An imposing physical presence, former Atlanta-area resident Chad Fortune has had a monstrously successful career in many different arenas. After transitioning from football to pro wrestling, working for now-defunct Atlanta-based World Championship Wrestling and the World Wrestling Federation (now World Wrestling Entertainment), he found success in an even more unlikely sport. It was through his work in the fantasy land of wrestling that he had the good fortune to enter the realm of monster trucks, first as a spokesman for WCW’s New World Order truck in 1999, then as the driver for WCW’s Nitro Machine the following year. These days, Fortune has taken on the “Man of Steel” persona as the driver of the Superman truck, remaining one of the sports top competitors. With Monster Jam coming to town Feb. 12, Fortune discusses his previous athletic endeavors and what it’s like being a real-life superhero.
Considering that people can’t just hop in a monster truck and drive it around, how does one get into this sport?
It’s still relatively new, having been around for about 25 years. But for the past 15 years, we’ve been doing big stadiums like the Georgia Dome. So, you’re right, it’s not something where you can just jump into a monster truck and start practicing. I think I spent maybe a day in a field in North Carolina testing, then every day after that was in front of a crowd. They’re so expensive to run that every time you get in there you might as well go and perform in a show if you’re going to wreck it.
Your initiation into the sport was unique since you got involved through your work in wrestling.
I was with WCW and, prior to that, I was a football player. So I had this unique job where this opportunity just sort of fell into my lap. I guess I consider myself a bit of an extreme guy, so I don’t turn anything down and I give anything a try. So when I went to North Carolina to test, I kind of fell in love with it.
What was your wrestling gimmick before you started driving trucks?
I started with WCW’s training school, then went to the WWF for about a year and a half, then came back to WCW. I wrestled, then ended up being one of the trainers in the WCW school. I was called the Soldier of Fortune in WCW, I was part of Tekno Team 2000 in WWF, then I was part of the Pit Crew in WCW.
Wrestling and monster trucks are already very comic book-like endeavors. But now you drive the Superman truck. What has been the appeal of these various odd jobs for you?
Things just have a way of working out. Football is such an aggressive sport with a lot of athleticism, then going into WCW there’s a lot of entertainment. So you learn the skills of interviewing and really letting your character come out. Now with the monster truck, I get the best of both worlds. The competition of racing is very physical hitting these jumps on school buses and freestyle ramps. And with Superman, I’m basically playing a character that can kind of relate with the kids and have a great time with it. I get to stand up on the truck and pose and it’s really kind of funny how my life has transitioned and now I get to be Superman.
So you’d say your previous jobs prepared you for the physicality of driving a monster truck?
It really has been like training for this. The racing is competitive and it’s a physical sport. It’s not like driving a Cadillac down the street. It’s a rough ride.
I was at the Monster Jam show in Atlanta last year. Did you drive the Superman truck then?
Yeah. I think I had a big wreck there, too.
Monster Jam. 7:30 p.m. Feb. 12. Georgia Dome, 1 Georgia Dome Drive. 404-223-4636. www.monsterjam.com, www.gadome.com. $10-$235.
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