History of Monster Trucks from Bob Chandler’s Bigfoot & Grave Digger to Monster Jams & More


Crushing vehicles into maimed steel carcasses, defying gravity by launching off loaded volumes of dirt, gargantuan vehicles have entertained the adrenaline pumped masses for the past few decades. Monster trucks take their over-sized tires, customized bodies, and freestyle tricks to the extreme. With adrenaline fueled music, amazing light displays, and intense environments; men, women, and children flock to see these impressive masters of machinery at play. But where did the mayhem all start? Bigfoot was one of the massive hulks that go this impressive destructive fun and games underway, but there is a little more history than that and we at Kruse Museums would like to share some of it today.

Bob Chandler’s Bigfoot Monster Truck

During the 1970s heavily modified trucks were a popular trend and their demand was only increased by the sports of mud bogging and tractor pulling. Outfitting their vehicles with tires that topped out at 48”, several truck owners created lifted trucks to operate at peak performance. Becoming the first large truck on record in 1981 to drive over some cars to test the truck’s capabilities, Bob Chandler’s Bigfoot, was one of the biggest trucks even considered to be the first-ever monster truck. An event promoter eventually got hold of Chandler’s video tape of his truck’s unorthodox successful capabilities and decided it was the next big craze to entertain audiences. After Bigfoot performed at a few small shows he debuted in 1982 at the Pontiac Silverdome. This would be the event that the truck Bigfoot, who sported 66 inch tires, would coin the name the “monster truck”.

Outdoor Monster Truck Crushing Car Events

The tradition of driving over cars began with the legendary Bigfoot, but soon following to join the fun and excitement, other “monster trucks” were included in the fray. Generally as a sideshow attraction during tractor-pulling events, the monster trucks would mostly just drive slowly over old cars in the beginning. Bold feats at the time, there were nonetheless exciting despite like being nothing in comparison to modern monster truck rallies.

Grave Digger & Other Trucks at Monster Jams

As technology and driving skills improved over the course of time, the craze only continued. Organizing and booking stunt shows across the country, the United States Hot Rod Association (USHRA) realized its potential early in the 1980s. An official touring show called Monster Jam was created in 1995. Continuing to escalate and developing bigger, better, and more capable truck bodies, motors, and suspensions, the Monster Jam franchise, operated by Feld Entertainment, really took the sport to new levels. To ensure monster truck drivers were protected during the more dangerous stunts, rules and a variety of safety measures were established. Trucks like the famous Grave Digger and other celebrity trucks arose in the in the Monster Jam.

Military & Automotive Museums in Auburn, Indiana

Pulling away from their tractor-pulling origins, changes allowed the sport to evolve and now, monster trucks as we have come to know and love entertain the crowd at shows and event around the globe. As tribute to the Monster Truck franchise, Kruse Museum honors the history along other automobiles as they evolved. We are proud to be the home of International Monster Truck Museum Hall of Fame. Come and see what monster trucks and other exhibits we have on display today!

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