Bigfoot is a monster truck owned by Bob Chandler out of St. Louis, Missouri. It is considered to be the first "monster truck", though some were built before its time.
It is arguably the most iconic and recognizable monster truck of all time, followed by trucks like Grave Digger and Maximum Destruction (Max-D). However, unlike those two trucks, Bigfoot hasn't competed in a Monster Jam event since 1998, due to disputes between both companies.
There are currently 5 competing Bigfoot trucks with 6 full time drivers and 2 fill-ins. 20 trucks have been created by the team since its debut in 1975.
Bigfoot trucks are also known for running multiple colorful and creative paint schemes on their trucks throughout its career. These bodies are accompanied by the teams many sponsorships from different platforms.
The truck has achieved large amounts of success through the years. Some of these include Guinness World Records and championships from multiple leagues. Rather than favoring one or two promotions, Bigfoot is known to compete all over North America and appear all over the world.
In 1975, Bob Chandler opened the Midwest Four-Wheel Drive Center shop after being frustrated with getting parts and service for his year-old Ford 4x4 pickup truck. He used the truck as both a service vehicle and advertisement for the shop, racing it often on weekends, and upgrading it many times to be competitive.
In 1979, he fully rebuilt the pickup to have four-wheel steering and 48-inch tires using axels from a military truck, with updated body panels from a 1979 Ford. Dubbed "Bigfoot", Chandler began doing paid events and quickly became a common sight at truck and tractor pulls.
In 1981, Bigfoot received much attention from a car crush at the Pontiac Silverdome. This kickstarted Bigfoot's fame among other monster trucks.
In 1982, Bigfoot 2 was created by demand after multiple bookings were happening due to the truck's rising popularity. This truck was also the first Bigfoot to incorporate the today standard 66" Terra tires. Jim Kramer and Ken Koelling start driving for the team.
In 1985, Bigfoot 4 debuted. It was one of the most successful Bigfoot trucks from its time. It won multiple events and dominated the emerging monster truck racing scene through much of the late 80s. Andy Brass also joined the team.
In 1986, the team debuted Bigfoot 5, an exhibition truck which featured 10 foot tall tires. The truck was unlike any other monster truck from its period due to its height and heavy weight. It is also Team Bigfoot's first ride truck to be used.
In 1987, the team set another world record for the longest jump inside a monster truck. Jim Kramer drove the newly finished Bigfoot 6 onto the team's second world record. Gene Patterson also joined the team.
In 1988, Bigfoot 7 was introduced. It was built for a film shoot and was eventually used for competition.
In 1989, another first was recorded yet again by the team. Bigfoot 8 debuted and was the first monster truck designed to run a custom steel-tube-frame chassis rather than a reinforced standard truck chassis. Dan Runte and John Piant would also start driving for the team.
In 1990, Bigfoot 2 and 3 stopped competing and were turned into ride trucks. Bigfoot 9 debuted as a near clone of #8 as it featured almost the same design. Bigfoot 8 would be temporarily banned from TNT Motorsports due to it's extreme technological advantage over almost all other trucks on the circuit.
In 1991, Bigfoot created the first 3D-bodied monster truck Snake Bite. The truck ran on various Bigfoot chassis and served as the teammate to the team.
In 1992, the newly completed Bigfoot 10 won the second Special Events/Penda Points Series under Andy Brass. The team also expanded as Lonny Childress, Eric Tack and Brian Conn all started to drive for team Bigfoot. Bigfoot 11 made its debut at the SEMA trade show in November.
In 1993, Sky Hartley and Eric Meagher were hired by the team. Three brand new trucks were introduced as well. Andy Brass driving Bigfoot 11 won the PENDA Points Series under the name Wildfoot; the name was used as the series allowed only one truck to use the same name, and the team also had Bigfoot 10 competing. Bigfoot 12, a dedicated display truck, and Bigfoot 14 also debuted that year.
In 1994, Brass, Patterson and Conn finished their final seasons with Bigfoot. Bigfoot 6 was also retired. Bigfoot 15 made its competition debut. Brass would win his third PENDA Points Series Championship with Bigfoot 11.
In 1995, Dan Runte won his first PENDA Points Championship with Bigfoot 14. Meanwhile, Bigfoot 7 was rebuilt into a display truck featuring 10 foot tall tires similar to #5.
In 1996, Runte won another PENDA Championship with Bigfoot 14.
In 1997, the team would win yet another PENDA Points Series this time with Eric Meagher driving Bigfoot 15. Gene Patterson also returned to driving Bigfoot.
In 1998, Eric and #15 won the USA Motorsports Monster Truck Challenge. Meanwhile, while on tour in Brazil, Bigfoot 9 was seized by customs. It was never returned to the team. This was also the last year Bigfoot ever competed at a Monster Jam event, the final event being in Stafford Springs, CT.
In 1999, the team set multiple world records. Dan Runte set not only 1 but 3 firsts in the Guinness Book of World Records. He recorded the longest monster truck jump and fastest monster truck land speed after jumping over a Boeing 727 airplane in Smyrna, TN. He also set the world record for the highest monster truck jump in Las Vegas. On top of that, he (driving Bigfoot 14) and Rick Petroline won the No Limits Monster Truck Championship Winter Series and the Grand Nationals, respectively. Bigfoot 11 also set a record for the longest wheelie in a monster truck. Lonny Childress left the team.
In 2000, Eric Tack won the ProMT series with Bigfoot 15. Teammates Gene Patterson and Sky Hartley left the team. Bigfoot 3 was also retired and was eventually sold.
In 2001, Dan Runte and Bigfoot 14 won the same series Tack won the year before. John Piant left the team, while Dave Harkey joined and Sky Hartley returned.
In 2002, Bigfoot 5 was inducted into the Guinness Book Of World Records as the tallest and widest pickup truck, a record which remains to this date. Dan Runte won the NLMTC Grand Nationals once again in #14. Eric Tack won Monster Truck Nationals Championship in #15. Ken Koelling retired from racing.
In 2003, Larry Swim and Keith Sturgeon started driving Bigfoot. Nigel Morris also joined the team as he debuted his own truck, Bigfoot 17, the first official Bigfoot truck to exclusively tour in Europe. This truck also got him the same year's European ProMT Championship. Back in the US, Runte won another NLMTC, this time taking home the Winter Series Championship. Bigfoot 8 was retired from competition and became a display truck. Eric Tack officially left the team. Bigfoot competes at its final USHRA-sanctioned event and its first for USHRA in five years, being the Ford 100th Anniversary event.
In 2005, The team celebrated its 30th anniversary with a 1980's-inspired paint scheme on Dan Runte's Bigfoot. Also, AJ Straatmann drove Bigfoot for a couple months.
In 2006, Keith Sturgeon stopped driving for Bigfoot. Morris won the EMRTC with #17.
In 2007, multiple achievements were received by the team. Straatman joined the team full time. They unveiled Bigfoot 16 which won the MLMT Series under Runte. He would also take #15 to another NLMTC Winter Series win. Morris would again win the EMRTC in Europe with #17 and Rick Long in #15 won the the Monster Madness tour in Canada. Dave Harkey retired from racing. Bigfoot #4 was sold.
In 2008, Darron Schnell was hired by the team. Later that year, former driver Dave Harkey tragically died at the age of 49.
In 2009, Straatmann left the team. Larry Swim won both the Racing and Freestyle championships of the Checkered Flag Productions Series with Bigfoot 14. In Europe, Morris won another EMRTC with #17.
In 2010, Amber Walker began driving for the team using the Ms. Bigfoot body design. Swim won another Checkered Flag Productions Championship with #14. Rick Long won the racing championship of the Monster Truck Nationals with #15. Eric Tack won freestyle in the Domination in the Dome event at Pontiac, Michigan with #11.
In 2011, Walker left the team. Long repeated as MTN racing champion again driving #15. Runte won another championship for the team this time, the 4 Wheel Jamboree Nationals Racing Championship.
In 2012, Bigfoot 18 debuts. Runte later won the Toughest Monster Truck Tour with #18. Later that year he piloted it to reclaim the monster truck long-jump record. Rick Long also took home his third Monster Truck Nationals Racing Championship with #15 as well as Larry Swim winning the Winter Series of the Checkered Flag Productions with Bigfoot 16. However, #16 was later retired after a hard crash damaged major components of the truck. Bigfoot 19 was quickly inaugurated as a replacement.
In 2013, the world's first electric powered monster truck Bigfoot 20 was introduced. Meanwhile, Runte won another TMTT Championship with Bigfoot 18. The Australian Bigfoot debuts later in the year driven by Rick Long.
In 2014, AJ Straatman rejoined the team once again. Runte won another TMTT with #18 while Swim won the Monster X Tour with #19.
In 2015, Bigfoot 10 and 11 were both retired due to extensive frame damage. Bigfoot 21 was then welcomed to the fleet. It won Runte's fourth consecutive TMTT Championship while Swim won both Monster X and the 4 Wheel Jamboree Racing Championship with #18.
In 2016, Dan Runte announced his final season as a full-time Bigfoot driver. Bigfoot 21 also won 2 different titles with 2 different drivers. Runte won another TMTT while Swim won another 4 Wheel Jamboree Racing Championship. Darron Schnell and Josh Gibson each won championships with their respective trucks #19 and #18. Schnell won the Monster Truck Nationals Racing Championship while Gibson won the 4 Wheel Jamboree Freestyle Championship.
In 2017, Josh Gibson and Bigfoot 18 won 3 different championships. He won the Racing and Freestyle Championships of the 4 Wheel Jamboree as well as the TMTT as Snake Bite driver Vinny Venom. Darron Schell also won the Monster Truck Nationals racing championship with Bigfoot 19.
In 2018, Gibson retired from racing. Christian Norman and Mike Miller were hired by the team. Swim won another TMTT Championship with Bigfoot 21. Norman also won the 4 Wheel Jamboree Racing championship. However, teammate Ron Bachmann died later that year. In November the team announces a new licensing deal with Hot Wheels that includes joining the new Hot Wheels Monster Trucks Live tour.
In 2019, Bigfoot 18, as Hot Wheels Racing 1 with Norman driving, alongside other Bigfoot trucks begin on the Hot Wheels tour. Swim won another TMTT Championship with Bigfoot 21. Swim retired in June. Soon after, Buddy Tompkins is hired as a new driver for the team, but only for select shows.
In 2020, Bigfoot 21 will be driven by Dave Radzierez at the TMTT. Tweedy is driving #14 with Norman continuing to drive #18 as Hot Wheels Racing 1, at North American dates of the Hot Wheels tour while Darron Schnell is driving #19 at European dates, joined by his wife Rebecca Schnell driving #15 as Hot Wheels Racing 1.
Bigfoot's first sponsorship was Ford, which ran on the truck from 1986 to 2007. Since then, multiple companies have sponsored Bigfoot 4x4 due to its fame and popularity in the industry. The following list is a record of all of Bigfoot's sponsorship bodies through the years.
- Firestone Bigfoot
- MLB Bigfoot
- Bigfoot T-Wrecks
- Xbox Bigfoot
- Madusa Bigfoot
- Charlie's Angels Bigfoot
- E3 Spark Plugs Bigfoot
- Firestone Destination
- Vi-Cor Bigfoot
- Tonka Bigfoot
- SPEED Energy Bigfoot
- Summit Bigfoot
- Power Wheels Bigfoot
- Odyssey Battery Bigfoot
- Midwest 4WD Center Bigfoot
- Mac Tools Bigfoot
- Lucas Oil Bigfoot
- Firestone Wilderness
- Hot Wheels Bigfoot
In 1995, Team Bigfoot partnered with WCW to create monster trucks inspired by wrestling icons at the time. The sponsorship lasted until 1998 and WCW moved to Monster Jam a year later.
Departure from Monster Jam
Aside from the Ford 100th Anniversary event in 2003, Bigfoot has not competed in a USHRA-sanctioned event since the summer of 1998. This is due to a falling-out between Bigfoot and Pace Motorsports/Monster Jam that took place over the course of multiple years in the mid-late 90's. The main reasons for the falling out were disputes over pay for appearances at USHRA events, Bigfoot wanting to film their own trucks at USHRA events and have full ownership over the footage, and Monster Jam's attempt to buy the team in the same way they would buy Grave Digger in 1999. By the spring of 1998, all of these issues led to months of debating and negotiating as to what Bigfoot's future with Monster Jam would look like, but no agreements were met and both parties parted ways for good by the end of the summer.
Despite the lack of a professional relationship, this does not necessarily mean that there is animosity between all those involved with both parties. Monster Jam-owned trucks have made pit stops at the Bigfoot compound for repairs and maintenance, and shots of Bigfoot have occasionally made their way onto Monster Jam programming or at live events. That being said, both sides go out of their way to not include each other's trucks in their videos/broadcasts as much as possible for the purposes of not paying royalties. In hindsight, Bob Chandler has stated that he most likely would not have left if he had to make the decision over again, and Bigfoot has since made multiple attempts to reconnect professionally with Monster Jam, albeit without much mutual interest.
There have been 20 Bigfoot trucks built over the years. Bigfoot 21 is the latest truck, but there is no Bigfoot 13 due to superstition.
|Bigfoot 1||Built in 1975; now a display truck|
|Bigfoot 2||Built in 1982; sold to an independent owner in 2000|
|Bigfoot 3||Built in 1983; sold to EMT financial fund in 2000; currently being restored by a private owner|
|Bigfoot 4||Built in 1984; sold in 2007; currently being restored|
|Bigfoot 5||Built in 1986; display truck with ten-foot tall tires|
|Bigfoot 6||Built in 1986; sold in 1994|
|Bigfoot 7||Built in 1987; converted to a static display truck with 10-foot tires for Race Rock Cafe Orlando in 1996. Now at a Florida amusement park|
|Bigfoot 8||Built in 1988; became a display in 2005; restored in 2021|
|Bigfoot 9||Built in 1990; lost in a customs dispute in Brazil in 1998; currently in Brazil with a private owner.|
|Bigfoot 10||Built in 1991; Retired in 2015 after extensive damage; frame reused as in 2020 as static display|
|Bigfoot 11||Built in 1992; Retired in 2015 after extensive damage|
|Bigfoot 12||Built in 1992, display truck that tours with Drue Epler|
|Bigfoot 14||Built in 1993; driven by Rodney Tweedy|
|Bigfoot 15||Built in 1993; driven by Rebecca Schnell|
|Bigfoot 16||Built in 2007; Retired in 2012 after extensive damage|
|Bigfoot 17||Built in 2003 by Nigel Morris; sold after Morris retired from driving in 2018, now runs as Sheriff|
|Bigfoot 18||Built in 2011; driven by Christian Norman|
|Bigfoot 19||Built in 2012; driven by Darron Schnell, also runs as Race Ace|
|Bigfoot 20||Built in 2012; electric powered display truck|
|Bigfoot 21||Built in 2014: Driven by Josh Gibson|
|Bigfoot 22||Under construction as of 2021|
|Bigfoot Shuttle||Built in 1985; van body, 48-inch wheels; sold in 2002|
|Bigfoot Ranger||Built in 1985 as "Miss Bigfoot"; 48-inch wheels; sold in 1993. It is being restored to be as original as possible.|
|Bigfoot Fastrax||Built in 1988; treaded offroad vehicle; sold around 2015|
|Bigfoot Race Rock Vegas||Built in 1998; static display replica of #5 built for Race Rock Cafe Las Vegas; now at Illinois Auto ttractions Museum|
|Australian Bigfoot||Rebuilt in 2013 after running as Outback Thunda #3; driven by Rick Long in Australia; converted into Speed Racer in 2014|
- There are over 40 different Bigfoot paint schemes that have been used on Bigfoot trucks since its debut.
- 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, a non-operating display truck built for the Race Rock Vegas theme restaurant (to match Bigfoot 7, which went to the Race Rock Orlando location) has been unofficially called Bigfoot 13 by fans despite having been built well after 14.
- In 1998, Bigfoot 9 took a tour of Brazil. When it was due to return to the United States however, the truck was seized by Brazilian customs and was confiscated, as Bigfoot was unwilling to pay the fee to get it back. It is currently owned by Disney Hell Underworld, a private owner, who has plans to restore the truck from its currently abysmal condition.
- 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."
- 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 feet 8 inches in Indianapolis, Indiana, on September 16, 2012.
- 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 competed primarily in the United Kingdom, Russia, Belgium and other European countries.
- 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 was billed as coming from the fictional town of Cobra Creek, Colorado. Eric Meagher took over the Colt Cobra identity in 1993 driving the Snake Bite body on Bigfoot #8 while Gene drove Bigfoot #10 to second place behind Andy Brass in Bigfoot #11. Dan Runte used the pseudonym "Ricky Rattler" when driving the Snake Bite body for a short time; Ricky also was billed from Cobra Creek, Colorado. After a period of not using pseudonyms, Larry Swim used the name "Peter Python" at the Midwest Four-Wheel Drive Open house for 2009. The newest pseudonym is "Vinny Venom", which was introduced in 2016.
- Bigfoot was the first named monster truck to have a video game, published for the Nintendo Entertainment System in 1990 by Acclaim Entertainment.
- Bigfoot has been featured in three animated series. The first was Bigfoot and the Muscle Machines in the 1980s, produced by Sunbow Productions as part of a syndicated block of adventure series. A talking Bigfoot was the team vehicle on the series The Power Team, which featured characters from video games published by Acclaim Entertainment; Bigfoot was included to advertise the NES game above. Most recently, a Discovery Kids series called Bigfoot Presents: Meteor and the Mighty Monster Trucks debuted in 2006. The series features Bigfoot as a character. He has a son named Little Tow ("LT" for short).
- As of 2019, the Australian Bigfoot is the only truck to solely run as a Bigfoot after competing under a different name and team.
- Despite winning many USHRA events in the 1980s and 90s, as well as being listed as a champion on the cover of the Monster Madness VHS, Bigfoot has never actually won an official world championship with the USHRA/Monster Jam. They won the TNT Championship prior to the USHRA's purchase of TNT, but ceased running in USHRA events before the launch of the Monster Jam World Finals.
- Bigfoot would compete against Blue Thunder and numerous other Monster Jam trucks on a track built and run by USHRA officials at the Ford 100 Year event in 2003, the only time it competed for Monster Jam since parting ways in 1998. Dan Runte, in Bigfoot 14, won the event.
- Bigfoot was featured in Fetch! With Ruff Ruffman Season 3, Episode 7 “There’s Food Safety And Then There’s Food Safety” where the truck, with the 30th Anniversary body, smashed the cake and the wooden cage protecting it when the host, Ruff Ruffman wanted to the cage’s strength against the power of a Monster Truck.