Sports

Monster truck driver Nicole Johnson talks rock crawling, four wheeling and positive publicity

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Is there a big difference in driving a monster truck, versus what you're doing with rock-crawling and four-wheeling?

You know, the rock crawler is built to be lightweight and nimble. But the components, mechanically, are very similar. They do a lot of the same things -- it's just on a larger scale. You just have to get over the fact that it's 10,000 pounds, 1500 horsepower and twelve feet tall. A lot of the concept behind how the vehicle works is very similar -- I've been at some crazy angles before and I've jumped my rock crawler before.

Sometimes, all you see is sky when you're driving up a crazy incline. Or maybe all you see is ground when you're dropping off a big cliff. It's really similar to a monster truck. (Laughs.) You just learn to drive by feel and at crazy angles, and so there's a lot of things that cross over and are a benefit. They feel similar. I don't claim to be perfect at it, but it gave me great platform. I'm kind of picking it up nicely.

How long have you been driving for Monster Jam?

This is my third season -- 2011 was my first season. I was in Denver my first season, where I went undefeated in racing the whole time I was out there. So hopefully I can do it again. I don't know -- the guys are getting faster. (Laughs.)

Since you only do this tour for part of the year, do you still feel like there's a community around monster-truck racing that you're a part of?

It's a really big community. I drive "Scooby Doo," which is owned by Monster Jam, Feld Entertainment. They own several of the vehicles that are involved in Monster Jam, so the community, to me, is huge. There are hundreds of people who work for this organization and we're a big family. There are quite a few other independent or what we call "privateer" monster-truck drivers who do come out to Monster Jam. But everyone is really friendly. I'd say that amongst drivers and crew members, we're family.

The fans, too, are just diehards. They welcome us wherever we are. So it's definitely a community feel.
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Bree Davies is a multimedia journalist, artist advocate and community organizer born and raised in Denver. Rooted in the world of Do-It-Yourself arts and music, Davies co-founded Titwrench experimental music festival, is host of the local music and comedy show Sounds on 29th on CPT12 Colorado Public Television and is creator and host of the civic and social issue-focused podcast, Hello? Denver? Are You Still There? Her work is centered on a passionate advocacy for all ages, accessible, inclusive, non-commercial and autonomous DIY art spaces and music venues in Denver.
Contact: Bree Davies