In iconic Grave Digger family, daughter is now in driver’s seat
While growing up as the only daughter of Grave Digger creator Dennis Anderson, Krysten Anderson never imagined herself following her dad and her brothers into the driver’s seat. Instead, she intended to study art in college and become a graphic designer for Monster Jam, designing logos and paint jobs for the trucks.
But her career path took an unexpected turn in 2016, when she was contacted by Monster Jam University, an actual monster truck driving school in Paxton, Ill., operated by Maximum Destruction driver Tom Meents.
“They said they had a seat coming open and asked if I wanted to audition,” Anderson recalls. “I didn’t want to say no. I had such a huge foot in the door.”
This weekend — less than three years after getting that call and less than two after making her live debut — Anderson will pilot Grave Digger when Monster Jam returns to Spectrum Center. She’s one of two female drivers at the event.
“I’ve met a lot of little girls and changed a lot of minds,” Anderson says. “I get messages from them or their moms on social media. Grave Digger is the most iconic truck in Monster Jam to date. I’m the first female in 35 years in the driver’s seat. And I’m only 21. So when I started, I was very relatable to a lot of young girls in the crowd.”
Now that she’s part of the business, she sees just how die-hard fans are.
“It’s insane,” she says of the worldwide popularity of Monster Jam, which now keep fleets of trucks in Europe, Asia, Australia and South America to avoid the expense and logistics of shipping them. “I’ve met people with tattoos of my dad and the truck. I went to a show in Finland, and it was the same feeling when we’re home here. People on the other side of the world know what it is.”
And as of 2019, her name appears on the truck’s tombstone along with the names of her brothers Adam and Ryan.
“It’s taken me a while to swallow it. When you’re around it so much, you become desensitized,” she says. “It’s Grave Digger. It’s my dad.” (Dennis Anderson sold Grave Digger to what’s now Feld Entertainment in 1998, around the time she was born.)
But she also dreams of one day carrying on the family tradition — and the Grave Digger tradition — in her own truck, like her brother Ryan’s Son of a Digger.
“I would always want to be a part of the Digger team,” she says. “Maybe do my own female version of Grave Digger, with more pinks and purples — and my own identity.”