Adrenaline fuels Cynthia Gauthier.
If you attend Monster Jam at Broadmoor World Arena, Gauthier will be the one in the Monster Mutt Dalmatian truck, painted to look, naturally, like a dog: white with fierce canine teeth.
The 30-year-old, who was raised in Quebec, Canada, on a diet of racing by her mechanic father, gravitated toward the world of extreme competition, starting with motocross at 18. She bought a bike as soon as she had enough money and competed professionally until serious injuries had her searching for something that wasn’t quite so rough on her body. Monster trucks fit the bill.
“It’s the rare sport that girls and guys compete at the same level with the same machine,” Gauthier said.
The 5-foot-3 blonde, whose English is tinged with her native French language, drives a 12,000-pound truck with 66-inch wheels and 1,500 horsepower. To stay on her game, she regularly does CrossFit. And to wind down after the shows, she hops aboard and operates any number of heavy equipment Monster Jam travels with or uses in the arena. In other words, she can’t get enough of being behind a giant, powerful machine.
The family-friendly shows, which run Friday through Sunday, feature eight drivers (including two women) in head-to-head races; trick competitions, where the crowd votes for the driver with better execution; a donut contest; and a 60- to 75-second freestyle contest, where drivers must impress the crowd with crazy moves.
Gauthier’s go-to trick? Going fast and getting in as many jumps as possible.
She’s competed with Monster Jam since 2015, earning the 2016 Donut of the Year award and the 2018 Rising Star of the Year award. Throughout her tenure, she’s seen an increasing number of female drivers join the ranks, which in turn prompts more women to attend the shows.
“There are girl nights,” she said. “It’s not just a men’s sport anymore. We can do it, too. I’m not scared to go big and show guys I’m not scared to do the same things.”
JENNIFER MULSON, THE GAZETTE, 636-0270, JEN.MULSON@GAZETTE.COM