The Godfather of Monster Vehicles | Senior Lifetimes

When you listen to the expression “monster truck” a single identify will come to mind . . . Bigfoot!

Soon after 41 decades, Bob Chandler, 74, the gentleman who began a worldwide phenomena is semi retired, but does not believe he’ll at any time hang it up absolutely.

Considering that his car-crushing times are above, he and his spouse Marilyn are on the road photographing The usa and its wildlife.

“We’ve been all above the entire world, but by no means observed anything at all,” Chandler said all through a pay a visit to to the Bigfoot headquarters in Pacific. “I don’t have to offer with the day-to-day head aches, but I’m listed here at the store most days we are property.”

The Beginning

In the mid 1970s, ahead of the mega feeling of monster vans gripped the world and Bigfoot was a home title, Chandler, who is a Navy veteran, was creating modifications to his pickup truck to make it taller, much more strong and off-street prepared.

“I was generally a gear-head,” Chandler stated. “I had a 4-wheel generate truck and could not get it serviced any place. Soon, my close friends started purchasing 4x4s also and started out to develop up their trucks.”

It wasn’t extended in advance of Chandler, a carpenter by trade, was generating tailor made bumpers and other off-road merchandise for his truck and for his good friends simply because they could not just go to the store and acquire them like you can currently.

“We started off Midwest 4×4 Centre in 1975,” Chandler said. “I guess we have been in the suitable spot at the proper time. We had been working 7 days a 7 days and under no circumstances received caught up. We would function every night and every weekend till it just bought to be as well a lot. So I quit my occupation and we’ve been likely whole bore for 41 decades.”

Immediately after the initial retailer opened in Chandler’s hometown of Ferguson, growing pains pressured the bulging small business to glance for a larger facility and Hazelwood would quickly develop into residence of Bigfoot and stay that way right until 2015.

As the business enterprise grew, so did need for Chandler’s goods as he traveled to motor athletics events all over the nation with his truck, showing off its capabilities and components.

Crushing Cars

“One day I was viewing Wide Globe of Sports and they had a Toyota pickup push its entrance tires onto a few of cars and trucks that had been 50 % buried in the floor,” Chandler mentioned. “I advised my spouse our truck could generate clean about individuals cars and trucks.”

A couple of weeks later on, Chandler and a few of his close friends acquired some wrecked cars and trucks and his truck did accurately what he considered it would.

“At the time I experienced 4-foot-tall tires on my truck,” Chandler said. “I confirmed the video clip of us likely more than the automobiles to a promoter and he said we have got to get you in front of a crowd. The to start with time we ever did it in public was in Jefferson Town. At the time we observed the way the crowd reacted we all knew we experienced anything there.”


As Chandler’s acceptance grew, so did the sizing of his truck and contrary to common belief, Bigfoot didn’t get its title because of major tires.

“One of my pals gave me the nickname Bigfoot,” Chandler mentioned. “I was constantly coming back again to the shop with one thing broken for the reason that of my major foot on the gasoline pedal.”

Chandler said the initial time he debuted Bigfoot No. 1 (they are at present performing on Bigfoot No. 23) and vehicle crushing to a large viewers was close to 1980 in the Pontiac Silverdome in the vicinity of Detroit, Mich.

“There had been 68,000 folks in the stands and we have been booked as the intermission amusement,” Chandler explained. “We went above the automobiles a couple of periods and when we had been done we parked on best of them and bought out to wave to the crowd. They acquired so psyched, about 30,000 folks came down from their seats and flooded on to the arena floor to see the truck up shut.”

Chandler stated the promoter of that exhibit also was the announcer that night and he was the initially particular person to use the time period “monster truck.”

“We hardly ever imagined it would go on this prolonged,” Chandler reported. “I recall we would sit down at the finish of just about every calendar year and figure how to go to as quite a few exhibits as feasible just before persons lost curiosity. It just type of blossomed from there and people all over the place started off setting up their personal vehicles.”

Recognition Grows

As the new monster truck trend grew in recognition, so did the Bigfoot name with publications, television and movies knocking on the doorway to profile the truck and Chandler.

“It genuinely took off when they started off putting us on the addresses of the journals,” Chandler stated. “We’ve been in seven films (“Roadhouse”, “Cannonball Run”, “Take this Career and Shove it”, etc.). We’ve also been on the Tonight Clearly show with Jay Leno a couple of periods. We’ve taken Bigfoot to 23 countries and had been blessed to work with a large amount of neat individuals.”

Chandler additional a person of his favourite people today to do the job with was Edsell Ford, who initially aided him secure the Ford sponsorship of Bigfoot.

Of class, as with just about anything that can make revenue, other groups began constructing their individual vehicles and at a person time St. Louis was the monster truck capital of the planet with about a dozen groups copying Chandler’s layouts.

“I really do not know why, but it was a Midwest phenomena,” Chandler reported. “We’ve often experimented with to stay in advance, but men and women copy us. The far more trucks there had been, the extra we had to contend and put on exhibits with. At one particular time I experienced patented a suspension, but permit it go immediately after a several decades so the other men could use it on their vans also and be competitive.”

Chandler reported the exhibits originally began out as just vehicle-crushing and freestyle expositions, then the trucks commenced racing facet by facet by aspect, which was additional thrilling and perilous.

“We usually did our greatest to make confident our vehicles had been in top rated form and wouldn’t split down during a display,” Chandler reported. “Some fellas would tear their truck up in the to start with race and the group beloved it. Then, while we ended up even now racing, he’d be up in the stands marketing $10,000 worthy of of T-shirts. Very seriously even though, we were being like a loved ones, if someone’s truck broke down, we ended up all chipping in to get them back on the monitor.”

Truck Specs

These monster vans are not your day to day run of the mill pickups, but are shockingly affordable to establish.

“Each truck expenditures about $150,000 to build,” Chandler spelled out. “Preventative upkeep has normally been the important to our achievements. I’m however amazed at the talent of the mechanics in this shop who can acquire a truck aside and place it back together virtually effortlessly.”

The vehicles are equipped with 575-cubic-inch motors that generate 1,500 to 1,600 horsepower (regular vans are about 300 horsepower), offering 1,400 foot kilos of torque, which Chandler says is the key to monster truck racing.

In full, the vehicles weigh about 11,000 lbs . with the reduced chassis weighing far more than the higher.

The tires on a monster truck are 66 inches tall and price about $1,200 apiece.

Numerous of these expensive areas and products are paid for with funding from sponsors like Firestone, Lucas Oil, Summit Racing and lots of other people.

The Brand

Chandler stated the relationship in between Bigfoot and children has normally been a driving power behind their corporation and admits it is the emphasize of his 4-10 years monster truck profession.

“I recall coming up to a single little person right after a race and he was crying,” Chandler mentioned. “I questioned why and he said since Bigfoot shed the race. I informed him losing was portion of lifetime and we’d be back again the next race to do our best.”

The Bigfoot truck is recognised around the world and Chandler has normally prided himself with maintaining the brand name a healthful image on T-shirts, toy vehicles and products of all sorts.

“I knew all together I desired to maintain it clean up,” Chandler stated. “A good deal of the journals desired to place women in bikinis in pictures with the vehicles, but I generally explained to them no. At initial I wasn’t even confident if I wished to crush automobiles in front of young children mainly because it was way too damaging. I justified it to myself that they were being junk autos that have been likely to the scrap property in any case.”

Chandler added the Bigfoot firm has often finished its greatest to make youngsters with disabilities sense exclusive and the recent lover club president, who life in Iowa, is a person of people in distinct.

“Whenever we have a crew heading by way of that way, they are absolutely sure to stop by his home and pay a visit to him,” Chandler said. “We actually manufactured a recording of the truck engines that he listens to at evening to enable him go to sleep.”

Chandler extra his shop has just formulated the world’s first all electric powered monster truck, which can be made use of to set on demonstrates for children with autism, who would ordinarily be impacted by the loud noises.


Even though Chandler, who is a member of three unique halls of fame, is way too humble to admit he is the godfather of the around the world monster truck field, the a single factor he claims will make him most proud is safety.

Around the many years he, along with others, has prepared and rewritten the protection pointers for monster truck events that have unquestionably saved the life of countless drivers and spectators.

“Back in my driving times, the security equipment was a seat belt and a cowboy hat,” Chandler explained. “Now, a third of the devices on a truck is intended for basic safety.”

A person of the significant improvements now is a remote ignition interrupt swap that is operated by a person from just about every truck’s crew on the ground of the stadium.

That crew member acts as an supplemental set of eyes and ears in case a little something goes incorrect in the driver’s seat.

Far more lenient basic safety regulations several years back led to what Chandler says is the lowest stage in his job.

“I don’t forget the very first demise from a monster truck was a spectator,” Chandler stated. “It wasn’t our truck, but I felt somewhat dependable. If it had been a person of mine, I’d shut the doorways to the small business.”

Scaling Again

Right now, billion-dollar conglomerates like Florida-primarily based Feld Enjoyment, which owns and operates numerous indoor shows such as Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey, Monster Jam, Monster Power Supercross, Nuclear Cowboyz, AMSOIL Arenacross, Marvel Universe Are living!, Disney On Ice and Disney Are living, ebook up indoor venues for weeks at a time, pushing out independents like Chandler.

“Those guys do not like to share,” Chandler reported. “Plus, all of their displays are scripted and the results are by now planned. They can carry in filth for one celebration and use it for demonstrates the future a few weekends.”

In its heyday, Bigfoot was represented at concerning 1,100 and 1,200 displays each and every year, right now that number is a bit decrease, but is nevertheless amazing.

“We are accomplishing among 600 and 800 functions per yr,” Chandler explained. “We have six or 7 vans out almost all the time, undertaking three exhibits a weekend.”

Chandler’s daughter, son-in-law and other youngsters are now the gears in the device powering Bigfoot, and Chandler feels his legacy is in fantastic palms.

“They have new suggestions for human body designs and paint schemes,” Chandler explained. “They are just strengthening on what we’ve got. I never think I’ll at any time be totally out of the organization. I just enjoy it too substantially.”

Chandler suggests soon after 20 yrs in the driver’s seat, he was material to check out from the sidelines.

“I used 20 decades of my daily life as a carpenter,” Chandler said. “And 40 a long time as an entrepreneur. I think I’d be just as satisfied as both one. People today think this took exclusive expertise. You just do what you can manage, then you hold heading and building it better. If I experienced studied to be an engineer, I would have never designed a monster truck.”

The Go

After 35 several years in Hazelwood, Chandler approved an present from the Bommarito Automotive Team to order the key locale and moved his Bigfoot headquarters to Pacific in August 2015.

“He had been immediately after me for yrs to invest in the house,” Chandler mentioned. “It was time for a alter anyway. Out right here we’ve obtained 3 acres to shift all-around and the sound won’t bother the neighbors. The hardest element was going every little thing we have gathered over the years. We nonetheless have two truckloads of things we have not unloaded.”

Chandler extra he has always appreciated four-wheeling in Franklin County and the town of Pacific has been great to get the job done with while they have been attaining and increasing their new store.

“God, they’ve been wonderful to us,” Chandler reported. “The mayor and everyone has been fantastic.”