Whether the competition was a boy or a girl never mattered to Kayla Blood. If you lined up against her, her mindset should have been the best. That mindset she acquired during her youth athletics career continued during her time in the Louisiana National Guard and throughout her MMA career, and now serves her well as a Soldier Fortune Monster Jam Truck driver.
In a traditionally male-dominated sport like Monster Jam, Kayla Blood is one of the women helping the next generation of competitive girls see that there’s nothing they can’t do. After seven years in the Triple Threat Series and running in smaller arenas, he now competes in the Stadium Series.
Muscles and fitness caught up with Kayla Blood to talk about her first year on the Stadium Series, the similarities between stepping into the Octagon and strapping into the Monster Jam Truck, and how she balances motherhood, work, and helping pave the way for the next generation of girls.
Monster Truck Triple Threat
Since you are on a bigger floor in bigger spaces, you will have longer freestyles. We will move from a 60-second freestyle in arenas to a two-minute freestyle in stadiums. When you freestyle in stadiums, it’s no joke at all because you fly higher and it’s just a big mess to control. Two minutes after you finish your run, you can feel it because you’re breathing hard and your adrenaline is pumping. Besides, it’s just wear and tear on your body after all this time. When you’re in these smaller arenas, you’re bouncing around, but in stadiums, you get 30 feet of air in these Monster Jam trucks on the floor of the stadium, so you feel it in your neck muscles at the end of the weekend.
You have to find what you’re more comfortable in – whether it’s with neck braces or a helmet. Everything needs to fit well in Monster Jam Truck and that’s honestly where we’ve gotten better now compared to what it was. We have a lot more safety equipment to keep us in our seats. Our seats are specially designed for us, so it’s like sitting in your own car seat. When you get in there, you strap yourself in as hard as you can. I’m going to take a deep breath and exhale and just squeeze. Even that is sometimes not enough. You’ll find yourself needing to tighten up a little more. I’ll try to get in a bit before the freestyle because I know I’ll have to tighten up once my seat settles. After that, it’s time to rock and roll. We are able to do the craziest things, have the craziest accidents and leave with a smile on our face. You can do massages and other things to help, but I’m pretty busy and busy, so I don’t have as much time for that as I’d like. Also, I like to take collagen because it’s a great thing for joints and recovery.
Kayla Blood is learning by the seat of her pants
Every time you enter these Monster Jam Trucks and participate in different competitions, you learn something new and become more enjoyable. You can end up with a brand new chassis every year and it’s a whole new ball game for you and your crew chief to get together to learn together. Around the second or third event, you should be on track by then. For the rest of the season, turn on your truck and that’s when the fun really starts. I have been driving for seven years and when I get time, I feel much better when I control the truck in the stadium. You don’t have any borders or Jumbotrons to worry about hitting. I love it and it was fun to drive, drive the truck around and turn it in circles without having to worry about any of that. It takes a little skill and a little luck.
To be the best, you have to beat the best
I grew up as a tomboy, racing boys and always trying to be the best no matter what. I grew up running and playing other sports. My coaches always taught me, if you want to be the best, you have to beat the best. I ran track against boys and played basketball against boys. We learned at a very early age that regardless of whether there were males, we would go out and compete just as hard as they did. Being on this stage now is great. We manage to be successful in showing all the little girls that it is possible and even change the perspective of those who don’t believe that women are in motorsport. Seeing is believing and when they testify to our success, it means more than anything.
I was in MMA for a long time, and I sparred with guys. I was in the military with a bunch of guys, and I was just used to it. I guess those experiences shaped me and made me very brave and confident in what I do now. You have to believe in yourself to go out and control the Monster Jam Truck. Let’s face it, women go through a lot of hate and negativity whenever we play this sport. Whenever we’re on the track, all eyes are on us and when we don’t have the best luck, I feel like it’s always a little harder for us compared to the men. But we’re out there learning every chance we get like everyone else. You will have great moments and bad moments, but we will continue to move forward.
Trailblazing A New Path
I didn’t have anyone to look up to and I had to overcome a lot when I was younger. I never thought I’d be in this position, doing what I’m doing today, and it literally just happened because I didn’t give up. Whenever I fell, there was always something inside me that told me to keep going. I will have these girls come up to me when we have Pit Parties before our events — some of the things they tell me and how much it means to them — you don’t realize how many little eyes are on you or how many people you inspire. Sometimes I want to cry because you think you’re having a bad day and you feel like you can’t drive for a few days and there’s a little girl who comes up to you and tells you about this amazing time she had watching you drive and how you’re her favorite driver and that are the things that motivate you to keep going. Once again, seeing is believing. Every single one of these women in Monster Jam is talented and we’re all winners and we beat the boys and prove it. When I win my freestyle races, I get on my truck and do push-ups and the girls go absolutely crazy. I do it exclusively for them.
MMA vs motorsport
Right before you step into the cage, you have to get to know your opponent and you honestly don’t know if you’re going to get spanked or spank someone, and it’s like going to a motorsport. Driving these 12,000 pound trucks, you never know what’s going to happen. You don’t know if you’re going to have a crazy accident or do something amazing. Nerves are always there, and you just have to push through it. You might be a little tipsy at the end, but that’s great. I’ve been hyper competitive all my life and my life would be pretty boring if it wasn’t otherwise.
How Kayla Blood got into Monster Jam Shape
When it comes to motorsports, safety is number 1. Whenever it’s your body, it’s number one. Some motorsport drivers don’t really believe in practicing, but it only makes you stronger in being able to take the bumps and knocks. For me, I recently started doing individualized nutrition where I make sure I have my vitamins and supplements. You want to put back into your body what it no longer creates. If you don’t take care of your body, it will be harder for you to come back from injuries. Exercise also helps mentally because whenever you’re mentally strong, you’re confident because you’ve done the work and you’re at the level you need to be.
I like to run because I am a runner. If I can make it to the track, I’ll do some 400s and sprint some 100s. I also like long distance running, so I will do that. To be completely honest, I’ve never worked out in the gym much enough to feel confident enough to walk in there and know what I need to do. I have a friend that I will go with and help me get through some of the training. I like to focus more on the lower body and abs because you need your legs to push the gas. If you’ve been tied to a truck for a while, you can start to feel it too. I just try to be ready for anything. It’s easier to get to the gym when I’m on the road because of all the things I’m juggling at home. I love when I get to the event on a Thursday because I can go to the gym and everything I need is there.
Kayla Blood balances big trucks and babies
Obviously, my child comes first. Whenever I’m at home, I try to give him all the attention he needs. We have a really close family and we do motocross and many activities together. It’s a day-to-day thing. Whenever he’s at school, I’m up in the morning, take him to school and go straight to work. Maybe sometimes I get to practice and after that, it’s soccer practice and back home to do it again the next day. It’s something you get used to and it becomes your routine. I would say don’t think too much about it and just know what are the important things in your life. If my family is taken care of, everything else kind of falls into place.
Follow Kayla Blood on Instagram @kaylabloodgranger.