The WJON news team is doing a series of Extreme Driving experiences in Central Minnesota. Listen as WJON’s Mark Alan gets to Command a tank at Camp Ripley.

I can only imagine how long the line would be if asked who would like to ride in an M1A1 Tank.

To experience the Tank is amazing in itself mainly because of the type of equipment it is with all the electronics involved and the operation. I had that Opportunity at Camp Ripley,Mn.

The crew that mans the tank are a Commander, a gunner, a loader and of course the driver. Interestingly enough the driver lays down to drive the tank in a very cramped and confined space.     It's almost like driving a motorcycle with handle bars.

The tank is 12 feet in width by 8 feet in height and 19 inches in ground clearance.

I’m 5’10” and a 186 lbs and I was basically too big to fit in the driver’s seat. There are two ways to get into the driver’s seat, down through the turret and the portal attached to the hull. There is an adjustment to move the seat and a head rest, also an adjustment for the handle bars to pull it toward you or push away from you.

When climbing down into the driver’s seat you really have to watch your head. You are surrounded by sensors and controls and switches and lots of metal. There really is no room for anything else. With reinforced suspension the tank runs so smooth you’d never know you were in one.

The tank doesn’t give way to you, so when I got out of the tank I had a few bumps and bruises. One other note the turret has to be in the locked position so it doesn’t spin around while the driver exists or that could prove to be disastrous.


The windows you see through are about 1 inch tall by 6 inches wide, it’s a feeling of tunnel vision. As a driver of the tank you have priority when it comes to communication, which I found a lot of that is between the driver and the tank commander. You need his eyes as well when it comes to driving through tight spaces or even turning around.

The M1A1 Abrams Tank I was in is Combat ready and is transported to port by rail and loaded on a C17 or C5 Cargo Plane.

The experience was most definitely a rush.

Check out this video of highlights.