Cynthia Gauthier was supposed to be an accountant.
But the loud engines and big wheels of a monster truck were too much to steer away from. Gauthier, who became the first female Canadian Monster Jam World Finals winner, told CTV News Channel she easily “fell in love with the sport.”
“It’s more technical than people think,” she said. Gauthier is one of the female drivers who’ll make an appearance at the Monster Jam in Toronto later this month at the Scotiabank Arena.
A Monster Jam truck weighs approximately 5,400 kg -- with 360 kg wheels -- and typically runs on 1,500 horsepower. What most people might not know is that drivers control the front and back wheels separately.
“It’s just to makes it turn the truck [more easily],” she explained. “It’s so heavy, you can’t just use the front steering.”
Every year, Feld Entertainment produces 350 Monster Jam events, which have been held in nearly 150 cities on five different continents. Gauthier drives the spotted “Monster Mutt” complete with black Dalmatian ears.
But driving dangerous machines is nothing new for Gauthier, who’s been driving dirt bikes since she was 18. “I just fell in love with the adrenaline of racing,” she said, adding she even hit the Ontario and national bike competitions.
Despite Gauthier hurting her shoulder and knees while racing, she started driving off-road and stumbled into the world of monster trucks. She said she didn’t have a lot of training and simply had to “hopefully learn from your mistakes.”
“We have the best safety [crews], it’s kind of like NASCAR,” she said, adding they use a lot of the same safety equipment. “When we’re upside-down, we’re not really afraid. All we think about is just coming back on our four wheels and keeping the show going.”
'DEMAND RESPECT THEN PEOPLE HAVE NO CHOICE BUT TO GIVE IT TO YOU'
Another female driver who’s unafraid is Krysten Anderson, who helms the “Gravedigger” Monster Jam truck driver and said the sport runs in her family.
“My father has been driving for 35 years, and my brothers have been driving for 10 and 15 years,” she said, adding that safety precautions have changed since her father was on the circuit.
“Back then, it was not uncommon for them to face injury but now … we’re always developing new and improved safety equipment,” Anderson explained. “Our job is the only job in the world where actually get in car crashes -- on purpose.”
She feels proud to have taken over her father’s monster truck in 2017 and helped blaze a new path alongside Gauthier. “I always watched from the stands and I kind of knew what I was getting myself into,” she said.
“I think it was kind of cool to break the glass ceiling a little bit."
She added that other women or young girls thinking about taking the wheel shouldn’t be afraid to be “bold and believe in themselves.” Anderson also stressed newcomers need to fight not to “be intimidated in a male-dominated environment.”
“I think if you just walk into a room and demand respect then people have no choice but to give it to you,” she said.
HERE ARE SOME TRICKS FROM CANADA'S FIRST MONSTER JAM DRIVER FINALS WINNER CYNTHIA GAUTHIER