A mechanic in his shop gave the truck the nickname Bigfoot because of the way Bob would drive it, heavy foot on the gas pedal…

When I first started my career in the off-road and truck accessory business I was a young and impressionable 18 year-old.

I was impressed with some of the successful off-road shops in the US but I wondered how they had become so succeeded in business. One that came to mind was Midwest Four-Wheel-Drive & Performance Centre, owned by Bob Chandler, creator of the legendary Bigfoot monster trucks. Back then large off-road tires for pickups were not available; this forced Bob to think outside the box and looked to the agriculture industry. He bought a set of 48” tall Firestone tires and along with some custom made wheels; he mounted them onto his truck.

People from all over the states started talking about his truck. He was invited to car shows and tractor pulls and that started drawing attention from the four wheel drive magazines. His shop also started to grow rather quickly with all the new interests in 4×4 modifications. A mechanic in his shop gave the truck the nickname Bigfoot because of the way Bob would drive it, heavy foot on the gas pedal.

I was looking through one of those magazines and saw a small picture taken from just outside the shop bay door. It was his truck with 66” tall Goodyear tires. I remember thinking he was crazy. After that the monster truck craze began. I was fortunate enough to meet Bob at a trade show in Las Vegas. His truck was there on display and he was outside sitting at a table having lunch. I approached him, not recognizing him in his cowboy hat and asked if the spare seat was taken. Very nice man, he shared with me some of his frustrations with parts breaking and how he ended up custom building a lot of parts in his own shop. Other people started building their own trucks and soon side-by-side competition began.

There were crazy names for these trucks such as; Goliath, Taurus, King-Kong, Grave Digger, and Samson. It was a big thrill for many just to see these trucks drive slowly over some junk cars. They would stop in the middle and get out a wave. Soon fans wanted to see more, so the trucks would pop a wheelie before crushing them. Two cars became eight and then buses.

I saw Taurus drive up several cars and onto the roof of two double decker buses. The truck came very close to rolling off, but after a few adjustments to the rear steering he climbed along and then off. The suspension of that time was more about lift height to accommodate the largest tires rather than full suspension travel which came next. The Baja race trucks could handle large jumps without any trouble, so the monster trucks started the change. Massive coil over shocks and four-point suspension that could handle the weight and abuse these trucks would dish out. Now the monster trucks could hit the cars at tremendous speed and fly through the air impressing all. Bigfoot #18 holds the Guinness World Record for the longest jump by a Monster truck at 214’ 8”.

The popularity of these trucks continues to grow to this day and with more advanced technology who knows what the next wave of Monster Trucks will look like?

Contact: ian [dot] harwood [at] drivewaybc [dot] ca

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