Being one of the few female members of the “Ice Road Truckers” cast, Lisa Kelly garnered a lot of attention during her time on the show. It’s not easy to gain respect as a woman in such a male-dominated field, but Lisa has proven that she has all it takes to be successful in this business. In this video, we’ll explore more about her, and what drove her to choose a career as a truck driver.

Lisa Kelly Wiki Bio

Lisa was born on 8 December 1980, in Grand Rapids, Michigan. When she was only six years old, she, her brother and their parents moved all the way to Sterling, Alaska, where they started a new life off-the-grid, on a small farm. Growing up in such a place, Lisa spent a lot of time outdoors, and quickly learned how to be self-sufficient.

During her high school years, she worked at a local family-run gas station, where her job required her to do various tasks, ranging from being a cashier to pumping propane. After matriculating in 1998, Lisa moved back to her home state of Michigan to study at Cornerstone University. however, after only one semester, she figured out that college life wasn’t for her, and so returned to Alaska.

She actually planned to continue her education at a specialty school, but eventually gave up on that idea, because she wanted to spend more time with her then-boyfriend. This proved to be one of the most significant decisions in her life, as it eventually led to her becoming a truck driver. She continued working at the same gas station as before, and it wasn’t until her next job at a pizza place that she discovered her love for driving, and being on the road.

That’s when she decided to give trucking a try, and started working as a delivery driver. As her boss refused to let her drive a bigger truck instead of a van, Lisa went looking for more work, and landed a job as a bus driver. She was now one step closer to driving trucks professionally, but it took her another year of trying until an Alaskan haulage company called Carlisle Transportation, finally gave her a chance. Being a woman, it took a while for them to take her seriously. ‘I had to work twice as hard. I had to pull my weight and everybody else’s, and get the job done as fast, or faster’, she revealed in one of her interviews.

Lisa Kelley on “Ice Road Truckers”

Lisa made her first “Ice Road Truckers” appearance years later, in season three (2009). At the time, History Channel was specifically looking to cast a first woman on the show. In her later interviews, Lisa opened up about her casting on the series, saying that she felt like she was only cast to be ‘the eye candy’, and that she wasn’t being taken seriously, but this didn’t discourage her, instead motivating her to work even harder than her male peers.

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She went on to appear in seasons four, five and seven, and also took part in the series’ spin-off, “Ice Road Truckers: Deadliest Roads”, which was set in the Himalayas and South America. Up until season five, Lisa was the only woman on the show, until she was joined by Maya Seiber who was featured in only one season of the show.

Speaking of Lisa’s absence from “Ice Road Truckers” season six, it appears that she was simply taking a break from driving and TV. According to a show’s producer, she was offered a contract to appear on the show, but declined for personal reasons. She made her comeback in season seven, and stayed on the show until its conclusion in 2017. In 2010, Lisa was joined by another female driver, Stephanie Custance.

In her spare time, Lisa enjoys riding dirt-bikes and participating in extreme sports such as skydiving and hang gliding. Her love of motorsports led to her meeting her future husband Traves Kelly, at a motorbike store where he worked as a salesman. The two married in 2008, after dating for close to four years. They share a home in Wasilla, Alaska, where they take care of their horse stable, and several pet dogs and cats.

Lisa’s time on “Ice Road Truckers” led to her making numerous appearances in other media, including her iconic guest appearance on “The Late Show with David Letterman”. She also posed for covers of several magazines including “Overdrive”, while the magazine “Esquire” named her ‘the sexiest trucker alive’. Through her time on the show, she proved that a woman can be successful in the field, and opened the door for female colleagues to appear on the show.

Where is she now?

Now that it’s been more than five years since we last saw Lisa on “Ice Road Truckers”, some things have changed in her life, but not her passion for driving. In a 2021 interview, Lisa revealed that she has since left Carlisle Transportation, and now works for another supplier. Her usual route goes across Alaska, from Kenai to Prudhoe Bay, spanning over 1,500 miles, well over 2,000kms.

Lisa further revealed that she’s stayed on good terms with some other members of  the “Ice Road Truckers” cast, most notably Todd Dewey with whom she is close friends. She also often runs into Phil Kromm and Todd Dewey during her drives, although they’ve continued working for Carlisle.

Posted by Ice Road Truckers – Lisa Kelly on Friday, January 11, 2019

According to Lisa, working has become somewhat harder in the recent years, due to snow lingering for longer than usual. This impacts the amount of work she can take on, although local government has been making improvements to the roads making them less dangerous to drive on.

Speaking of a possible return to TV screens, Lisa has stated that she’s open to appear on another show similar to “Ice Road Truckers”, or even in the original series – if it ever gets renewed for another season.

As of September 2022, Lisa’s net worth has been estimated at more than $500,000.

Lisa Kelly’s truck

During her time on the show, Lisa drove several different trucks, although most of them were Kenworths. The brand is known for making heavy-duty trucks suitable for ice roads, and as a result, Liam Neeson can be seen driving one in the movie “The Ice Road”.

Today, Lisa drives a Freightliner Coronado, a class eight conventional truck.

Where are other female cast members today?

Similarly to Lisa, season five star, Maya Sieber still has a successful career in the trucking field. Born in New York City, Maya has been around trucks for her whole life, since her father was also a truck driver. However, it wasn’t until later in life that she entered the field herself; her first career choice was actually modeling. In her twenties, Maya obtained a commercial license and started working locally, in New York State. After three years of truck driving, she was cast to appear on “Ice Road Truckers”.

After her appearance on the series, Maya moved away from icy Alaska to New Jersey, where she works for the family business Pyskary Bros. She has also been dabbling in modeling again, appearing in the music video for Jayne Dnaham’s song, “Black Coffee and White Lines”, alongside Lisa and their “Ice Road” co-star Caarey Hall.

Another star of the show, Stephanie Custance made her mark on the series, not only by being one of the few female cast members, but also by being the youngest ever trucker to appear in the series. At the time of debut, Stephanie was only 22 years old, but had already been working on dangerous Alaskan roads for more than a year. Being so young, more experienced driver Todd Dewey took her under his wing to guide her career. On the show we saw her in many sticky situations, but her talent for driving got her through, and she always got the job done perfectly.

Stephanie is apparently still working in the field, while balancing her life as a single mother. However, it appears that her career choice has paid off, as she reportedly has a net worth of more than $800,000. As of late 2022

Why did “Ice Road Truckers” end?

“Ice Road Truckers” is known as one of the most successful History Channel series. Following a ‘fly-on-the-wall’ documentary format, the show earned praise from TV critics, along with high viewership.

In 2000, seven years before “Ice Road Truckers” was made into a fully-fledged TV series, History Channel aired a 46-minute documentary of the same name, as a part of their “Suicide Missions” series (later renamed “Dangerous Missions”). Based on the book “Denison’s Ice Roads” by Edith Iglauer, the episode detailed the risky job of driving trucks across frozen lakes of North America.

In 2006, the “Deadliest Catch” producer, Thom Beers was hired to make a series with the same premise. It quickly became a hit among viewers, with the premiere episode being watched by more than 3.4 million viewers in the US alone – the highest viewership of any History Channel series at the time. ‘Everything about “Ice Road Truckers” is astonishing. Watching these guys make their runs, it’s hard not to share their cold, fatigue and highway hypnosis.’, wrote Virginia Hefferman of “The New York Times” for her review of the show.

After a successful 10-year run, “Ice Road Truckers” came to an end in 2017. Unfortunately, cast members and fans of the show alike didn’t get a chance to properly say goodbye to the series, as it didn’t have a pre-planned finale, and was instead just never renewed by the network following season 11.

Alex Debogorsky, one of the main stars of the show, has revealed that he wasn’t up to speed on network’s plans for the series. He took to Facebook to voice his frustration saying: ‘Those TV guys from Hollywood are a bunch of bums! You would think they would call and say kiss my rear, hello…I guess the show is in the dust bin of history [pun intended].’

The network never gave an official explanation for shelving the series, but it has been widely speculated that they gave up on producing more seasons since the costs of filming became too high to sustain, due to the declining viewership. Others have speculated that the series was replaced by “Truck Night America”, which premiered in 2018 and took the timeslot previously held by “Ice Road Truckers”.

Although the series hasn’t been aired for five years now, it appears that there might still be a chance for another season. When asked about the future of the show, one of History Channel executives revealed that actually ‘no decision has been made yet on future seasons’, leaving a bit of hope for long-time fans of “Ice Road Truckers”.

Dangers of ice road trucking

Driving across frozen lakes is one of the most difficult and dangerous jobs in the world. Every year, at least one truck goes through the ice ,posing a real threat to the driver’s life. To avoid situations like this, drivers must make sure that they are following the speed limits, which can be as low as 10mph/15kph;  if they fail to do so, they may cause the water underneath the ice to build enough pressure to come out through the top. Stopping and turning off the truck is never an option either, as the fuel in the engine can quickly freeze, while the tires stick to the ice.

The sound of ice cracking as the heavy loaded tucks travel over the lake sends chills down the viewers’ spines. However, to professional ice road drivers, this sound is actually a good sign – it shows that the ice beneath is thick and sturdy enough to sustain the loaded vehicle. Furthermore, the cracks in the ice will fill with water from underneath and refreeze, in turn making the road safer for future drives. On the other hand, a lack of ‘cracking’ signals that the ice is too soft for driving. In that case, the area is sprayed with water to increase the solidity of the ice.

Another threat to the drivers’ safety are the heavy blizzards that accompany Alaskan and Canadian winters. While the cold temperatures make the frozen road sturdier, blizzards increase the change of an accident by lowering the visibility on the road significantly. To prevent accidents, ice roads are always monitored for blizzards, and in the case that conditions on the road are deemed too unsafe for driving, the road is temporarily closed.

Luckily, no big accident has ever happened on “Ice Road Truckers”, partially due to the series producers making sure that the drivers have emergency services at their fingertips. The drivers are never alone on the road either, always accompanied by an experienced colleague in the passenger seat.

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