How did the monster truck story begin? Bob Chandler’s bigfoots and what they are – the Godzillas of the automotive world. Some people mistakenly call all cars with huge wheels “bigfoots”. However, this is not quite true. Deeply modified SUVs with large wheels are called bigfoots. At the same time, another class of cars originated from bigfoots – monster trucks. These cars have a special, most often custom design and simply huge wheels.
In this article, you will learn about how Bigfoot and Monster Trucks came to be, and why the shows that feature these cars have gained such popularity in the United States. Read on to find out more.
The original bigfoot monster truck – 1979
The first car of this design was not assembled for military purposes or the needs of hunters. Bigfoot was created for fun. Officially, the first is the car of a resident of St. Louis (Missouri) Bob Chandler.
It all started with the fact that Bob simply did not have enough spare parts for SUVs. So he started his small family business and decided to convert his old 1974 Ford F-250 into a car that would attract customers to the store.
In the beginning, the pickup just got big wheels from the tractor. However, soon Bob wanted to make the car even more unusual, making it fully controllable. That is so that all the wheels of the car drive and can be controlled. It is the 4x4x4 form that underlies most modern monster trucks.
Curiously, the classic Bigfoot #1 is still in good shape today, showing off its abilities from time to time on various shows.
Car Crushin’ – 1981
In 1981, the incredible happened. Bob’s store was visited by a man who turned out to be the manager of the USHRA racing series, in which the trucks performed. Shocked by what he saw, he invited Bob to entertain spectators on the track in between races, to which the store owner happily agreed.
When viewers first saw Bob’s Bigfoot smashing cars, they were jubilant. At the same time, in 1981, Chandler enlisted the support of Ford and completely focused on the development and improvement of the design of monster trucks. With each refinement, he strengthened the elements of the car, boosted the engine, and modified the transmission and chassis.
Bob even bought a few more Ford F-250s, one of which, #3, was seen in the movie Police Academy 2.
Bigfoot 5 – 1986
Even though Chandler devoted all his time to cars, the first bigfoots were far from perfect. Wheels fell off, engines could hardly move 8-10-ton trucks, the transmission was blown to pieces now and then from overloads, and drivers received back injuries due to too rigid suspension on multi-leaf springs.
Nevertheless, cars performed their role as a show car. Bob used his monster Ford trucks to haul railroad cars, turn brick walls to dust, and crush cars in bulk. However, the team’s dream was to be able to confidently jump from a springboard. Therefore, it was decided to create a new monster, calculating its design from scratch.
Chandler ended up buying 10-foot-diameter wheels cheaply in 1986 from the famous TC-497 Overland Train Mark II, built by Overland for the US Army in the late 1950s.
The chassis was built specifically for the huge wheels. The new Bigfoot #5 was 15,48 feet long and weighed 17,7 tons. It is the largest and heaviest of all American monster trucks and the largest in history.
By the way, Bob bought two sets of wheels – for two cars. Another Bigfoot with the same wheels was built in 1988.
Monster Jam. Bigfoot on National Television – 1992
Chandler’s cars have successfully entertained audiences on all sorts of shows for several years, and then the big feet hit television. This marked a turning point in the history of huge trucks. Since then, the show with the participation of monster trucks could be watched on TV by anyone. So they gained fame and popularity in the United States.
Extremely spectacular events are arranged on these machines. In the early 2000s, timed races over a terrain littered with various debris, old cars, mud, and other obstacles became popular. The rules are simple: you need to be the first to overcome the distance.
What was conceived as entertainment for spectators between races has itself become a sports discipline, with its own rules, regulations, and records.
Prototypes of modern monsters
When engineers in the late 90s switched from whatman paper and pencils to computers, they began to create physical and mathematical models of new monster trucks. The main goal is to reduce weight and increase power.
They came up with a solution to use chrome-molybdenum hollow tubes for making frames instead of steel ones. This made it possible to add rigidity to the structure and reduce its weight. Engines were used from dragsters.
And gearboxes have small gear ratios. Due to this, the transmission can carry high loads. As a result, modern monster trucks accelerate to 60 mph in 5 seconds, although they consume a lot of fuel.
World Record – 2002
In 2002, Bigfoot #2 was officially recognized as the largest and heaviest monster truck in the world. And took its place in the Guinness Book of Records.
How many bigfoot monster trucks are there? Bob Chandler’s Bigfoots
According to this information , as of early 2021, 25 bigfoots were built under the leadership of Bob Chandler. For the most part, all cars are unique, there is even a tracked vehicle called Bigfoot Fastrax.
The cost of one such car is $100,000-300,000. Annual maintenance costs can go up to $500,000. It all depends on how often the car gets into accidents.
Bigfoot Monster Truck – the largest electric car
The trend to save fossil fuels and switch to renewable energy sources has touched the world of monster trucks. More precisely, one of the companies that specializes in the production of such cars – Bigfoot Monster Truck.
Odyssey Battery Bigfoot No. 20 Monster Truck is the first electric vehicle in its class. For this monster, a special electric motor was designed, which combines high power and the ability to develop high revs. 10 batteries are responsible for powering the engine, providing a voltage of 360V. The car’s electric brakes use 6 more batteries.
The total weight of the batteries is approximately 1,380 pounds. That’s a lot, so a special frame made of carbon fiber was designed for the car.
How does a monster truck work?
The manufacture of a monster track begins with the construction of a spatial frame, on which all other units and assemblies will subsequently be installed.
In general, the frames of modern cars are made from hollow chrome-molybdenum alloy tubes, 2-2,5 inches in diameter. The shape of the frame is precisely calculated on the computer so that all loads are compensated and evenly distributed. Frame weight averages 1,800 pounds.
The 66-inch wheels can weigh 750 pounds. And this is after trimming the tread of standard agricultural tires. Without special trimming measures, the wheel can weigh up to 1,100 lbs. This is a lot. Although, in a modified form, the wheelset weighs an average of 3,000 pounds.
To rotate such heavy wheels, you need a very powerful motor. Standard pickup engines with a volume of 5-6 liters will not be enough for a monster truck. Therefore, they take special engines with a volume of 9-10 liters, which are used in drag racing and run on methanol. The power of such units can reach 1500-2000 hp.
The engine is installed in the center, with a slight offset downward and aft. This is necessary to improve weight distribution and avoid nose-diving when jumping over obstacles. Also, this arrangement of the engine lowers the center of gravity of the machine, which improves its stability.
Monster trucks use automatic transmissions. Like engines, gearboxes are most often taken from dragsters. This is an automatic transmission with reinforced components and an oversized torque converter.
Despite all the tweaks in the design, the monster tracks still quite often tip over and overturn. Therefore, the spatial frame partially serves as a skeleton for the rigidity of the cockpit.
The suspension on monster trucks is very specific. It is designed to withstand high loads during jumping and be soft enough for the pilot to drive in a comfortable enough environment. And as well as to prevent the car from resonating and bouncing when landing after jumping.
The average suspension travel of a modern monster truck is 23-27 inches, and sometimes more. Accordingly, special springs and double shock absorbers of huge height, filled with nitrogen and with remote oil reservoirs, are needed.
The monster truck has no direct connection between the wheels and the steering wheel. No steering gear can withstand the stresses that a car is subjected to when performing tricks. The steering wheel is controlled only by supplying pressure to the steering ramp, and the wheels are turned exclusively by a hydraulic drive.
At the same time, monster trucks can turn both the front and rear wheels. Independently of each other. If desired, the pilot can deactivate the steering gear of the rear wheels.
The body gives the Bigfoot the appearance of a regular car, traditionally a pickup or SUV. At the same time, the standard body from pickups and other cars is not used for obvious reasons. Instead, fiberglass panels are installed that only imitate a production car.
Although monster trucks did not become particularly popular outside the United States, a specific subculture has formed around them. These cars are unique in their design, have their history and fans. Besides, at first glance, a staged show can awake a keen interest in technology in children and young people, which in itself can benefit society.