Youngest Monster Jam Driver Puts the Pedal to Metal & Nose to the Books
Every year, the inescapable TV commercials menacingly growl to herald the return of Monster Jam at the Georgia Dome. This time a certain bittersweet finality hangs in the dusty air as the yearly event will be the last main attraction in the venerable venue.
But one of the happy highlights of the weekend show will feature an appearance by the youngest female in the oil-splattered, and decidedly male-dominated sport.
19-year old GA Tech sophomore Rosalee Ramer has been around monster trucks all her life. This month, the Watsonville, California-bred athlete will be making her Atlanta debut in front of an audience that will include some of her mathematical engineering classmates during what promises to be a raucous completion.
Among the 104 scheduled entrants is her dad, veteran monster truck driver Kelvin Ramer. Before they unscrew the seats for sale as souvenirs, she’ll lead the pack of the imposing 10,000-pound monster trucks. As they flatten the dome, she’ll be striking a major blow for feminism - just by being herself.
INsite caught up with Ramer after a day of classes at Tech.
You were driving monster trucks before you even had a license to drive a car.
Yeah, I got to hop in my dad’s truck when I was 11 and helped him move it into the pit at the end of a show. My dad used to take a nap before shows and I’d always joke and go, “Dad you look kinda tired, maybe I should go out and drive for you this time.” We’d laugh about it, but pretty soon we had a truck that was ready to retire. When it ended up in the shop, we worked on it and I eventually got to drive it for my first show. I was 14 at the time.
That first show must have been an incredible thrill for you. That was 2012?
Yes and it was so crazy, it was set up at an airport and there was a six or seven-foot-tall dirt jump set-up for us. I caught maybe 20 or 25 feet of air my first time out. It was such a huge adrenaline rush!
Were you driving Wild Flower?
It’s the same truck, but then we called it Detour. It’s evolved. I had an idea for a truck with flowers across it when I was still using Detour as the name. But Wild Flower kinda ties into my name so I like to think of it like, roses are super pretty on top. But if you try to pick one, there are thorns underneath. Now that’s how my truck and my firesuit looks. Bright pink flowers all across it but if you look closer, there are these little dark purple thorns along the vines like barbed wire.
After four years of prep, your first Monster Jam must have been a big moment for an 18-yea -old.
For sure. I got to do my first show at the same place my dad did his first Monster Jam, at Angels Stadium in Anaheim, California. That’s been the big start of my year for me, every year for all of my life. It’s our first show in January.
Now you divide your time between classes at GA Tech and Monster Jam shows across the country. That’s a lot to balance.
Well with school, a weekend for me usually starts as soon as my classes end each week. On Thursday afternoon, I’m in a car on the way to the airport. While I’m on the plane, I’ll do my homework. I’ll get to the venue on Thursday night. If the trucks aren’t completely ready, we’ll have to do some maintenance. I’m one of the few drivers who actually work on their own truck.
That must be incredibly time-consuming.
It is. For about every five minutes of play, we do about 60 hours of maintenance on the truck. And doing it yourself definitely helps with the technical aspects of driving. You know how your own truck works so if something breaks during your run, you can compensate for it as you’re driving.
I’m very supportive of women’s rights and causes but I had no idea there were female Monster Truck drivers.
It’s something that never really crossed my mind, either. Growing up in the sport, I was just another one of the kids around. I liked working on the trucks and I just kind of did it, I didn’t really think about it. When I first started getting attention from the media I was kinda surprised. But Monster Jam has a really big connection to the fans. We do pit parties every week and we do meet and greets and everyone is always really supportive.
You’re making a great statement for feminism just by standing up and being yourself.
That’s the way I look at it. I’m not hugely involved in women’s rights or anything like that, I’m just doing what I love. The fact that I can make a difference by doing that is amazing to me. When I get out of that truck, I just want everybody in the stadium to feel as good as I do, because I’m living my dream and they can, too.