One of the biggest stressors in relationships that feature a race car driver is the constant travel. You are, to put it simply, just never at home. But for Darron and Rebecca Schnell, two Hot Wheels Monster Trucks Live series racers —drivers behind the wheels of the Bigfoot and Midwest Madness, respectively — competing against one another means that the road is home.
“If we’re together, I could care less if I ever go home. I’m the happiest I’ve ever been just because we are traveling together,” Darron Schnell said in a recent interview with Jalopnik.
The two met over a decade ago when, as Darron puts it, he was “sicker than a dog” and found Rebecca at a local pharmacy in North Carolina — where, he says, he already started falling for her.
“Darron is so romantic with the story, it’s really adorable to let him tell it first and then I fill in the gaps,” Rebecca said, laughing. “I grew up going to monster truck shows, I love big trucks, I’ve always been a gear head. And then I climbed in his truck, he told me I needed to get out of his truck. And I said, ‘Can I pretty please have a picture up here first?’ And that’s pretty much it for me with him.”
“You said it nicely,” Darron responded, “You handed me your phone and said, ‘I’m getting in your truck. Take a picture.’ Oh, well, I am interested.”
The Schnells both grew up around monster truck racing, but they both took very different paths to get there. Rebecca went to school to become an emergency nurse, then slowly eased into the monster truck scene with her husband until she ultimately became a driver. Darron pursued degrees in both criminal justice and philosophy, volunteering with a monster truck team before becoming a driver himself. But just because the two clicked off the track doesn’t mean they spoke the same language when it came to racing — with both Rebecca and Darron agreeing that communication has been one of their biggest benefits and one of their biggest struggles.
“Her nurse brain is very analytical,” Darron said. “It’s very step by step by step. And she was trying to get me to explain how to do something. What is step one, step two, step three? My brain, I’ve been doing this for many years, it’s put your helmet on, make sure your seatbelts are tight, and go hit something. You’ve got a tremendous amount of driving talent, you’ll figure it out.
“I would try to communicate to her… ‘I felt this in the truck.’ Or ‘I felt that in the truck.’ And she wouldn’t quite understand. Until you drive one of these, you can’t understand. Now she understands a whole different aspect of it and it’s quite honestly the coolest thing in the world to share one of my biggest passions with my wife.”
Talking to the Schnells at the same time, it’s fascinating to see how different these two racers are. Rebecca notes that her quick wit and ability to flourish under pressure have served her well in her racing career. She loves rewatching old footage of her events to understand how to improve. Darron, on the other hand, comes across as much more laid back. He tells me he “couldn’t rationalize a whole season” when I asked him of his goals for this year; instead, he takes things one day at a time, making the most out of his events where he can. And yet both come together to say that their biggest inspiration in monster truck racing has been Dan Runte.
This year, both drivers will be competing in the Hot Wheels Monster Trucks Live series, with the first event taking place on September 18, 2021 in Ontario, California.