Rick Dorritie is a powerful man.
At stops across the country, Dorritie mesmerizes fans of all ages with a 41,000-pound, 30-foot tall transforming robotic monster dubbed Transaurus.
With the help of hydraulically-operated arms, claws and jaws, Dorritie and Transaurus rip apart cars and then torch the wreckage with a flame thrower mounted in the head of the monster.
It’s loud, dramatic and captivating.
"Every audience seems to react a little different," Dorritie said. "At some places, you can hear a pin drop when we come out. Folks are just in awe at the power this machine has."
Transaurus will be the featured performer for Saturday’s Thunder Valley Mayhem program at Bristol Dragway.
The annual event will also include 10 nitro-burning Pro Modified cars, two jet trains, the Super Shockwave jet truck, Benny the Bomb and the Team FMX Motocross stunt team. Exhibition runs are scheduled for 6:30 and 8:30 p.m.
Dorritie, 57, has been involved in motorsports since age 16. He built cars for various NASCAR teams, dabbled in drag racing at the bracket level and even built a monster truck.
It terms of raw power, nothing compares to Dorritie’s custom-made prehistoric contraption.
In a scene perfect for a Hollywood action movie, Transaurus morphs from a World War II era M10 tank into a flame-spewing dinosaur powered by a big block Chevy engine and an ear-popping jet turbine.
"Transaurus transforms in about 45 seconds. And after we lift a car 25 feet in the air, we can chew it up in about eight minutes," Dorritie said. "That’s a lot of power."
While Rick operates the hydraulic arms, his wife Sherri serves as the driver. The Dorrities work their magic with an array of levers, gauges, buttons and gears mounted on the control panel of Transaurus.
"It looks like an F-16 inside," Rick Dorritie said. "The kids are definitely fascinated by it."
The Dorrities first brought Transaurus to Bristol Dragway 11 years ago. The couple has performed their heavy metal magic act thousands of times at county fairs, monster truck shows, air shows and special events.
"Rick calls this a vacation with a purpose," Sherri Dorritie said. "We travel six months out of the year and meet so many different people. I love seeing the reaction of the fans. Of course, all kids enjoy dinosaurs."
While giving a preview to media types Thursday afternoon at Bristol Dragway, Rick Dorritie displayed a scrapbook that chronicles the conquests and adventures of Transaurus across the United States and Canada.
In addition to wowing fans during events, Transaurus has been featured in television shows and commercials and been utilized by law enforcement agencies to destroy houses.
Dorritie said it took nearly a year before he mastered the use of the various hydraulic controls of Transaurus.
"It’s just got so much power," said Dorritie, who has been touring with Transaurus for 17 years.
For Rick Dorritie, the search and destroy missions are a welcome outlet for releasing his inner child.
"We have a lot of fun doing shows, and it does brings back good memories," said Dorritie, a native of upstate New York. "We all had a lot of transformer toys when we were kids."
According to Bristol Motor Speedway media and public relations coordinator Wes Ramey, motorsports fans will have plenty of options to choose from Saturday.
"Thunder Valley Mayhem is one of those events that truly has something for everyone," Ramey said. "We find the parents enjoy it just as much, if not more, because of the amazing things that they only can see here.
"And we’re really excited about this season’s event because we have combined it with the Super Chevy Show. By putting them together, it gives us an opportunity to give the fans an even bigger bang for the buck."
The Super Chevy Show portion of the show continues through Sunday and includes bracket racing, the Keisler Engineering car show and performance and restoration marketplace.
Spectator admission is $20 for Saturday’s activities. Children 10 and under will be admitted for $5. Saturday’s bracket racing begins at 3 p.m.
Ramey added that 500 racers have already signed up for the Oct. 2 PINKS All Out event at Bristol Dragway.
firstname.lastname@example.org | Twitter: @Greg_BHCSports | (276) 645-2544