Brisbane-based Rhianna Buchanan is taking the Monster Jam world by storm as Australia’s first and only female driver and ambassador. The self-confessed adrenaline-junkie will make her South Australian debut this October for the 2018 Monster Jam Australia – the first leg of the nationwide tour.
Rhianna has always had a passion for all things extreme, growing up on a farm in Queensland with bikes from as young as three years old. She’s racked up an impressive list of accomplishments, including working as a Hollywood stuntwoman alongside Scarlett Johannsen, appearing in movies like Wolverine. She’s also the first Australian female Monster Jam University graduate (yes, there is such a thing) and hopes to inspire more females to get involved in the sport.
We had a chat with Rhianna ahead of her visit to Adelaide.
How would you describe your job?
I like to multi-task. Monster jam rider, announcer, gym owner, stunt rider.
What inspired you to get into Monster Jam?
When you’re little, you always aspire to do the biggest, craziest and coolest things you can think of…but I didn’t think I could make money out of it. I grew up riding bikes and learnt how to drive cars at a young age. It was just about getting out and learning and experiencing what it feels like to lose traction…I loved getting out in anything with a motor.
How did you get into it?
I learnt how to ride with my dad, slowly progressed with my fiancée who had started performing shows, and then the stunt work developed from there. I also announced as well at shows.
From there, my details were passed on to Monster Jam where they were looking for a host so I worked with them for two years as a host. They got to know me and that I gave things a red-hot crack and gave everything a go. Then they gave me the opportunity to go to Monster Jam University [in Illinois] with the opportunity of a role afterwards if I liked it and could handle it.
I’ve always made the most of every opportunity by taking them with both hands. I’ve really learnt my skill sets from those around me, I’ve been lucky to have a lot of great influences along the way which has helped me become the person I am today. I‘d love to pass that onto young kids who are aiming for the stars and be a positive influence in other people’s lives.
What is Monster Jam University like?
It’s where Monster Jam sends all their drivers now, whether they’re teaching them from scratch or whether it’s refresher courses.
It’s a bit of everything…To start off, we learn about the safety side of it – that’s the main priority with Monster Jam – understanding the procedures and protocols and what happens in a situation where we end up upside down.
You learn the basics and then quickly progress through to understanding the race lanes, how the racing component of the night works, and then learning wheelies, doughnuts…so many different amazing things like hitting jumps and learning how to read the track tracks.
What is it like to be the FIRST Australian female Monster Jam driver?
In US Monster Jam, they have about 13 or 14 female drivers, but being the first Australian female to jump on board is absolutely fantastic. One of the best things about Monster Jam is that it’s a level playing field for men and women. We’re all out there doing the best we can, giving it all we’ve got to prove we’ve got the skill.
I’m hoping it opens up more opportunities for women and girls out there looking to excel at something a little bit different. I’m hoping to influence other girls to get out and do whatever it is that drives them… you can do whatever you want if you have the dedication to stick it out and follow your dreams.
What do you love about your job?
I find it really hard to put it down to just one thing. Launching the trucks and getting air is without a doubt an amazing experience. It’s something that I refer back to constantly when I refer back to good times. The crowd love seeing some big air.
Without a doubt, the party in the pit is the standout, too. It’s an opportunity to meet the people who come – it gives us one-on-one time with everyone that comes through…Being able to talk to them and spend that time and get to know the fans is amazing – inspire them to get out there and follow their dreams.
Do you find it scary?
I don’t think its terrifying. It’s definitely an adrenaline rush – I am a bit of an adrenaline junkie. With the training I’ve had, I understand what I need to do and how far I can push myself. It’s more about fun and feeling that rush when we get into the stadium and giving everything an absolute crack. If you end up upside down, you climb out and know the crowd are going to appreciate it just the same.
Describe one of your top ‘pinch-me’ moments…
When Monster Jam said to me ‘we’re looking for drivers for the Wonder Woman Monster Jam truck – you may be driving it’…but there’s been plenty of ‘pinch-me’ moments. I’m absolutely loving every moment.
What can people expect at Monster Jam?
It’s such a fantastic show for anyone…It’s high action, high flying and adrenaline pumping. You see them launching, crashing, doing wheelies and it’s right there in front of you…It feels like you can reach out and touch them. It makes you feel like a seven-year-old child again. There isn’t one person without a grin on their face. You can feel the power of these machines in your chest when you’re sitting there, which is hard to explain so the best thing is to get everyone out there to experience it for themselves.
What do you think of Adelaide?
It’s the second time Monster Jam has been to Adelaide Oval but I was up in the grandstand watching last time… I got to sit back and watch the action. I love Adelaide. It’s such an amazing place, it’s very easy to get around and feels like my home in Brisbane.
What’s next for Rhianna?
Right now, my main focus is October with the Australian Monster Jam tour kicking off again. I’ve managed to tick a fair few bucket list items off over the last couple of years—from the initial Monster Jam truck driving to riding a bike on water – that’s been a dream of mine.
Catch Rhianna and all the thrilling action at the 2018 Australian Monster Jam, Saturday 6 October at Adelaide Oval.