When the rumors of Bigfoot's attempt to break the long jump record first hit the monster truck industry, there were just as much questions surrounding it. Wonders of where the jump would take place, when it would occur, and what all would go into preparing for the jump.
When the venue and date were set, fans and fellow drivers were ready to see if this record could be broken yet again.
At the same time, the biggest question that surrounds this jump is also the one that created some controversy when it was broken two years ago. When Joe Sylvester, the driver of the Bad Habit Cadillac, broke the original long-jump record in 2010, the setup used in his jump was much different than the one that was used when Dan Runte set the original record in Nashville, Tennessee.
First, the differences in the launch ramps were quite obvious.
When Runte made his jump over the grounded 727 jet, the ramp he used was nearly five-feet at the peak, with the length being just over the average length of a monster truck, approximately 12 feet. When Sylvester built his ramp, it was longer, taller, and also had a higher angle. The higher pitch angle for the ramp was added to help compress the suspension in order to get the needed height as well as length.
This difference was certainly obvious when Sylvester made his test jump a few days before and had one of the more destructive and scary tumbles in the industry. The right-front wheel and tire, along with the assembly, broke off, along with a ruptured fuel tank and numerous tubes broken or bent.
When Sylvester got the truck repaired, the body was destroyed and part of the chassis was welded back together.
The second difference between both jumps is actually when the truck lands, as in what they land on.
Runte jumped the 727 jet and landed on a flat surface. This provided the team with a measuring point that went from the peak of the launch ramp to where the front tires first made contact with the ground. From that launch ramp, Runte's jump was measured at 202 feet.
Sylvester's jump, on the contrary, utilized a landing ramp, much like that of a motorcycle rider when going for a long jump record. This was beneficial because it gave Sylvester a slopped landing for his truck, which would fit better with the natural movement of the truck in the air. Despite the engine being in the back, the natural motion of the truck brings the nose down when on a single jump. It let's the truck conform better to the landing.
At the same time, it also allows less of a risk of damage when the truck lands after such a jump, especially considering the speed needed.
However, the landing ramp was the biggest question mark in Sylvester's jump, at least when it came to measuring the distance. On the side of the landing ramp, there was a painted mark of the 202-foot distance. Video evidence on the jump showed that when the Bad Habit truck landed on the ramp, the front tires were beyond that distance.
When the jump was measured, the length of the jump was measured, according to the video, the jump was measured from the peak of the launch ramp, where the rear tires left the surface, to where the front tires landed.
On Sylvester's second attempt, the exact distance measured was 208.61 feet, which was farther than Runte's jump.
At the time, Guinness did not give Sylvester the record, as they wanted to see all the information submitted that it took to break the record before presenting it (truck weight, location, weather conditions, etc). On May 27, 2011, Guinness presented Sylvester with the official record for the long distance jump in a monster truck, a record that many people thought would never be broken, much less attempted.
The final big difference between the two jumps is the trucks themselves. Both trucks weighed in just over 10,000 pounds, but the key difference was in suspension setup. Runte's truck, which at the time was Bigfoot #14, had eight nitrogen shocks, four of which were a combined air-oil setup. Meanwhile, at the time of the jump, Sylvester drove a unique setup with both one standard nitrogen shock and one coil-over shock setup on each wheel.
This was key in the bigger launch ramp, as the coil suspension causes a higher ride-height and needed more compression to make the jump, similar to when a slingshot is pulled farther back to get greater launch distance.
So, when comparing the two, which in essence could be considered the more impressive?
On one hand, the fact that Bigfoot used a normal jump and massive speed to achieve the distance, and was able to drive away from the hard landing that ensued. On the other hand, the Bad Habit jump came just days after the truck was destroyed in a test jump and took two different attempts to make the distance.
Now, with less than a month until Runte takes the new Bigfoot 18 into orbit at the Indiana State Fairgrounds, people began questioning how the jump would work, as in the ramp and how the setup would be.
According to Bigfoot, they will do a similar setup for this jump as they did in 1999, with a five-foot ramp and a flat landing. This will give no doubt as to the distance needed as the measurement will once again come from the top of the ramp to where the truck makes contact with the ground, just like every long jump Bigfoot has done in years past.
Runte originally set the long-jump record in 1995 in Houston at over 100 feet, then it was then-teammate Eric Tack who flew 117 feet. Runte would break his record twice in 1999, first at Bloomsburg, PA at a distance of 144 feet, then the Nashville jump that stood for over 11 years.
Meanwhile, the hype leading up to Bad Habit's jump was just as big, as many wondered if the record would be broken at all, much less attempted.
Some fans are for the Bad Habit Cadillac, others are for the Bigfoot Ford. Some still are saying that Sylvester didn't make the distance, and are questioning how it was measured, including Runte himself.
But now, there's going to be no questioning come September 16 as to who holds the long jump record. Either Sylvester will hold onto the record, or Runte will reclaim it. Family Events has the venue finalized, the time has been set up, the hope for favorful weather conditions provide Runte with the perfect setup to get back a record he held for over a decade.
Whether he breaks the record or whether he doesn't, the attempt will impress every fan, crew member and fellow driver that is honored to witness it.