Meet the Two Rookies that just Graduated Monster Jam University
Authored by Samuel Reiman on December 8, 2022
The 2023 Monster Jam season will consist of five domestic tours featuring 48 drivers. While the likes of Tom Meents (Max-D), Ryan Anderson (Son-uva Digger) and other former champions were announced as part of the 2023 lineups, five fresh new faces are gearing up for their rookie season of Monster Jam competition:
- Joe Foley (AXE)
- Mikayla Tulachka (Megalodon)
- Hunter Souza (EarthShaker)
- Jamie Sullivan (Monster Mutt Dalmatian)
- Ashley Sanford (Megalodon)
Of these five rookies, two of them are recent graduates of Monster Jam University. Jamie Sullivan and Ashley Sanford both attended MJU in 2022, which consisted of various classes at the Feld Entertainment facility in Florida and behind-the-wheel training sessions with Tom Meents up in Paxton, Illinois.
“I actually came out for an audition in 2019 before there was even anything on the table,” recalled Ashley Sanford. “But then COVID happened, so it didn’t go anywhere, and that’s when this summer I got another call saying ‘Hey, would you still be interested,’ and it was an immediate yes.”
Sanford is no stranger to speed, having started her racing career behind the wheel of top fuel dragsters. However, wrestling a Monster Jam truck was a new experience for her.
“It was 12 training days, just getting to live and breathe Monster Jam trucks with Tom Meents. I feel like it doesn’t get better than that. We did the basics, got comfortable in the trucks, racing passes – a lot of racing passes! Lots of sky wheelies, getting comfortable with Freestyle and turning quicker than you think you need to turn.”
“I know I am going to be so timid and scared and nervous at my first event. But to me, if you’re not getting those feelings then you’re not totally loving what you’re doing.
“This is a whole new ballgame for me. I’m just going to do my best. I know I’ll be making a lot of mistakes – I call it learning lessons – along the way. And yeah, I’m hoping by the end of the season I’ll be the driver that I really aspire to be.”
Fellow MJU graduate Jamie Sullivan will also be experiencing a full Monster Jam season for the first time. However, unlike Sanford, this will not be Sullivan’s first time behind the wheel of a monster truck.
“I have experience with the independent team, Razin Kane Monster Trucks, I actually drove the FTI Torque truck back in January to April of this year,” explained Sullivan. “It kind of prepared me a little bit for the MJU experience, but learning the pod and just different tactics that Tom had was completely different. It was awesome because I had some knowledge going into it, and he helped a lot, I mean, he got me out of some bad habits I had as well.”
Jamie Sullivan will be competing in Monster Mutt Dalmatian in Arena Championship Series Central, where she will be up against the likes of reigning Monster Jam World Finals Racing Champion Brandon Vinson in Grave Digger.
“I’m really super competitive, so I’m going to try and do the best that I possibly can, even though I’m the only one on the tour that hasn’t been in a Monster Jam event at all.
“Racing is my background, I came from circle track racing, but I know Brandon is the World Champion of Racing so, for me, being able to compete with him during my rookie season is probably going to be my biggest challenge.”
Sullivan’s busy schedule won’t end when the checkered flag flies, as she is also a UNOH student and will be working on her Bachelor’s degree during her free time.
All five domestic Monster Jam tours kick off on the first weekend in January, with events in Salt Lake City, Greensville, Nashville, San Diego and Oakland. Visit the tickets/schedule page to see when Monster Jam is coming to a city near you!