Bigfoot (truck)

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Bigfoot
Big foot.JPG
Bigfoot racing in Arizona
Owner and Driver Information
Owner Bob Chandler
Driver(s) Dan Runte, Rick Long, Ron Bachman, Rodney Tweedy, Nigel Morris, Alan Hartsock, Eric Meagher, Eric Tack, Keith Sturgeon, Jerry Dalton , Brian Bertoletti, Amber Walker
Home city Hazelwood, MO
Truck Information
Year created 1975
Body style Ford F series

Bigfoot, introduced in 1979, is regarded as the original monster truck. Other trucks with the name "Bigfoot" have been introduced in the years since, and it remains a well-known monster truck moniker in the United States. Bigfoot 4×4, Inc. is owned and operated by its creator, Bob Chandler.

Early history[edit]

A former construction worker from the St. Louis, Missouri area, Chandler began building the first Bigfoot in 1975, using the Chandler family's 1974 Ford F-250 four-wheel-drive pickup. Chandler had been using the truck for off-roading on weekends and would find that automotive shops in the Midwest generally did not carry the parts needed to repair his frequently-wrecked 4×4. To remedy this problem, Chandler and his wife Marilyn, along with friend Jim Kramer, opened a shop called Midwest Four Wheel Drive and Performance Center in Ferguson, Missouri (later moving to Hazelwood, Missouri) which remains as Bigfoot's headquarters to this day. The truck was used as a rolling billboard for the shop, adorned with the various accessories Chandler sold in his new shop.

The truck's first attention-grabbing modification came when Chandler got wind of an idea proposed to the US Army of making steering capable on both axles of their four-wheeled vehicles, so that in the event of breakage in the front axle, it could simply be switched with the rear axle and held straight with a pin so that the vehicle could resume regular use with steering. Chandler decided to test that theory on his truck, but in addition would actually enable steering on the rear axle. The end result was an innovation in automotive technology – the "4×4×4," or a vehicle with four wheels, four-wheel-drive, and four-wheel-steering.

In 1979, Chandler started making appearances at truck and tractor pulls, as well as car shows, with his newly christened "Bigfoot" to show off the truck's capabilities as well as to promote his shop. The truck's growing popularity led to its appearance in the 1981 Gus Trikonis film Take This Job and Shove It (which also features the early monster truck USA-1 credited under a different name).

While these accomplishments were certainly admirable, Chandler's next experiment would not only change the life and fortunes of a middle-class pickup owner from the St. Louis area, it would change the motorsports world forever. In 1981, Chandler obtained permission from a local farmer to place two dilapidated cars in his field, so that Chandler could videotape himself crushing the cars with Bigfoot as a joke. When Chandler began playing the video in his shop, a man promoting a motorsports event in Columbia, Missouri asked him to duplicate the stunt in front of a crowd. After initial hesitation because of the destructive image it would convey, Chandler eventually agreed to perform at the event in April of the following year in what is believed to be the first public car crush. Later that year, a second Bigfoot (built to help meet the steadily rising demand to see the vehicle) received more major media attention by crushing cars at the Pontiac Silverdome in Pontiac, Michigan. In 1983, Bigfoot began receiving sponsorship from Ford Motor Company, a relationship which continued until 2005.

By 1984, many truck owners around the country had taken to imitating Chandler's template of outfitting their vehicles with tires standing 66 inches tall, with some trucks sporting even larger tires. Promoters of truck and tractor pulls, such as SRO Motorsports (later the United States Hot Rod Association) and Golden State Promotions, noticed the exploding popularity of the giant trucks and began booking several to crush cars at their events, with the eventual result being the advent of side-by-side, drag-racing style car crushing events. A popular example of the early days of monster truck racing is portrayed in the 1986 home video release Return of the Monster Trucks, which involves a truck pull, car crushing, and mud bogging all in the same course. That event, held in the Louisiana Superdome, was won by Bigfoot, as well as most of the events it was entered into in the mid-1980s. By this point, Chandler had already built an entire fleet of "Bigfoot" trucks to accommodate the vast demand for his vehicle, which remained as the most popular and marketable monster truck despite the large number of imitators. In 1987, Chandler added to his innovations by founding the Monster Truck Racing Association, which remains today as the chief voice in monster truck safety.

Another form of competition Chandler faced was the physical size of the competition. Many truck owners had taken to calling their vehicles the "World's Largest Monster Truck," so Chandler outfitted his "Bigfoot 4" vehicle with 10-foot-tall tires he had purchased from a junkyard owner in Seattle, Washington for only $1000. The tires had been previously used by the U.S. Army in Alaska on their overland train in the 1950s. In 1986, Chandler built a new truck, "Bigfoot 5", specifically for the tires. Upon its public debut in Indianapolis, Indiana, the truck immediately took the title of "World's Tallest, Widest, and Heaviest Monster Truck" and was eventually given official recognition of the title by the Guinness Book of Records in 2002. With a second set of 10-foot-tall tires attached, the truck stands 15 feet, six inches, measures 20 feet, 5 inches across, and weighs over 38,000 pounds.

Racing history[edit]

The fledgling all-sports television network ESPN also took note of the popularity of monster trucks in the 1980s and began showing events promoted by the United States Hot Rod Association and TNT Motorsports on a regular basis. With the frequent broadcasts of monster truck races, the next logical step was to create a championship series of monster truck races. TNT began the first recognized series in 1988, and was dominated by Bigfoot for much of the season. However, upstart rookie Rod Litzau, driving the USA-1 truck, gained momentum and passed Bigfoot in the standings going into the last weekend of the season in Louisville, Kentucky. With the way the points system and elimination brackets had been structured, Bigfoot (driven by Rich Hooser) and USA-1 met in the semifinal round with USA-1 clinching the points championship if it beat Bigfoot. USA-1 won the race in spectacular fashion, rolling over in the process, and took the championship. After losing the championship, the Bigfoot team made the decision to shift their focus less on competition and more on research and development in 1989, as well as running frequent events for the USHRA and USA Motorsports and a limited TNT Schedule.

During this time, Chandler began working with computer-aided design (CAD) programs, and using technology he had learned from professional off-road racing, designed a tubular frame for his next Bigfoot truck, along with a suspension system sporting two feet of travel. This innovation allowed Bigfoot to possess four times as much suspension travel as those used by nearly all previous monster trucks. Chandler would be awarded a patent for his designs. After testing the vehicle for three months, driver Andy Brass debuted the eighth incarnation of Bigfoot, with the new frame and suspension, in late 1989. It officially made its debut at the Indiana State Fairgrounds in Indianapolis, Indiana at the Four Wheel and Off Road Jamboree in a special 5,000th show for Bigfoot (where every Bigfoot vehicle gathered in one place for the first time). It made its debut in competition at a USHRA race in the Astrodome in Houston, Texas, reaching the final round of competition before rolling over against Jack Willman's Taurus.

The following year, after running the USHRA races in Anaheim, California, and Pontiac, Michigan, the truck would debut on the TNT Motorsports Monster Truck Challenge points circuit in Memphis, Tennessee, and would find the Bigfoot No. 8 chassis briefly banned from the circuit on April 5, 1990, due to a rule clarification that only allowed leaf, coil, and coilover suspensions to be run (Bigfoot No. 8 ran nitrogen shocks). Although TNT stated that safety was the primary reason for the clarification, they also admitted that another reason was that Bigfoot No. 8 was simply too technologically advanced and was upsetting the competitive balance of the series. Former BMX racer John Piant, piloting "Bigfoot #4" raced in place of No. 8 from Dallas, Texas to Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. Andy Brass did drive Bigfoot No. 4 to victory at the Louisville Motor Speedway. Bigfoot No. 8 returned to the TNT circuit after the temporary ban had been lifted. Chandler also took legal action against TNT. Team Bigfoot ended up winning 24 events that season and took the 1990 TNT points championship over Greg Holbrook in Gary Cook's Equalizer and Gary Porter's Carolina Crusher, the first racing championship for the Bigfoot team. Also that year, Piant took the Special Events Triple Crown Championship, in addition to placing third in the USHRA's new point series. After not winning any championships in 1991, Team Bigfoot would go on a 12-year stretch from 1992 to 2003 of winning at least one championship a year, taking a total of 16 series championship victories during that span. The most notable of Team Bigfoot's recent series championship victories came in 2007, when Bigfoot No. 16 and driver Dan Runte won the first championship series held by the Major League of Monster Trucks. With that victory, Team Bigfoot now holds a total of 22 series championships.

Present day[edit]

Bigfoot continues to be in huge demand. Sponsorships with Firestone, Summit Racing and Vi-Cor have kept Bigfoot in the spotlight in recent years. A partnership with Microsoft led to several PC and console video games starring Bigfoot. Recently, the trucks have been featured in the mobile app "Monster Truck Destruction". Always seeking to further innovate the sport, Chandler created monster truck racing's first open-invitation point series, ProMT, in 2000, which still in existence today, albeit only in Europe. As for closed-invitation promotions, Bigfoot ceased running events for the USHRA's Monster Jam series in 1998 (due to a dispute involving Team Bigfoot's usage of video footage and pictures, among other, less-well-known reasons) and has not returned since. Bigfoot appeared frequently for USA Motorsports and Motorsports Entertainment Group until both of those companies were purchased by the USHRA's parent company at the time, PACE Motorsports. Bigfoot still races for the Special Events Promotion Company (which hosted many ProMT races before ProMT ceased sanctioning races in North America after 2004), Chris Arel Motorsports, Toughest Monster Truck Tour, Monster Nation, Monster X Tour, Checkered Flag Promotions, and many others. In 2007 the BIGFOOT team briefly brought back Midwest 4 Wheel Drive at the Home of BIGFOOT in Hazelwood, Missouri.

As a token of appreciation for fathering a brand new form of motorsport that remains widely popular today, the Missouri Sports Hall of Fame inducted Chandler into their Class of 2006.

In May 2006, Bigfoot signed former professional wrestler and Monster Jam driver Debra Miceli. Miceli drove the "Bigfoot 10" chassis until the end of the 2007 Major League of Monster Trucks (MLMT) season. Miceli now drives Madusa for Feld Motorsports.

In December 2005, Bigfoot's sponsorship with Ford ended. It wasn't announced officially until 2007.

In November 2011, Bob Chandler was inducted into the International Monster Truck Museum Hall of Fame with its inaugural class. Former driver Jim Kramer was inducted into the second class the following year. [1]

In 2013, Bob Chandler was inducted into the Off-Road Motorsports Hall of Fame.

Other Bigfoot facts[edit]

  • There is no Bigfoot 13. After Bigfoot 12 was constructed, it was decided that the next Bigfoot truck to be built would be called Bigfoot 14, due to superstition about the number 13. However, Race Rock Vegas Bigfoot, a shell version of a rebuilt Bigfoot 7 at Race Rock Orlando, is now commonly known as Bigfoot 13.
  • In 1998, Bigfoot 9 took a tour of Brazil. When it was due to return to the United States, however, a customs incident in Brazil caused the truck to be confiscated. It is currently used by an independent company in Brazil, and legal obstacles have made it all but impossible for the truck to return to the United States.
  • Bigfoot got its name when Bob Chandler asked friend Ron Magruder why he was breaking so many parts on his truck. Magruder responded, "It's because of your big foot."[1]
  • Dan Runte, driving Bigfoot 14, set a then world monster truck long jump record on September 11, 1999 in Smyrna, Tennessee, when he jumped the truck a total of 202 feet, clearing a 727 jetliner in the process. After Joe Sylvester in Bad Habit took the record in 2012 (then at 208 feet), Dan Runte once again reclaimed the record in Bigfoot 18 with a jump of 214' 8" in Indianapolis, IN on September 16, 2012.
  • Dan Runte also possesses the 1/8th mile speed record for a monster truck. He piloted Bigfoot 16 to a speed of 86.56 mph in Norwalk, OH on September 25, 2010.
  • In 2003, Nigel Morris partnered with Bob Chandler to build Bigfoot 17, the first Bigfoot to compete exclusively outside of the United States. Bigfoot 17 competes primarily in the United Kingdom.
  • Bigfoot has several alternative names and identities for their trucks when two of their trucks are scheduled at a show. Among these have been "Summit Bigfoot", "Power Wheels Bigfoot", "Tonka", "Xbox", "WildFoot" and "Snake Bite". Currently, a Vi-Cor Sponsored truck, known unofficially as "Bigfoot Bessie", competes with a cow-themed paint scheme.
  • Snake Bite (using Bigfoot 4's chassis) was originally driven by Gene Patterson, under the pseudonym of Colt Cobra. He wore a mask to hide his identity and came from the fictional town of Cobra Creek, Colorado. Eric Meagher became Colt Cobra in 1993 (now with Bigfoot 8's chassis) when Gene drove Bigfoot No. 10 to second place behind Andy Brass in Bigfoot #11. Dan Runte drove it as Ricky Rattler for a short time, but Ricky also came from Cobra Creek, Colorado. Since 1997, a regular Bigfoot driver under his own name has been driving Snake Bite. Recently there is a new pseudonym named Peter Python that debuted at the Midwest Four-Wheel Drive Open house for 2009. For that show it was portrayed by Larry Swim.
  • There was an animated cartoon featuring the Bigfoot Monster Truck, Bigfoot and the Muscle Machines in the 1980s. The truck has been frequently licensed for use in toys.
  • Bigfoot is referenced in two different episodes of Futurama.
  • A video game for the Nintendo Entertainment System of the same name was released in 1990 by Acclaim Entertainment.
  • Bigfoot was one of the main characters of the animated series, The Power Team. It (or "he" in the show) was added to advertise the NES game above.
  • A Discovery Kids TV series called Bigfoot Presents: Meteor and the Mighty Monster Trucks was released in 2006.
  • A new "Ms. Bigfoot" debuted in April 2010, driven by Amber Walker.[2]

Legacy[edit]

Bigfoot was listed by Hot Rod magazine as one of 100 most influential vehicles in the history of hot rodding for its February 2009 issue, it was ranked 69th.[3]

List of Bigfoot vehicles[edit]

The following is a list of all the vehicles built or owned by Bigfoot 4×4, Inc., and their current status.

Name Built Driver Details Photo
Bigfoot 1 1975 N/A In 1979, the '74 front clip was replaced with a '79 front clip that flipped forward to allow greater access to the engine. It was in competition until 1987. Currently used as a display vehicle. Resides at the Bigfoot 4 × 4 store in St. Louis.
Bigfoot 2 1982 N/A Modified in 1992 for the purpose of giving fans monster truck rides in the bed of the vehicle, and renamed Safarifoot. Sold in 2000 to an independent owner. The truck is currently named "FloodPro".
Bigfoot 3 1983 N/A Received same ride-truck modifications as Bigfoot 2. Donated to E.M.T. Financial Fund in 2000. owned by Steve Ford,2007-2014 who has renamed the truck Legend and uses it as an exhibition vehicle. Spring 2014 old Bigfoot 3 sold to Eli Mann and Bethany Corriveau of Bethel Maine, Winter 2014-15 old # 3 will be Restored back to its 1984 sheet metal . It will retain all modification s to its running gear that had been updated in 1987 and 1991.

We hope to be able to use 3 as a tool in the teaching of children and kids as to the true history of Monster Trucks. Used in the movie Police Academy 2: Their first assignment

Bigfoot 4 1984 N/A Used as a display truck before being sold in 2007. This one now has the name "Massive Machine".
Bigfoot 5 1986 N/A Mostly used as a display vehicle at Bigfoot's headquarters in Hazelwood. It started as a customers truck, and was purchased a few years later. The original 1974 body was removed in 1989 and a current year was put in its place. The old body was placed on a waiting frame and used as a shop truck at the Bigfoot shop. The original body is now privately owned by Eli Mann, is being restored. The truck resides at the St. Louis Bigfoot 4 × 4 store.
Bigfoot outside company Headquarters in Hazelwood, MO USA
Bigfoot 6 1986 N/A Sold to a British promoter after a tour of Thailand in 1994.
Bigfoot 7/Bigfoot Race Rock 1 1988 N/A Built specifically for the movie Road House, it also was used in the movie Tango & Cash. Modified in 1995 to accommodate 10-foot-tall tires. The motor, transmission and steering were removed and the truck was sold to Race Rock Orlando. After the restaurant went out of business, it was sold to Fun Spot USA in Kissimmee, Florida, where it currently resides..
Bigfoot 8 1989 N/A Used as a display truck and as a race truck if another cannot attend a scheduled date. Chassis built by Bigfoot 4x4.
Bigfoot 9 1990 N/A Seized by Brazilian customs; see above section. Chassis built by Bigfoot 4x4.
Bigfoot 10 1992 Josh Gibson Active race truck. Chassis built by Bigfoot 4x4.
Bigfoot 11 1993 Kevin Koszala Active race truck. Chassis built by Bigfoot 4x4.
Bigfoot 12 1993 Ron Bachman Built specifically as a display truck. Chassis built by Bigfoot 4x4.
Bigfoot 14 1993 TBD Active race truck. Chassis built by Bigfoot 4x4.
Bigfoot 15 1994 TBD Active race truck. Chassis built by Bigfoot 4x4.
Bigfoot 16 2007 N/A Retired after a crash in Fall 2012 at the Indianapolis 4x4 Jamboree when piloted by Larry Swim.
Bigfoot 17 2003 Nigel Morris Active race truck. Chassis built by Nigel Morris. Competing exclusively in Europe.
Monster truck Bigfoot 17 competing at the Monster Mania event at The Hop Farm Country Park on 2008-08-16.
Ms. Bigfoot 1985 N/A Name later changed to "Bigfoot Ranger." Sold in 1993, was used to build Lil Truck, owned by Chandler Llyod.
Bigfoot Shuttle 1985 N/A Built from an Aerostar minivan, has the original V6 engine, nitrous oxide injection was added sometime later. Sold in 2002 to Jeff Halliday, a vice president at the official monster truck hall of fame, for private use.
Bigfoot Fastrax 1987 N/A M48 personnel carrier chassis with two Ford 460ci engines and C6 automatic transmissions. The body is the upper half of a fiberglass replica of a 1990 Aerostar. Mostly used as a display vehicle at Bigfoot's headquarters in Hazelwood.
Bigfoot Fastrax
Bigfoot Race Rock 2/Bigfoot 13 1999 N/A Built specifically for permanent display at Race Rock restaurant in Las Vegas, Nevada. It was made to resemble 5 and 7. After the restaurant went out of business, it was sold to the Historic Auto Attractions museum in Roscoe, Illinois, where it currently resides.
Bigfoot 18 2011 TBD Active race truck. Chassis built by Concussion Motorsports. Bigfoot 18 was the first truck to feature the trophy truck style body, and also broke Bad Habit's previous world record long jump. Dan Runte set a new world record of 214'8" at the 2012 Indianapolis 4x4 Jamboree.
Bigfoot 19 Originally built in 2010 (Truck was redone by Bigfoot in 2012) Darron Schnell Active race truck. Carroll Racing Design chassis owned by Robby Gordon, operated by Bigfoot 4x4 with Speed Energy sponsorship.
Bigfoot 20 2012 N/A Chassis built by Nigel Morris, driver of Bigfoot 17 in the UK. Truck is powered by an electric motor and 36 Odyssey batteries. Bigfoot 20 is the world's only electric monster truck.
Bigfoot 21 2013 Dan Runte Concussion Motorsports chassis that will built in 2013 for the 2014 winter season.

References[edit]

External links[edit]