When Candice Jolly started racing go-karts as a kid, she didn’t have many female role models in the competitive driving field.
Drivers were predominantly men, and her father heard from other dads that little Candice should be home playing with dolls.
But Jolly and her dad didn’t listen, and today, as one of 10 female Monster Jam drivers in a pool of 120 competitors, she’s gained a world following.
Jolly and 15 other drivers will perform at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome on Saturday starting at 7 p.m. Tickets start at $10. Before the show, fans can attend Party in the Pits on Saturday from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m., when fans can get a close look at the trucks and meet their favorite drivers.
“It’s a male-dominated sport, by all means,” Jolly said. “But at least now there are 10 of us. The girls have been kicking butt this year, too. We’ve had more wins across the board for females than ever.”
Jolly has quickly become one of the most popular drivers in the sport with her unique truck designed to look like a giant Dalmatian puppy. Equipped with a tail, floppy ears and a tongue that slips in and out beneath the hood, it’s “absolutely the cutest Monster Jam truck by far,” Jolly declared.
But don’t let the adorable vehicle fool you. The trucks are dangerous, and their drivers perform incredible feats.
Jolly’s truck boasts 1500 horsepower, sits atop 30-inch nitro shocks and rides on 66-inch BKT tires. The entire rig weights 10,000 pounds, and it often sails 30 feet into the air after hitting the jumps.
“I feel like Wonder Woman in that truck,” Jolly said. “I really do. Everyone is always like, ‘Aren’t you scared?’ And I say, ‘No, all I want to do is fly.’ ”
Male or female, young or old, all fans can find a driver they can identify with, Jolly insisted.
“Each show has a racing competition, a freestyle competition, and then usually a little extra added in there. ... It doesn’t matter if you’re 2 or 102, there is something for you to like and enjoy at Monster Jam.”
Jolly said she has something to prove in New Orleans. The first time she drove here, she lost by one point.
“I’m very excited for New Orleans,” Jolly said. “I’ve been there three times now, I think. It was one of my very first stadiums that I almost won. ... I’m seeking some redemption in New Orleans.”
Though she’s pursuing the white-knuckle thrills, Jolly said she and the other drivers also enjoy talking with the fans. They are often deep-studies of the sport, knowing how each racer did in other Monster Jams.
But it’s meeting fathers or daughters that Jolly finds the most inspirational. They remind her of the way she got her start, with love and encouragement from her dad.
“They are just absolutely die-hard fans,” she said, “which is great for us because I have so many dads who have come to shows and said, ‘Thank you so much for teaching my little girl that she can be anything she wants to be.’ ”