IF YOU GO:
When: 7:30 p.m today, Friday and Saturday; 2 p.m. Saturday and Sunday
Where: Mid-America Center, One Arena Way, Council Bluffs
Tickets: $24 to $37; Mid-America box office, www.ticketmaster.com or by phone at 800-745-3000
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Look up the name Candice Jolly on YouTube, and you'll catch her flying 50 feet through the air in a 5-ton truck that makes a Ford F-150 look like a VW Bug.
You'll see her kicking up dirt, and hear the 1,500-horsepower engine on her rig rev like a Harley on steroids.
Jolly, a 33-year-old mom and former beauty pageant queen, drives a monster truck — one of those souped-up machines with giant tires that crush cars. She'll drive in the Monster Jam show starting today at the Mid-America Center in Council Bluffs.
Like other motor sports, monster truck events have been dominated by men. But Jolly and other women are gaining ground in the monster world, one filled with trucks carrying testosterone-laced names like Gunslinger, Stone Crusher and Grave Digger.
Jolly is one of eight female drivers on the Monster Jam circuit, and the first to perform in a Monster Jam event in the Omaha area.
Lee O'Donnell, a fellow Monster Jam driver, said Jolly is better than a lot of guys on the tour.
“They do not like to hear that,” he said. “But that's the reality.”
O'Donnell said Jolly and the other female drivers are helping broaden the appeal of Monster Jam by drawing more moms and daughters. He has daughters, ages 5 and 9, and they are big Jolly fans.
Jolly will be driving her Monster Mutt Dalmatian truck, and she is pumped to mix it up with the boys. She's been doing it her whole life, starting as an 8-year-old racing go-karts in her home state of Florida, and then stock cars and dragsters. She's always heard people say girls can't compete against boys, but she's always proved them wrong.
She comes from a family of racers, and they set a great example. Her grandma and mom both raced swamp buggies in Florida. Her sister has driven in Monster Jam, and her dad races dragsters.
Growing up in Naples, Fla., Jolly did typical kid things like playing softball, and she raised pigs for 4-H. She competed in beauty pageants and even for Miss Florida when she was 21, finishing in the top 25.
But racing was a huge part of her life growing up, and just about every weekend her family would hit the track.
Jolly remembers watching from the stands as her mom tore around the dirt in a swamp buggy, and she won't ever forget the sign on the side of it: “Never underestimate the power of a woman.”
When Jolly started racing go-karts she weighed only 60 pounds. Her 160-pound kart hit speeds of 45 mph and sat just two inches off the track.
She remembers the sound of the engine whining and the feel of the kart vibrating as she sped around the track. She was just a kid but already knew she loved the thrill of racing.
Her dad bought Jolly her first kart and encouraged her to compete, even though she'd be the only girl in the races. Dads whose sons raced would tell Jolly's father he should keep his girl away from the track.
“He said, 'my little girl will out-drive your little boys,' ” she said.
Soon she did.
At 9 years old, Jolly remembers driving her kart at a track in Sarasota, Fla. One boy had won every race for two years straight. Jolly beat the boy, who cried because he was so upset.
She went on to win national go-kart championships, capturing her first when she was just 11.
And she's still making boys mad.
Just a few weeks ago during a Monster Jam event in Minneapolis, Jolly beat a male driver who was so angry he wouldn't talk with her after the race.
Jolly, who still lives in Naples, is married and owns and manages a seafood restaurant in Everglades City, Fla. She has an 8-year-old son named Chase who races karts and sometimes travels with her.
She's not sure whether her son will stay with racing like she did, but whatever he takes on in life she hopes she's setting a good example.
“You can do anything,'' she said. “You just have to keep trying.”
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Monster Jam Trucks
» Height: 12 feet » Width: 12 feet » Length: 20 feet » Weight: 10,000 pounds » Tire height: 66 inches
» Engines: Custom-built, supercharged and methanol-injected with horsepower of 1,500 to 2,000
» Driver's seat: Most are in the middle of the cab for weight distribution and to help the driver see better. » How far can trucks fly?: Trucks can fly up to 130 feet through the air, and 35 feet up.
» How do Monster Jam shows work? Trucks face off in two different events: side-by-side racing and freestyle.
Source: Monster Jam