Her World of Monster Trucks, Marriage, Children and Construction
Nicole Johnson, wife and mother, co-owns a construction company and is a professional off-road driver who competes professionally including the Monster Jam World Finals recently.
Born and raised in Ventura County, Calif., Johnson is Portuguese on her father’s side (who was from Hawaii) and her mother is Irish and English, or as the Hawaiians would say “haole,” meaning white person. Her parents divorced when she was young and, when her father moved back to Hawaii, she would spend her summers with him. In honor of this heritage, Johnson gives the Hawaiian shakka (hang loose) hand symbol in pictures instead of thumbs up.
Her off-road career began because her husband Frank “and I have always been avid four wheel drive enthusiasts. He started doing rock crawling competitions in 2000, and I joined in around 2004, driving over big rocks and gnarly terrain. One day before I went pro, I was driving over some moderately sized rocks, when a friend, who had much more experience than me, ran over to yell his disapproval at me. He apparently didn’t believe I could handle the terrain,” Johnson explained, “From that moment, I set out to prove I could do it and I did what it took to become a professional off-road driver. I’ve always been motivated to prove myself when told I couldn’t do something.”
As for Monster Jams, in late 2010 she met Dennis Anderson, legendary Grave Digger creator and driver, who encouraged her to try Monster Jam. “I knew I had to do it.”
She admits that “These days I am most inspired by the young girls I meet at each show and love to demonstrate to them that girls can do anything they set out to do, despite what others think they can do.”
Johnson believes she has a responsibility as well. “With this age of social media, there are always a lot of eyes watching our every move, and I feel it’s important to live by example. As drivers, we all have opportunities to influence young fans. When I see their excitement, wonder and sense of empowerment they get coming to a show, when they see me, a girl behind the wheel, I hope I’m doing something good for all of them. It keeps me going when I am not sure if I can, otherwise.”
She credits her parents and sisters-in-law for their guidance. “My mom and dad are good people, teaching me to work hard, be honest and do the right thing. I have a good relationship with my husband’s sisters and have always been able to lean on them for advice throughout the years. They, too, have good values and I look up to them for keeping me on track.”
She advises women stick with a plan and don’t let other people’s opinion influence any decisions. “For women wanting to get into any male-dominated field, I’d say just remember that you’ll have to work harder than the guys to earn their respect. When I went to work for my dad as a teenager at his car rental business, he told me that he always expected more of me than the regular employees so that I could prove I earned my position.”
She is a graduate of Brigham Young University, and has a bachelor of science in construction management with a minor in business. While she and her husband of 20 years are still currently licensed general contractors, it is no longer their primary business. Because of the changes in the economy over the past few years, they have changed directions. Nicole Johnson focuses on what is important to her and continues to be a Fearless Female.