2015 Celebrates 40 Years of BIGFOOT!
December 3, 2014 (St. Louis, MO) – It was fall 1982 inside a jam-packed Pontiac Silverdome in Pontiac, Michigan. Some 70,000 fans were on hand for a hot rod truck and tractor pull, but got so much more. Nothing more than a half time act brought in by the promoter; Bob Chandler and his over-sized Ford pickup called “BIGFOOT” crawled up and drove over a pair of unsuspecting junk cars and the crowd erupted. Chandler estimates 20-30,000 of them jumped the walls and poured on to the floor of the stadium. “My son was riding in the passenger seat with me so I told him to roll up the window and lock the door. It was an awesome but scary sight!” That was the unofficial birth of monster trucks. In actuality, that was Bigfoot #2 performing, and Bob had run over cars a year earlier in a field just to prove it could be done. The monster truck had been born, and people wanted more.
That night was a spark that ignited the imaginations of generation after generation of fans and sells over 4 million tickets annually. It all started with an idea from Bob and longtime confidant, Jim Kramer, when they started a 4-Wheel Drive shop in a St. Louis, Missouri suburb. Bob’s personal pickup became the company’s billboard and evolved into a fleet of car crushers. Bigfoot 4 was the first entirely purpose-built monster truck. It was the most heavily updated and abused truck in the family. Bigfoot 5 sits on tires 10′ tall and is the world’s tallest and widest pickup as registered by Guinness. In 1989, Bigfoot 8 revolutionized the sport with its tube frame chassis and nitrogen charged shocks. The 18th rendition holds the record for the longest jump at 214′ 8″. The crew at team headquarters is currently assembling truck #21 for a January 2015 debut. In 1982 Chandler thought that if he jumped the truck even a foot of the ground it would break into pieces. Little did he know that 20 years later his top driver, Dan Runte, would jump one over a Boeing 737 and drive away.
BIGFOOT is as much a marketing monster as it is a monster truck. Ford Motor Company officially became the team sponsor in 1983, a relationship that lasted nearly a quarter-century. Firestone has been supplying the 66″ tall rubber for the team since 1992 and hosts BIGFOOT appearances at hundreds of its dealers each year. BIGFOOT was named one of the top 5 marketing vehicles of all time in 2009, and you might even recognize the blue Ford from movies like ‘Roadhouse’ and ‘Take This Job and Shove It”.
In 40 years of business, Chandler’s most memorable moments don’t include the more than 35 Championships the team has won, the industry firsts or the world records. He is most proud of being inducted the International Monster Truck Hall of Fame and the Off-Road Motorsports Hall of Fame. “I did not believe the Off Road Industry would recognize monster Trucks as a motorsport”. He is quick to hand much of the credit for BIGFOOT’s success to his wife Marilyn and Jim Kramer. Chandler noted “he took the slow driving car crushes to another level, then led the way with monster truck racing and took us from a circus act to a real motorsport”.
Today the BIGFOOT fleet has completed more than 30,000 appearances in 32 countries. The arsenal of drivers and trucks competes in many series including the Toughest Monster Truck Tour, Monster X Tour, Monster Nationals and 4-Wheel Jamboree Series. Current team driver Larry Swim feels the pressure to perform knowing he’s driving one of the most recognizable motorsports vehicle in the world. “These fans expect a show, and they aren’t satisfied with anything less than 110% out of a BIGFOOT truck”.
The 40th Anniversary of BIGFOOT will be celebrated throughout 2015. Several appearances of BIGFOOT 1 and 5 are planned, along with a revived rivalry with former nemesis USA-1. Throughout the year trucks will appear with various retro paint schemes, and 40th Anniversary merchandise will be available at events and online at Bigfoot4x4.com.