Grave Digger (truck)
|This article needs additional citations for verification. (August 2013)|
|Owner and Driver Information|
|Driver(s)||Dennis Anderson, Jon Zimmer, Gary Porter, Chad Tingler, Carl Van Horn, Charlie Pauken, Randy Brown, and Pablo Huffaker|
|Home city||Kill Devil Hills, NC|
|Body style||1950 Chevy Panel Van|
|Chassis||Patrick Enterprises, Inc. (PEI), Cohen-designed ("in-house built"), Carroll Racing Development (CRD), and Racesource|
|Engine||540-555 cubic inch Merlin 1450hp-1700hp|
|Transmission||Coan 2-speed transmission|
|Tires||Sudden Impact Racing, EcoWork, Goodyear Terra|
Grave Digger is the monster truck racing team in the Feld Entertainment Monster Jam series. There are nine Grave Diggers being driven by different drivers to allow them to make appearances at more events, but their flagship driver was creator Dennis "Dandy" Anderson. Grave Digger is considered to be one of the most influential and iconic monster trucks of all time.
Grave Digger was originally conceived in 1981 by Dennis "The Man" Anderson as a mud bogger. This first truck was a red 1952 Ford pickup truck. Later on a silver and blue 1951 Ford Panel Truck was his new mud truck that would become the first Grave Digger monster truck . The truck received its name when Anderson, amicably trash talking with his fellow racers, said the now famous line, "I'll take this old junk and dig you a grave with it", a reference to the age of his old pickup in comparison to their relatively modern trucks. Anderson gained a reputation for an all-or-nothing driving style and quickly became popular at local events. At one show, a scheduled monster truck failed to show up and Anderson, who already had large tractor tires on the truck, offered to crush cars in the absence of the full-size monster. The promoter accepted and Grave Digger was an instant success as a car crusher and led Anderson to leave mud bogging and pursue monster trucks instead.
In 1986 Grave Digger underwent a transformation to complete monster truck and first received its famous black graveyard paint scheme. In 1987 and 1988 Anderson drove the truck primarily at TNT Motorsports races and became a crowd favorite for driving hard despite lacking major funding that more well known teams, like Bigfoot, had. In 1987, Anderson beat Bigfoot in St. Poodle, MN on a show taped for ESPN. It was the first major victory for Grave Digger.
Anderson moved to Grave Digger 2 in 1989, with a new 1950 Chevy panel van body. It was during this time that the reputation for wild passes was developed, and the popularity of the truck increased. TNT recognised his rising popularity and began promoting Grave Digger heavily, especially for races on the Tuff Trax syndicated television series. This was helped by Bigfoot not racing for points in the 1989 championship, leaving Grave Digger as the most popular truck on the tour.
When TNT became a part of the USHRA in 1991, Anderson began running on the USHRA tour and debuted his first four-link truck, Grave Digger 3. Throughout the 1990s, the popularity of the truck grew and forced Anderson to hire other drivers to run other Grave Digger trucks. Grave Diggers 4, 5 and 8 were built to suit this purpose, and were never driven in any major capacity by Anderson. Anderson drove Grave Digger 7, a direct successor to 3, for most of the decade. It was replaced by Grave Digger 12, well known as the "long wheelbase Digger", which was also the first Grave Digger with purple in the paintjob.
In late 1998, Anderson sold the Grave Digger team to USA Motor Sports (now Feld Entertainment Motor Sports). Anderson continues to drive and still is the most visible member of the team. However, the Grave Digger shop in Poplar Branch, NC now also houses the other trucks which Feld Entertainment owns.
- 1999 Monster Jam Points Champion (Dennis Anderson - Grave Digger #12)
- 2000 Wrenchead.com Monster Jam World Freestyle Champion (Dennis Anderson - Grave Digger #7)
- 2002 Monster Jam Points Champion (Dennis Anderson - Grave Digger #14)
- 2003 Monster Jam Points Champion (Gary Porter - Grave Digger #12)
- 2004 Monster Jam Points Champion (Randy Brown - Grave Digger #18)
- 2004 Monster Jam World Racing Champion (Dennis Anderson - Grave Digger #19)
- 2006 Monster Jam World Racing Champion (Dennis Anderson - Grave Digger #20)
- 2010 Advance Auto Parts Monster Jam World Racing Champion (Dennis Anderson - Grave Digger #20)
Gary Porter also won the WMTRL Championship in 2004 driving Grave Digger #12.
Many Grave Digger team drivers have won world championships in other trucks. Regular Grave Digger driver Pablo Huffaker won the 2007 Monster Jam Freestyle Championship driving Captain's Curse, and son of Dennis Anderson, Adam Anderson won the freestyle championship in 2008 driving Taz, and Grave Digger driver Charlie Pauken won the 2010 Monster Jam World Finals Freestyle Championship driving Monster Mutt. In 2013, Adam Anderson won another world championship but this time in racing, driving Grave Digger The Legend.
There have been a total of 28 Grave Digger monster trucks built. There are 9 trucks currently running.
- Grave Digger #1 - Original truck. Truck has been taken apart and sits in back of the shop. (Recently made an appearance at World Finals 8 (2007). It now sits around the front of Diggers Dungeon.
- Grave Digger #2 - Leaf-sprung race truck. was rebuilt with a new frame for the world record sound crossing, now sits out front of the shop to draw in visitors.
- Grave Digger #3 - Race truck. Rebuilt into WCW Nitro Machine in 2000-2001, Inferno in 2001-2002 and continued to run as Inferno until it was retired in 2007.
- Grave Digger #4 - Jack Koberna built leaf-spring race truck, only run for a few months. This truck now runs as Mr. Big.
- Grave Digger #5 - Racesource designed race truck. Originally ran as Jus-Show-N Off/Purina Mainstay only run for a few months. Chassis sold to Mark and Sherry Wheeler formerly of the Terraduster Monster Truck Team and ran as Brett Hart and Stone Cold Steve Austin sponsored WWF Wrestle Trucks, when the sponsorship ended, they ran it as Terraduster until they left the industry in 1999. It has been sold many times since, and was last ran as Dave Radzierez's Diesel Monster Truck. The Grave Digger body that the truck ran sat in the team store for children to climb on for some time. The truck is now up for sale.
- Grave Digger #6 - Rebuilt as the Son-uva Digger mud bogger. Was originally the "Street Digger." The body was sold. Now owned by a couple in Kunkletown, Pennsylvania
- Grave Digger #7 - Race truck. Retired. Currently on display at the team's headquarters, Digger's Dungeon.
- Grave Digger #8 - Race truck. Retired from competition, was on display as part of a temporary museum exhibit in Chicago.
- Grave Digger #9 - Ride truck, sold and is now Extinguisher ride truck.
- Grave Digger Boneyard Boogie - Ride truck, a school bus built by Sam Sturges and used for a ride truck on the western United States.
- Grave Digger #10 - Racesource designed race truck. Run by Pablo Huffaker, has been retired and scrapped.
- Grave Digger #11 - Ride truck, ran as the War Wizard ride truck but currently owned by Randy Brown since late 2006 and turned in to Pure Adrenaline ride truck in March 2010. Starting at the 2012 Advance Auto Parts MONSTER JAM World Finals, it ran as a Grave Digger 30th Anniversary ride truck. It has been rebuilt again in 2013, and is currently a Grave Digger ride truck again.
- Grave Digger #12 - In-house designed race truck. Originally retired as a Grave Digger in Wildwood, NJ as of 2010. The truck was refurbished for 2011 due to a last minute change where Tony Farrell had to drive the second Grave Digger The Legend as a field-filler for Son-uva Digger. Now, #12 is retired.
- Grave Digger #13 - Grave Digger #7's nickname after its rebuild in 1999 for the 2000 Monster Jam season.
- Grave Digger #14 - PEI chassis race truck. Retired in 2010 in Philadelphia, PA as Monster Mutt, after extensive beatings to the chassis, much like #15
- Grave Digger #15 - Racesource chassis race truck. Retired in 2008 after extensive beatings to the chassis.
- Grave Digger #16 - Racesource chassis race truck. Was driven by Pablo Huffaker, but will retire in 2014.
- Grave Digger #17 - Pro Modified drag racer sponsored by the team. (The IHRA and USHRA were previously under the same ownership.) No longer racing.
- Grave Digger #18 - PEI chassis race truck. Retired in 2012. Originally driven by former Grave Digger driver, Rod Schmidt.
- Grave Digger #19 - Cohen-designed chassis race truck. Currently driven by Randy Brown.
- Grave Digger #20 - Cohen-designed chassis race truck. Currently driven by Dennis Anderson.
- Grave Digger #21 - Display truck. Was hauled around in a trailer for Advanced Auto Parts.
- Grave Digger #22 - PEI chassis race truck. Originally ran as Batman from 2006-2008. Retired in 2013. Was driven by Charlie Pauken. Appeared on Conan in 2012.
- Grave Digger #23 - CRD (Carroll Racing Development) chassis race truck. Currently driven by Carl Van Horn.
- Grave Digger #24 - Cohen-designed chassis race truck. Currently driven by Chad Tingler
- Grave Digger #25 - Cohen-designed chassis race truck. Currently driven by Gary Porter.
- Grave Digger #26 - Cohen-designed chassis race truck. Currently driven by Jon Zimmer.
- Grave Digger #27 - CRD (Carroll Racing Development) chassis race truck. Currently driven by Charlie Pauken.
- Grave Digger #28 - Racesource chassis race truck. It will debut in 2014 and will be driven by Pablo Huffaker
Grave Digger's origins, the imagery associated with the truck, and the truck's wild reputation, are all considered part of the mystique of the truck and have contributed to its continued popularity. Although originally a Ford, the 1950 Chevy Panel Van body is now considered the traditional Grave Digger body style and is not likely to be changed in the foreseeable future. Likewise, the paint scheme, combining green flames, letters dripping blood, a foggy graveyard scene with tombstones bearing names of competitors, a haunted house silhouetted by a full moon, and a giant skull shaped ghost, is considered a part of what Grave Digger is and, although being tweaked over the years, has not strayed far from the first incarnation of the paintwork from 1986.
Perhaps the most visible trademarks are the red headlights which glow menacingly whenever the truck is in competition. The lights were first used when Anderson was building a transporter out of a school bus and removed the red stop lights. After realizing they would fit in the headlights of the van, he installed them and the truck has had them ever since. During the TNT days, announcer Army Armstrong started telling fans that when the red lights were turned on, the truck was 100% ready to run and Anderson was going to go all out. Fans began to take notice and Anderson, who would keep the lights off if something was not working properly, began receiving letters saying that he was not at 100% at certain shows because the lights were not on. To this day, the lights are turned on for every run.
The reputation Grave Digger gained shot the truck to super stardom in the 1980s and continues to draw fans today. In the late 1980s Anderson gained the nickname "One Run Anderson" for his spectacular but often destructive qualifying passes which entertained the crowd but put the truck out of competition for the rest of the event. With the advent of freestyle, Anderson gained a means by which he could entertain the crowd with wild stunts while also focusing on winning races. Today, Grave Digger, no matter which driver is appearing, is traditionally the last truck to freestyle at most events, providing the "grand finale" which caps off the show. These freestyles often end up in rollover crashes, at much higher rates than other trucks. The crowd typically loves to see the wrecks but some criticize the team for what they feel is the glorification of crashing.
The immense popularity of Grave Digger has made it the poster child for Monster Jam, and in some cases monster trucks in general. There is much debate over whether Grave Digger has taken over the title of "Most Popular Monster Truck" from Bigfoot. As a result, the Grave Digger vs. Bigfoot rivalry is one of the strongest in the sport, despite the fact the trucks only race each other a few times each year.
- Dennis Anderson
- Hometown: Kill Devil Hills, North Carolina
- Driver Since: 1982
- Championships: 2000 Freestyle & 2004, 2006, 2010 Racing Monster Jam Champion
- Currently drives Grave Digger #20
- Drove the following Grave Digger trucks: #1, #2, #3, #7, #12, #13, #14, #15, #16, #19, #20, #24, #25
- Pablo Huffaker
- Hometown: Tomball, Texas
- Driver Since: 1991
- Championships: 2007 Freestyle Monster Jam Champion (in Captain's Curse)
- Currently driving Grave Digger #28
- Drove the following Grave Digger trucks: #5, #10, #16, #28
- Charlie Pauken
- Hometown: Maumee, Ohio
- Driver Since: 1999
- Championships: 2010 Advance Auto Parts MONSTER JAM World Finals Freestyle Champion (in Monster Mutt)
- Currently driving Grave Digger #27
- Drove the following Grave Digger trucks: #14, #15, #20, #22, #27
- Randy Brown
- Hometown: Camden, North Carolina
- Driver Since: 1984
- Currently driving Grave Digger #19
- Drove the following Grave Digger trucks: #18, #19
- Carl Van Horn
- Hometown: Elizabeth City, North Carolina
- Driver Since: 2011
- Currently driving Grave Digger #23
- Drove the following Grave Digger trucks: #14, #23
- Gary Porter
- Hometown: Wadesboro, North Carolina
- Driver Since: 2001
- Currently driving Grave Digger #25
- Drove the following Grave Digger trucks: #12, #25
- Jon Zimmer
- Hometown: Albany, New York
- Driver Since: 2013
- Currently drives: Grave Digger #26
- Drove the following Grave Digger trucks: #23, #26
- Chad Tingler
- Hometown: Stuarts Draft, Virginia
- Driver Since: 2006
- Currently driving Grave Digger #24
- Drove the following Grave Digger trucks: #14, #20, #24
- Adam Anderson
- Hometown: Poplar Branch, North Carolina
- Drove Grave Digger: Subbing for his father, Dennis Anderson, for the first quarter of 2007 in Grave Digger #20
- Currently drives: Grave Digger The Legend
- Drove the following trucks: Vette King, Taz, Grave Digger #20, Grave Digger The Legend
- Jason Childress
- Hometown: St. Louis, Missouri
- Drove Grave Digger: For the 2003-2005 seasons
- Currently drives: Retired
- Drove the following trucks: Grave Digger #7, Grave Digger #14, Batman
- Rod Schmidt
- Hometown: Charles City, Iowa
- Drove Grave Digger: For the 2002-2012 seasons
- Currently drives: Monster Mutt Rottweiler
- Drove the following Grave Digger trucks: #7, #8, #14, #18, #19, #20 (Tampa 2013)
- Les Anderson
- Hometown: North Carolina
- Drove Grave Digger: For the 1992 season
- Currently drives: Retired
- Drove the following trucks: Grave Digger #2
- Lyle Hancock
- Hometown: Barco, North Carolina
- Drove Grave Digger: For the 1992-1999 seasons
- Currently drives: Retired
- Drove the following trucks: Grave Digger #3, Wrenchead.com, Blue Thunder, Traxxas T-Maxx, Sudden Impact
- Robert Parker
- Drove Grave Digger: Subbing for a couple of shows
- Currently drives: Ground Pounder
- Drove the following trucks: Grave Digger #8, AM/PM Boss, Samson 1, Pouncer, Predator, Prowler, Hyperactive, War Wizard
- Scott Pontbriand
- Drove Grave Digger: Driver of #8 and #14 for a couple of years
- Currently drives: Retired
- Drove the following trucks: Grave Digger #7, Grave Digger #8, Undertaker, Bear Foot, Monster Mutt
- Tony Farrell
- Hometown: North Vernon, Indiana
- Drove Grave Digger: Subbing for Ryan Anderson as a field filler in the first quarter of 2011 in Grave Digger The Legend
- Currently drives: Retired
- Drove the following trucks: Blue Ribbon Bandit, Wild Thang, Sting, Blue Thunder, Grave Digger The Legend
Digger’s Dungeon, located in Poplar Branch, North Carolina, is the official home of Grave Digger. Besides the usual gift shop, there is a Grave Digger located outside for photographs, as well as a truck that one can sit in within the shop. There are also various pieces of other Grave Diggers hanging throughout the store, all of which have been damaged from various accidents. While there is plenty of merchandise for sale, these parts are not.
Digger’s Dungeon hosted the 2010 No Limit R/C Monster Truck World Finals. It took place from May 28-May 30, the World Finals is the largest RC Monster Truck Race in the world.
Digger Block Party
In 2009, Feld Motor Sports (the company that owns the Grave Digger brand) announced a contest whose winner would win a catered party, including the appearance of Grave Digger and its principle driver, Dennis Anderson. The winner of the 2009 sweepstakes was Randy Conrad of Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. At its height, the party had over 70 people in attendance.
The 2010 Digger Block Party sweepstakes started on October 6, 2009 and ran until July 18, 2010. The winner received a prize package totaling around US $11,850 dollars, including the visit from Grave Digger and Anderson, as well as catering, prizes, a DJ, and party equipment.
- TESS - Error
- FELD Motorsports Acquires Live Nation Motor Sports
- "The Onion NEWSWIRE: "Grave Digger Is Perhaps The Most Influential Monster Truck Of All Time" Begins C- Essay". TheOnion.com. Retrieved 2011-05-30.
- "Poplar Branch, NC - Digger's Dungeon - Home of Grave Digger". Roadsideamerica.com. Retrieved 2010-03-08.
- "Grave Digger". Grave Digger. 2009-09-14. Retrieved 2010-03-08.