Linsey Read is more hardcore than you. She’s more hardcore than me (that should go without saying). She’s, without a doubt, one of the most fearless people I’ve ever me. When she’s not off-roading in her husband’s tricked out Jeep, or metal building, she travels around the country driving a 10,000 pound truck for fun. A truck she’ll purposefully flip over, or drive on two wheels, just for kicks (and the amusement of thousands of people). She’s one of the few (but growing) female monster truck drivers.
D.C. is just one stop among many on a tour that will last 15 weeks, but Read’s excitement is palpable. As we talk about Monster Jam University (a real thing!), family rivalries and how it feels to be one of the few women in a male dominated industry, she responds at full throttle. Nothing slows her down.
What was your first job?
I worked at a place called Adventure Zone. It was a family fun center and I was a party host, so I pretty much did all of the kids birthday parties. From, you know, singing happy birthday, to doing the cake celebration and all that. I guess entertainment just ran in my whole line of work.
Entertainment and adventure.
There you go. I like that
Did you like the job?
I loved it. I thought it was so cool. It was a lot of fun, you know, I enjoyed seeing a smile on the kid’s faces.
How did you get brought into Monster Jam?
So in my hometown, El Paso, Texas, there’s a Monster Jam show and they let local people go out onto the track with their street legal trucks. What you do is you race on the track during intermission, its kind of like a filler for them. So I did that two years in a row and the second year I did really good. I got in second place and everybody was like, “Dang, this girl can drive.” So it was really cool because I had a bunch of the drivers come up to me and ask me if id be interested in something like that, and my response was like, “Who doesn’t want to drive a monster truck?” Like come on now. So I did. I went and I started testing and went through Monster Jam University and then I got my first ride in 2016 with Scooby-Doo.
That’s wild. Let me backpedal, what is Monster Jam University?
Monster Jam University is run by Tom Meents. He’s an eleven time world champion he drives Maxi [Maximum Destruction]. What you do is, you go down there for about a week at a time and he teaches you all the safety equipment. How to put your helmet on, or any kind of neck brace, how to strap in properly so that you don’t get hurt, how to start the truck and then you just go through basics. How to race, the wheelies, or two wheel skill, the doughnut competition and how to do a freestyle. First he’ll put a course together for you, and tell you what to hit and what to do, then he just lets you do your own thing and critiques you, just to make you a really good driver
Were you at all nervous the first time you got strapped into the car?
Oh my gosh, yeah, I felt like I couldn’t breathe. I sat in there just so nervous. My adrenaline was going so hard, but it was an amazing experience. I don’t that there are any words that you could put in to explain how cool it is to be able to do it.
What do you think is the most technically challenging aspect of driving a monster truck?
So, there’s a new thing called the two wheel skill competition. It’s where you get your truck on either the front two tires, the rear two, or even on the side, they call that a bicycle. It’s so technical, to balance a 10,000 pound truck on its nose is not an easy task. So that’s a lot of what we practice at Monster Jam university.
That’s cool. Do you go back Monster Jam University in between touring?
Yeah. Last year I went during the summer when I didn’t have anything else going on so I could practice new moves, or new techniques, I wanted to do. We have a refresher course so you can go back and try what you want to try. You know, work on being a better driver all around.
What is your favorite part of being a Monster Jam driver, what makes you want to get on the road and tour?
My biggest thing… When I used to go watch the shows all the time I saw this girl, Candice Jolly, she still drives today. She’s Monster Mutt Dalmatian. I saw her and I thought she was the coolest thing ever. I was like, look at her out there competing with all the guys. She puts on a great show every time, so every time I watched her I was like, I want to be that person. I want to influence girls to go out there in a male dominated sport and do a great job. I have three daughters of my own, so I want go out there and show them that I can do this too. Like I was saying earlier, I bring my daughter to every show with me. I get to look up in the stands and see her clapping and cheering for me and that to me is the best feeling in the world. To be able to bring that kind of joy, not just to my own kids, but to all the kids that go to the shows.
That’s really lovely and I’m glad you brought it up it is a really male dominated industry. How does it feel to be a woman in the sport? What’s your relationship with the other women you work with?
This year we have more female drivers on my tour than we ever had. We have three, so it’s really awesome. We uplift each other all the time. I always tell them how good of a job they’re doing, and they tell me the same thing. You know, its not just the females… the males are really supportive. In my first year, I was with Randy Brown, he was so good at teaching me new things and easing my nerves. Really, Monster Jam is such a family event, not just for everybody that comes, it’s a family for us on tour. We’re going everywhere together and we’re on tour for 15 weeks at a time. I think it’s cool that we can all be such a tight knit family, but when we get on the course and the helmets go on, it is competitors to a T.
Why do you think more women are drawn to the sport these days?
I think that the girls who started this, they showed that they could do it. I think that women just want to show that they can be a part of it. I think it’s so great that they’re getting into industries that were never really a female industry before. Like, I’ve gotten overall event championships now and I think that’s so cool because when you go to a show you think, okay big trucks, this is a guy thing. The guys are going to win. Then you see a girl pull it off, you’re like holy crap that is so cool. I just like being that girl, that person, for everybody.
To backpedal a little bit can you tell me about the first car you ever had?
The first car I ever had… Oh my gosh. It was a ’89 Cutlass Sierra. It was a junker, but you know, I had to get from point A to point B. I had to do my Adventure Zone thing somehow.
Are you a car person?
Not really. I have a Jeep at home now… I drive a Jeep Wrangler. That was my dream car and I finally got it so I’m happy with that.
That’s my dream car.
I love it and we go off-roading in it all the time. My husband has a real built up Jeep, so we go beat his up more. Mine is more my pride and joy. I just drive it on the street.
So both of you are pretty adventurous, pretty thrill seeking?
Oh yeah definitely. He’s riding for Monster Mutt Dalmatian this weekend. He’s the quad rider for her, so his points go to her overall as well. It’s like a dog against dog family thing, i’ts really cool.
What’s it like to be in the industry together?
It’s awesome. This year he’s doing quads, but last year he was a crew guy for Gravedigger. We’ve always had a little competition together. It’s always an interesting topic at dinner when you sit down and you’re like, “My driver did this better than your driver.” He competes against me, but he backs me up 100%. He is my rock in this. Anytime I’m nervous, I just go to him and he puts me at ease and tells me I’m doing a great job.
That’s really lovely. Do you have any music you listen to or things that you do before a show to get ready?
My big thing is, I like to walk the track. It’s the same track every weekend, but it’s always a little bit different because the dirt is gonna be different everywhere we go. So I go out and I analyze how I’m going to hit stuff and what I’m going to do in freestyle, key things I need to know before I go out there. I’d hate to go out there and make the wrong turn and flip over for no reason.
What’s tour life like?
We all hang out together. As soon as everybody gets here, we all meet up and just do our thing. It’s fun. We go exploring a lot, that’s a big thing everybody loves to do, is go sightseeing. Here we get to go see all the monuments… And there’s a lot of places that we haven’t been before so we’ll have certain people research things… They’re sort of like the tour guides.
What do you like to do in between touring?
I work with my husband, so me and him we do metal building and stuff like that. We travel around and put up metal buildings together. When we’re not out doing my job, we’re doing his job and we travel everywhere together.
Are your kids, are they into monster truck driving? Do any of them want to be drivers?
You know, I don’t know if they want to or not. I have an 8-year-old and a 4-year-old, they’re my stepdaughters and they’ve never seen a show in person. They get to this year, finally we’re close enough to home so they can go, but they see videos all the time and they think it’s the coolest thing ever. I’m hoping one day they’ll want to do something like that… But my youngest, she’s about to be 2, she’s a thrill seeker. We are going to be in for a long lifetime with that one. She already has the little Power Wheels Monster Jam truck and she drives around the backyard like a crazy wild woman.
You and your husband are obviously adrenaline junkies… But is there any career your daughter could get into that would scare you? Like “I know I was a monster truck driver, but you cant do that.”
I don’t think so. I think I’d back her up on anything she wanted to do. If it’s dangerous, I know that she would take the right safety precautions. Anything she wants to do, I’m gonna back her on it because that’s the way my mom was with me. She was scared to death when I told her I was going to go drive monster trucks, but then she saw how safe it was and she was like, “Okay, I can do this.”
Who would you say your inspiration in the field is?
I would have to go back to Candace Jolly. She was the first female I ever saw do it and to this day I look up to her. I think she’s a wonderful person. She’s so good with kids in the pit party lines and everything, and she is just an all around amazing driver. I just strive to be like her.
What do think the hardest part of your job is?
I would say traveling. First quarter is really busy for us, like I said it’s every weekend for 15 weeks straight. It’s kind of hard taking the little one traveling, but it’s so rewarding having her there. At the end of the day, it’s all worth it.
Are you a book person? Are you a podcast person? What are you listening to when you’re stuck in the truck traveling from destination to destination?
I’m a Pandora person.
Alright. What kind of bands? What’s on your radio?
I’m so random… I go anywhere from 90s pop, we do some Nickelback and we do a lot of country. We’re country folk. My husband used to ride bulls professionally, so we are very into that scene as well. It just depends on what kind of mood I’m in.
You’re the Scooby-Doo truck. Do you have any creative control did you pick that truck? Was it assigned to you? What’s that situation like?
It came out before I started driving. Nicole Johnson was the originator of it, so they just chose me to be in Scooby-Doo’s spot. I didn’t design anything for it, but I like to try and promote it because it’s such a kid friendly truck. When you see it in person, it’s so cool because its got the ears, its got the tail that wags when I go around the track. It’s so kid friendly and they love it.
It must be really exciting for your daughters.
Oh yeah, but now that we have another dog on the tour she’s starting to go towards Dalmatian… and things have got to end there.