Monster Jam 2015 rides into the Frank Erwin Center for more car-crushing action on Saturday and Sunday, April 25-26. Some may think that Monster Jam Truck racing is just for the guys, but 24-year-old Bailey Shea Williams is one of TWO female drivers taking the wheel in Austin, bringing new meaning to the term “drive like a girl.” For someone who routinely pops wheelies and catches air in a 10,000-pound truck, Monster Jam Truck driver Bailey Shea is completely down-to-earth. We were lucky enough to catch up with the Scooby-Doo driver on parallel parking, all things Scooby-Doo and the fans who inspire her every day.
Applause Blog: You started out racing ATVs at 15. Did you ever think you’d be behind the wheel of a Monster Jam Truck?
Bailey Shea: In ATVs, I didn’t have a roll cage and I was hurt so much on a quad that I knew my next step was to get inside one—with age comes the cage. I was asked to drive a Monster Jam Truck and the first time I set foot in it, I said yes, this is for me! I’m not switching; this is so much cooler than a race car—it’s what I want to do now.
AB: A few years before your Monster Jam debut, you said you wanted to try your hand at race car driving. Now that you drive a Monster Jam Truck, have you changed your mind about racing other types of vehicles?
BS: I would never give up a Monster Jam Truck for any other type of racing, but if I could do it on the side, I would climb into anything that has a motor.
AB: The typical Monster Jam Truck is about twice the size of the average American car, with three times the horsepower. How did you learn to drive your truck, Scooby-Doo?
BS: Driving the truck is really hard. Nobody knows how hard it really is to drive one of these trucks—it’s so much work! You’re using everything when you’re driving. Surprisingly, transitioning from a quad [ATV] to a truck was very helpful because I understood how to do many of the same maneuvers on a quad.
AB: When you perform vertical tricks, you can’t see the track ahead. What’s it like in the driver’s seat during a race or routine?
BS: I’m strapped in so tight in my seat that the only things I can move are my eyes, my arms and my feet, so I’m not moving anywhere. My windshield’s not very big either, and the hood of my truck has a Scooby nose so it’s hard to see anything. It’s more just getting used to what you’re doing. I can see through the floorboard of my truck, as scary as it sounds. I’m usually looking down where my feet are to see where I am on the track because I can see more down there than I can through my windshield. When I’m in the air doing jumps or turns, I look right at my jump and I just go for it.
AB: Can you parallel park a monster truck?
BS: Funny story—my first time out at Paxton’s [Monster Truck Race Shop], they wanted us to drive through these barriers and told us, ‘If you hit ‘em, we’re shutting you off, because you’ve got to learn how to drive through a building without hitting the walls.’ My first day I was terrible. I knocked them down every single time. So I went home, set up cones and I parallel parked my dad’s truck, my mom’s car, my car, another vehicle… I went back to Paxton and was like, ‘You guys are gonna make fun of me, but I parallel parked every vehicle we own.’ After that, I didn’t hit a single wall!
AB: Monster Jam tours visit cities across North America and Europe. Do the courses differ from venue to venue? If so, how do you navigate races and tricks on unfamiliar tracks?
BS: Our tour, the More Monster Jam Tour, was the first of its kind. For the first 12 weeks we had the exact same track, same layout, same everything for every single show we did. Other tours have different tracks for every show. I was lucky enough to have the same course all summer and for the whole tour. But now that tour is over, so this weekend will be a layout different from anything I’m used to. You go out, you do what you were taught and you learn.
AB: You’ve been a professional adrenaline junkie since you were a teen. Do nerves ever kick in before a show?
BS: My first couple of shows I was super nervous because I was the rookie with people who had driven six to thirteen years. It was so nerve-wracking! I come from a sport where I worked my way to the top. I was good at what I did, but here I am, starting from scratch. I thought, ‘I’m not the best, but I’m learning.’ It is nerve-wracking, but if you can go in confident in yourself, it’s a lot less stressful. Just tell yourself, ‘I’m here to have fun!’
AB: You’re known for your work with kids—from teaching gymnastics to young girls in your hometown to frequenting children’s hospitals. As a role model, what do you hope to convey to your fans?
BS: You have to understand that you can’t win them all. I was on a pro level and I could still get last place or get lapped, but I come off the track with the same smile I went on with. So many kids are watching you. Everybody’s looking up to you and watching you and you really don’t want to be a sore loser. My parents always told me, ‘If you lose, you lose, and if you win, you win, but we still love you the same.’ If you tried and you had fun—that’s all that matters.
AB: With such a positive outlook and a family-friendly brand, you’ve gained quite a following! Do you have any memorable fan experiences?
BS: I have fans that show up and they look like me or they have on Scooby-Doo outfits. They bring me flowers or jewelry that they made and I’ll wear it during the show. It’s just amazing. At every single pit party, my line is never ending!
AB: You’ve been hugely successful in both ATV and monster truck racing. What’s the most rewarding part of your career?
BS: It’s my job, but I really don’t consider it a job. You would think that driving a big Monster Jam Truck would be the highlight of my job, but I got to work with the Make-A-Wish Foundation and I have all these fans who love me, and that is the joy of my job. That’s my favorite part. Driving trucks is just a bonus.
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