If you’re looking for an unconventional way to show your kids the meaning of girl power, consider taking them to Monster Jam.
That’s right: the big trucks are back, moving away from their traditional January date to host four shows in Toronto from Friday, June 21 to Sunday, June 23. In their new venue, Scotiabank Arena, the Triple Threat Series format will be used here for the first time, meaning that six different drivers will compete in six points-based challenges using three different vehicles – Monster Jam trucks, speedsters, and ATVs – to determine the ultimate winner.
Of those six drivers, there will be two women charged with taming these 12,000 lb., 1,500 hp beasts. And each has a story that’s sure to win over plenty of fans.
A Canadian Woman with a Monster Appetite for Competition
Cynthia Gauthier, a 30-year-old from Mirabel, Quebec, is the first Canadian woman ever to drive a Monster Jam truck and will be behind the wheel of Monster Mutt Dalmatian.
Quebec’s inhabitants have a reputation for being willing to race just about anything: cars, bikes, snowmobiles, lawnmowers, and whatever else can be made to go faster than another thing. For Gauthier, it was motocross that hooked her into motorsport.
“It’s kind of a funny story because I studied to be in accounting, to be a CPA, and during university I started racing dirt bikes,” Gauthier tells Wheels.ca. “I kept racing during the weekends and going to school during the week, and I was working at night. It was a crazy lifestyle.
“I went all the way to the pro level in the motocross nationals, and I got injured pretty badly. I had surgery on my knee and surgery on my shoulder. I decided I had to make a change of sports and moved to the United States. I started racing off-road in little buggies, and that’s when I met people in the Monster Jam industry and they gave me the opportunity to test drive. I right away fell in love.”
Gauthier is now coming into her fifth year as a monster truck driver, and she’s already had time to make her mark on the record books: she won the first-ever high jump competition with a rise of 45.472 feet as part of the 2019 Monster Jam World Finals, which took place last month in Orlando, Florida.
“It was a sold-out crowd of 70,000 people,” she says. “The whole crowd was cheering so loud. Right when I was in the air, I knew at that moment that I beat all those guys. It was one of the best moments I’ve had in my life, for sure.”
While driving a monster truck takes her around the world, Gauthier has a small memento she always keeps on her dashboard to remind her of home.
“I have a little Canadian moose in my truck,” she says. “My mom gave it to me when I first started, and it’s been five years in my truck. It’s a little bit dusty and full of dirt.
“I’m actually moved back to Canada now. Doing a show in Toronto means so much to me because I can show every Canadian woman that we can do it.”
An Anderson Woman Continues the Grave Digger Family Legacy
The Anderson name is intrinsically connected with Grave Digger, the truck that was created by Dennis Anderson in 1982 and piloted by him for 35 years before he stepped down in 2017.
In Toronto, Grave Digger will be tearing up dirt as usual, but a different Anderson will be behind the wheel competing here for the first time: Krysten Anderson, the second youngest of Dennis’s three children and the only woman ever to drive the world’s most famous monster truck.
Her older brothers, Adam and Ryan, have both also competed under the Grave Digger banner. But when Krysten’s opportunity came around, driving these huge trucks herself wasn’t on her radar.
“I was really interested in getting involved in graphic design,” she says, “working for Monster Jam in their art department and being a part of the creative process when it comes to creating the designs on the sides of the trucks.
“I’m (Dennis’s) only girl, and I don’t think he ever expected me to drive like my two older brothers did. He had fulfilled his dream of having his children carry on his legacy. I think he kind of half expected me to go to college.
“In late 2016, they had a seat open up in Grave Digger. Monster Jam reached out to me and my family and were like, who better to be the first female to drive Grave Digger than Krysten. Are you even interested?
“People wait their whole lives for an opportunity to drive a monster truck. I really wanted to at least try it out, sit in the seat one time, and see if it was even in my blood because my brothers took to it really naturally.
“I fell in love with the adrenaline, the horsepower, everything. It just kind of came second nature, having been involved in monster trucks my entire life. So, I put my art portfolio away, and almost four years later now I’m still driving Grave Digger.”
For Anderson, the opportunity to show young girls that traditional gender stereotypes can be broken is important to her.
“I get moms reaching out to me all the time,” she says. “They say really cool stuff like, ‘I just want to let you know that you really inspired my little girl, and you opened a door for her that she thought was closed. She wanted to try out for football, or she wanted to try out for co-ed hockey, and she’s kind of nervous because there’s a bunch of boys on the team. But you race against boys every weekend, and you beat boys.’
“I feel really good being able to open those doors and break the glass ceiling for little girls like that. That makes me really happy.”
Monster Jam will host four Triple Threat Series shows at Scotiabank Arena in 2019: Friday, June 21 at 7:00 PM, Saturday, June 22 at 1:00 PM and 7:00 PM, and Sunday, June 23 at 1:00 PM. Tickets start at $15 and are available at the Scotiabank Arena box office, ticketmaster.ca, and monsterjam.com.