Q&A: Krysten Anderson on her Monster Jam Family Legacy

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Grave Digger driver Krysten Anderson. Courtesy Krysten Anderson

If you happen to drive past the Pepsi Center Feb. 9–11 and hear engines roaring, fans hollering and dust clouds rising up above the stadium lights,there’s no need to worry: Monster Jam has rolled into town.

The Monster Jam Triple Threat Series promises larger-than-life trucks, ATVs and Speedsters, non-stop action and a whole lotta noise. The fan favorite, Grave Digger, will be competing for its 36th year with team legacy, Krysten Anderson at the wheel. Anderson’s father, Dennis Anderson, came up with the concept for the ride in 1981, driving it alongside his two sons, and now, his daughter. We chatted with Krysten Anderson about her passion for driving and competing while carrying on a family tradition.

What does it take to become a Monster Jam driver?
“I got started because my dad is Dennis Anderson and he has been driving Grave Digger for 35 years. He just recently retired and I have two older brothers who also drive, so I had a really good foot in the door. It’s like a family tradition. For anyone else who is trying to try out for Monster Jam, usually you would need to submit a resume through Monster Jam’s website.” 

What does Monster Jam look for in drivers?
“Someone with motorsports experience, but they also look for people that speak well on camera and are very personable. I think it really helps to have prior experience with motorsports; those who have that experience tend to be more successful in Monster Jam. I grew up around motorsports my whole life so it helped me a ton.”

What does tour life look like for you?
“We are on the road and on tour for the first quarter of the year—up until the World Finals in March. Until then, we are gone every weekend. I fly out on Thursdays, and then I come home on Mondays. We do get to come home and do laundry and take breaks and stuff, but for most of the weekend, we are on the road.”

What is it like competing alongside your brothers? 
“It’s really cool because my older brothers are on the road at the same time I am. My brother Adam drives Grave Digger and my brother Ryan also drives a digger so we are all on separate tours; we don’t really compete together but it is pretty cool to know that if I win my series and I get to go to Las Vegas and compete in the big show, I could potentially compete against my brothers.”

What would competing against them look like?
“I don’t know; we don’t have too much of a sibling rivalry—I’ve always kind of been the little sister—so I really don’t know what to expect if we ever line up with each other. I’m sure they wouldn’t take an easy on me though.”

Do you have a favorite element in the competition? 
“For the Triple Threat Series, we have a lot of events, but my favorite would have to be freestyle, the one at the end. My dad and my brothers have always done pretty well in that event and this year I’ve done pretty well myself. I actually have a freestyle streak going right now.” 

What has been your best moment in Monster Jam?
“My favorite moment was last year when we were in Las Vegas and I got to do a backflip with my brothers in the truck for the 35th anniversary encore, celebrating 35 years for Grave Digger and my dad’s career.”

What’s special about the Grave Digger team? 
“Grave Digger has such a strong and loyal fan base and I think that because of my dad and the legacy that he has created, it has become one of the most well-known trucks. And it’s just a really cool truck!” 

You’re the first female driver to sit behind the Grave Digger wheel, what is that like for you and your family?
“I started competing last year and I thought it was really cool because I got to debut my first year in Grave Digger for my dad’s and Grave digger’s 35-year anniversary. It was really cool for me and I got a lot of positive reaction from the fans, mostly little girls that have been fans of Grave Diggers, or their brothers are fans and they come to the autograph line and they get to see that a girl is driving the truck. So I have a really positive female reaction with me being in the truck.”

What do you say to those girls?
“I have a lot of moms come up to me and say, ‘I have a little girl and she wants to play hockey or football and she didn’t think she could and now she feels that, since you drive Grave Digger, she can.’ Grave Digger is the biggest name in the game and it’s mostly just been driven by a male for its entire existence up until now, so it’s really empowering.”

You’re also one of the youngest competitors in Monster Jam, what is that like?
“I am one of the younger competitors; I’m only 20. I don’t really feel too low on the totem pole. Obviously, I have a lot of respect for the older drivers who have been around for a really long time but I’m making my mark as I go along.”

Is Monster Jam in your 10-year plan? Any other big plans for the future?
“Well, my brothers have been driving for so long and my dad drove for so long. I don’t really know what’s next for me after Monster Jam yet. I did just start but I can see myself doing it for the next 10 years. Not that I’ve really thought that far ahead yet, but I can’t really see myself doing anything else.  

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