Update: Since this story was published, Grave Digger driver Cole Venard has left Monster Jam.
The first female monster truck driver in Canada says she’s noticed a recent shift in the sport’s audience demographic.
“I’m seeing a lot of moms bringing their daughters to our shows,” Cynthia Gauthier told the Courier during a phone interview from Florida. “They see us driving the same trucks on the same tracks as men and after the show a lot of girls ask us how they can become drivers. That means a lot to us.”
Gauthier will be behind the wheel of Monster Mutt Dalmatian when the Monster Jam Triple Threat Series makes its Vancouver debut at the Pacific Coliseum the weekend of April 7, with a Pit Party taking place Saturday, April 8. Besides Gauthier and Monster Mutt, fan favourite Grave Digger, driven by Cole Venard, will be returning. Other popular trucks and drivers bringing the speed to the Coliseum include Max-D driven by Jared Eichelberger, El Toro Loco driven by Mark List, Zombie driven by Tyler Groth, New Earth Authority driven by Travis Groth, Scooby Doo driven by rookie Myranda Cozad and Mohawk Warrior driven by Bryce Kenny.
At about 12-feet tall and just as wide, Monster Jam trucks are custom-designed machines that sit atop 66-inch-tall tires and weigh a minimum of 10,000 pounds. Monster Jam trucks generate 1,500 to 2,000 horsepower and can fly 125 to 130 feet in distance and up to 35 feet in the air. Because of the sheer size of her truck, Gauthier says she needs to work out regularly.
“Even with the best safety equipment, driving these trucks can be hard on the body,” says Gauthier. “It takes a lot of energy and working out helps me.”
And instead of relaxing after each show, Gauthier uses any energy she has left to help maintain the track at whatever stadium she happens to be at. A fan of big rigs of all kinds, she’s convinced the heavy equipment operators who travel with the show to teach her how to drive massive machinery.
“I grew up on a farm welding and operating machinery,” she says. “So after every show I love to stay and they let me work on the heavy equipment.”
Gauthier started her racing career in Motocross, but after a couple of serious injuries followed by surgery she was forced to fulfil her need for speed in other ways and joined a Monster Jam truck team as part of the crew working to maintain the vehicle. It was the Maple Leaf Tour in 2015, when Gauthier got her first shot at driving. She describes it as a non-dirt show in a small arena in New Hampshire where during her first attempt to race over a crushed car, she found herself upside down. Gauthier managed to right her truck and went on to win the race.
Gauthier says driving a monster truck has affirmed a lesson she wants to share with not only young girls, but all fans of the sport.
“If you put your mind to something and work really, really hard, you can achieve anything you want,” says Gauthier, who admits to driving with a miniature moose in the cab of her truck that acts as her lucky charm.
And so what does Gauthier like to do when she’s not driving monster trucks and heavy equipment?
“I’m a chartered public accountant,” says Gauthier. “I love numbers.”
For more information and tickets, visit monsterjam.com.