Monster Jam Triple Threat Series
$15 and up
According to a professor at Monster Truck University (MJU) – yes, you read that right — driver
was a most likely to succeed student.
“She’s very tough,” said
, who teaches at the Paxton, Ill., school and is a legendary, champion Monster Truck driver himself. “Cynthia is a super-nice, friendly girl and cute, but she’s got the heart of a lion and she is very athletically fit. She is super strong.”
Gauthier, who helms the Monster Mutt Dalmatian truck, will be here with eight other drivers on April 7-9 at the Pacific Coliseum for the
. A new format to Vancouver fans, the series has drivers go head-to-head in seven different competitions driving three different vehicles: Monster Jam trucks, speedsters and ATVs.
The Maribel, Que., driver’s journey to the high-octane and high-decibel world began with her dad.
“My dad was a fan and he made me a fan of every motorsport,” said Gauthier, who grew up around heavy machinery on the family farm in rural Quebec. “He’s a mechanic, so I grew up in a garage, too, watching him work on cars so I’m not scared of getting my hands dirty.”
Gauthier had planned on a career as a certified public accountant but decided bikes — not bottom lines — interested her and she took up motocross racing. She eventually went on to compete in the Pro Women’s Canadian National Series, but after a series of injuries found herself in the monster truck world working as crew member for Joe Sylvester’s Bad Habit team. After a year of that, she decided she would rather be driving the roaring machine than fixing it.
“I just fell in love with the sport and I wanted to be a driver. I’m really competitive,” said Gauthier, 28.
In 2014, Gauthier did some test driving and earned “a seat” for the 2015 Maple Leaf Tour.
“There is no class, you start as a professional,” said Gauthier of her start. “You learn at the shows. You make a mistake, you learn from it and try not to do it again. You try new tricks and that’s how you grow.”
For those not acquainted with the monster truck world, the custom-designed vehicles are about four metres tall and four metres wide. They ride on giant 168-centimetre tires. They are between 1,500-2,000 horsepower. They are fast, but the best part is the airtime: Monster Jam trucks can fly up to 45-plus metres in length.
Of course, airtime leads to landing time and that can lead to injury. So Gauthier’s approach to protecting herself is a proactive one.
“I work out a lot at the gym. I build muscles so I’m not as sore the next day after a show,” said Gauthier. “We have the same safety as NASCAR. But it’s still an extreme sport, so there is always danger. For me it is less risky than motocross. They say, ‘with the age comes the cage.’ ”
Meents says while it takes an athlete to handle these vehicles, there is a lot more that goes into becoming one of the best.
“They have to drive with their heart. They have to love what they are doing and she does. She loves the fans. She loves driving the truck. Her favourite thing is freestyle,” said Meents, who was the first driver to land a front flip and a double backflip in his Max D truck. “It’s fun to train with her and it’s fun to see her perform and it’s fun to see her at a pit party and meet her and interact with her.”
That interaction part is imperative to this fan-fuelled sport, a sport Gauthier is happy to report is appealing to more and more girls.
“Girls keep saying before they came to the show they weren’t that interested in the sport and now that they see there’s a woman they really want to become a driver when they get older,” said Gauthier. “There’s a lot of parents that say we inspire their kids, (and) that means the world to me.”
Rookie Myranda Cozadin from Davenport, Iowa, will be in the Vancouver lineup driving the Scooby-Doo truck.
“We are a big family and try and help each other, so when I see another woman do well and win that means the world to me,” said Gauthier, who adds there are about 15 women competing at any given time on the various Monster Truck tours.
When she isn’t driving or working on her driving, Gauthier is doing cross-fit training and enjoying a little down time with a new but not surprising hobby.
“I like welding. I’ve been learning how to weld over the last couple of years. I bought my first welder a month ago. I’ve been doing little projects. I just love it,” said Gauthier. “I’m not the typical girl who likes to go shopping. I grew up on a farm. I like to get dirty.”
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