Many people with a history of medical illnesses wouldn’t dare to drive a 10,000 pound machine with the task of performing dangerous stunts. However, that didn’t stop Bailey Shea Williams from joining Monster Jam, which roars into Wichita this weekend.
“I’ve always been an adrenaline junkie and after nine years of racing ATVs I just wanted more. I wanted to be in a cage and jumping big. What better way than in a Monster Jam truck?” said Williams, who is from Chillicothe, Mo.
As a child, Williams was diagnosed with cystic fibrosis, a genetic disorder that affects the lungs and other organs and causes difficulty breathing. Doctors predicted Williams wouldn’t live to be 11 years old.
“My parents were terrified. The day the doctors told them I wouldn’t live long, they sold their business and told me I could do anything,” Williams said. “They never stopped me from any dream I had. I was too young to understand. I lived in and out of hospitals for a while so it was really all I knew.”
When she was 8, doctors realized they had misdiagnosed Williams. She actually has chronic pansinusitis, inflammation and infection of all the sinuses.
Williams, now 24, has trouble breathing, but it hasn’t affected her driving career much. She’s the driver of Scooby-Doo, which, as its name implies, is inspired by the popular mystery solving dog. Other trucks competing include Max-D, Blue Thunder, Monster Energy and El Toro Loco.
This is Williams’ first year with the Monster Jam. Spectators will get a chance to see the trucks face off against each other and perform donuts, wheelies and other stunts.
“I’m more than excited to perform in Wichita, it’s so close to home. A lot of friends and family are coming to it,” Williams said.
This tour is called More Monster Jam. It’s different from previous events because it’s a 10-city competition with a points scoring system.
Williams isn’t the only female driver performing in Wichita this year. Becky McDonough is the driver of fan favorite El Toro Loco. The truck features bull horns protruding from the sides of the cab and is painted to resemble a bull.
McDonough knew she wanted to be a Monster Jam driver since she was a freshman in high school. She attended her first Monster Jam event and fell in love.
“I’ve always loved racing and big trucks, and there it was all in one. From that moment on I knew it was what I wanted to do,” McDonough said.
Monster Jam’s stop at Intrust Bank Arena will be special for McDonough because she was born in Wichita and is performing here for the first time.
“My dad and his side of the family still live in Wichita, so I’m looking forward to being back and getting to perform in front of family and friends,” said McDonough, 27.
Williams and McDonough are the only two female drivers performing in Wichita this year, but they see themselves as role models for young girls. Of the 109 drivers on Monster Jam’s roster, there are only eight women.
“I’m trying to prove to young girls that they are capable of anything they set their mind to. No matter how many people doubt your capabilities because you are a female, look past it and go out and prove them all wrong. All you have to do is dream it, believe it and be it,” Williams said.
As one of the few women in a male-dominated sport, Williams has noticed differences with her male colleagues.
“I do see that I have a softer side than most of the drivers, and a soft spot for all the little kids. As far as being capable of driving the truck, I feel like I lack nothing being a girl. Girls can do anything boys can do,” Williams said.
If You Go
More Monster Jam Tour
What: Live motor sport show featuring monster trucks and ATVs
When: 7:30 p.m. Friday, 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. Saturday; 11:30 a.m.-1 p.m. Saturday, interact the drivers with a pit pass
Where: Intrust Bank Arena, 500 E. Waterman
Tickets: $20-$35 for adults, $10-$35 for ages 2-12. Pit passes are $10 ($2 more day of the event), www.selectaseat.com; 1-855-755-7328.