a good guys versus bad guys chase drama played out to a heavy metal soundtrack.

The 20-minute adrenaline-fuelled show had the packed audience cheering the daredevils’ every move.

“How they drift five cars in such a small space with such precision is absolutely remarkable,” said Khalid Al Hassan, a Saudi visitor.

“A lot of homework is done before every show,” James Nikolas, the stage manager, told XPRESS backstage after the show. Pointing to a ‘drawing board’ made of thermacol, cardboard planks and toy cars, he said: “This is where we rehearse.” (see photo)

The team consists of 12 stunt experts hailing from Australia, USA, Lebanon, India and Canada. Between them, they use five 1998 BMWs, a 2004 Mustang, three quad bikes and a dirt bike. The act also features a monster truck and some ‘funny-looking’ mini vehicles. “We all come from different backgrounds, but have managed to inspire each other,” said Nikolas.

Chain reaction

When asked how the team managed to put on such a ‘perfectly timed’ show, he said: “The rule is simple – if you don’t see your cue, you don’t go ahead with your act. We are just following each other. It’s like a chain reaction.”

Giving us a peek into one of the BMWs, he said the back seat, the glove compartment, stereos, door skins have been removed to make it lighter. “All the cars have been modified to suit drifting and have separate brakes for front and back tyres.”

Speaking about the challenges they faced, he said the weather conditions were a major concern. “When we first came to Dubai, the heat posed a problem as it made maintenance of tyre pressure difficult. After the temperatures dropped, it was the fog. The tracks would lock in moisture making it risky to drive on.”

But on a wintery night like last Friday it was difficult to tell the stunt masters were grappling with their own challenges as the show went on!