By MIKE CHAIKEN
Kayla Blood has always found herself in a world of competition dominated by men.
Whether she was competing in mixed martial arts or motocross, Blood often was one of the few women on the roster.
But Blood, who is the driver of the truck El Toro Loco on with Monster Jam, said she stepped up to put her skills to the test—not simply because she wanted to strike a blow for women’s equality—but because she’s always been hypercompetitive.
“I have a passion for racing anything,” said Blood, who also put her skills to the test running track in high school and college. “Everything (MMA, motocross, track, and now monster trucks) I did, I tried to push myself and push myself out of my comfort zone,” said Blood.
Growing up in the country, said Blood, racing motor vehicles alsois in her blood.
“I loved everything with a motor in it,” said Blood about her childhood. Her grandfather had a three wheeler that she used to drive around the yard (and, as foreshadowing of her Monster Jam career, she even flipped a few times).
As a woman participating in Monster Jam, which comes to Bridgeport starting Oct. 26, Blood likes the chance to race. But she also relishes being a role model for young girls today. She is happy to show them that they don’t have to be just a pretty face. They can take on the men in any competition— and win as well.
At meet and greets and Pit Parties at Monster Jam, Blood said young girls often will ask her how she got into racing. She said she will tell them how motocross racing set the stage for putting her behind the driver’s seat of the big truck. Then she said she offers them words of encouragement. She said she tells the girls if they are interested in racing, go for it. She said she tells them that if something makes them feel better about themselves, she said, they should pursue it.
Blood is also a role model for her 6-year-old son, who has grown up around Monster Jam most of his life. “He loves it. As he gets older, he gets more and more into it.”
But, Blood said, she is not pushing him to be a monster truck driver like his mom. Blood said her son also likes basketball, baseball, and dirt bikes.
When Blood comes to Bridgeport, she will be driving El Toro Loco. She said she is a perfect fit for El Toro Loco because its drivers have always had the reputation for aggressive driving- a trait which Blood said she shares.
Besides maintaining the El Toro Loco reputation, Blood said she also likes the way El Toro Loco wins over the hearts and minds of the fans. As soon as El Toro Loco rolls out into the arena, Blood said the fans hold up their hands in the shape of bull’s horns. The vehicle also is equipped with a pair of steer horns, said Blood. With the help of CO2 tank, Blood also can send smoke blowing through the truck’s “nostrils.”
“The kids love to see it,” said Blood.
And when Blood and Monster Jam come to Bridgeport, she said fans should expect a “really good show.”
Monster Jam, which is celebrating its 10th anniversary, will be performing at the Webster Bank Arena in Bridgeport: Friday, Oct. 26 at 7 p.m.; Saturday, Oct. 27 at 1 p.m. and 7 p.m.; and Sunday, Oct. 28 at 1 p.m.