As the garage doors come to a close at the Bigfoot 4x4 shop in Hazelwood, Missouri, for 2012, the team has been hard at work the entire month preparing for a heavy first-quarter of action. Every truck is in the shop getting torn down, revamped and ready for a week-in and week-out run to kick off the new year.
Their fleet of drivers experienced great success, with championships coming early and often, along with shattering records and opening new doors for looks, and performance.
Now, with the new year comes new changes for the team. Here's a look at the fleet of trucks that will be set to kick off the new year for the Original Monster Truck team:
Dan Runte: Summit Bigfoot #18
The lead driver for nearly two decades experienced his best year to date behind the wheel of a Bigfoot truck. That can be attributed to both the driver and the truck he was driving. Runte was given the reins of the all-new, revolutionary, Bigfoot #18. The Concussion Motorsports chassis incorporated a lower center of gravity, longer wheelbase, and better shock technology.
To say it was a hit would be an understatement. The truck would win it's first championship in the Toughest Monster Truck Tour to open the year, then performed extremely well during the outdoor 4-Wheel Jamboree circuit.
But it's big highlight was in Indianapolis when Runte launched the new piece an amazing 214' 8" at the Indiana State Fairgrounds to become the new long-jump record holder. Runte himself was just giddy at the truck, and he's sure to be a tough competitor to begin the new year.
Not to mention, plans are already in the works for the new Bigfoot #21 to go to Runte later in the season. That truck as well will be a Concussion chassis, but will have improvements in some areas from Runte's current piece.
But, until then, don't expect a sophomore slump from #18. It will turn heads once more in it's second season of competition.
Larry Swim: Speed Energy Bigfoot #19
One guy that Bigfoot knows is capable of going all-out is the driver of their former "Bad Boy" Bigfoot. The reason for it being "former" is because the chassis that Swim drove in 2012 is no longer competing. Bigfoot #16, which too was also driven by Runte, saw it's final event at the Indiana State Fairgrounds this past September. During freestyle, Swim rode a classic Bigfoot wheelstand, but then problems struck.
The rear of the truck caught a hill on the track, sending the machine into a roll, landing extremely hard on the asphalt. The cage was bent, shocks damaged, a rim broken, and more damage found when brought back to the shop. The chassis was repairable, however with new pieces in development, the Bigfoot team decided that it's five-year old chassis had run it's course.
Not one to keep drivers on the sidelines for long, Swim was given the keys to a unique, and very different, Bigfoot #19. The Speed Energy sponsored machine is a Chevrolet base engine, a Chevrolet off-road body, and for likely the only time, is sitting on a CRD laser-cut chassis.
Swim's debut run with the truck was in Aruba a few months ago, and the truck performed flawlessly, and proved that it can compete alongside it's Ford brothers.
Swim and #19 will return to the Checkered Flag Productions indoor series for 2013, hoping to follow-up a championship run. The truck may not be blue, or a Ford, but it's still a Bigfoot, and will be hard to beat.
Darron Schnell: Vi-Cor Bigfoot "Bessie" #15
Sometimes when an identity comes along, it just meshes with a driver. That can be said for sure with Darron Schnell when he was given the duty of driving the "cow truck" for Bigfoot. The Vi-Cor sponsorship was different for the team, but the kids and adults ate up the look, and the merchandise sales for the black and white machine were among the best of any Bigfoot truck.
Schnell saw his biggest success in Indianapolis where he won three of four racing events, and finished runner-up in the fourth. All the final rounds that weekend were between him and Mark Hall, driver of Raminator. To pick up three victories over Hall is hard enough, much less in one weekend, but Schnell earned his stripes at that event.
For 2013, Schnell is moving up in a big way. He is stepping out of Bigfoot #11, a truck that will be competing in it's 20th season, and is getting the duty of driving #15. The truck has undergone some improvements during the last month, and will also have a new look.
The Vi-Cor sponsorship will return to Schnell, however the truck will also incorporate the new desert-race body that has become popular among Bigfoot fans.
Don't be surprised if Schnell feels more aggressive with the new look, as he could turn Bessie into a "mad cow" with it's new skin.
Kyle Doyle: Firestone Bigfoot #14
One of the newest drivers on the circuit last year for the Bigfoot team was Kyle Doyle, who started out the year behind the wheel of the oldest racing truck in the stable, Bigfoot #10. After the winter season concluded, he stepped up to drive one of the more famous trucks for the team, #14.
To say he is a natural would be an understatement. Doyle had the task of carrying the colors of long-time Bigfoot sponsor, Firestone, in 2012 after Schnell got the Vi-Cor ride. However, the new shoe was very impressive behind the wheel, and will only get better as the new year progresses.
The former announcer for the Monster Nationals, following the tragic passing of George Eisenhart, has shown that he can carry the torch for Bigfoot, and will continue to do so entering the new year.
J.R. Adams: Odyssey Batteries Bigfoot #10
The toughest task for any driver is to go from just doing displays to actually getting to drive in competition. That was the case for J.R. Adams, who spent part of the year behind the wheel of Bigfoot #8, mainly doing displays for sponsors and to get him experience.
When Doyle moved up to #14, Adams took over the oldest truck in the fleet, Bigfoot #10. Despite two decades of competition, the truck is still a very proven truck and can even beat some newer pieces in some cases.
Adams will be back in 2013 with his familiar piece, and will look to gain more experience during the indoor circuit.
The only truck that has not been listed for racing is Bigfoot #11, as the team is still working out it's choice to pilot that truck beginning in the new year. So, there is a chance that a new face could be in that truck, or a chance that Adams could move up into #11 and leave a vacated seat in #10. That is still to be determined for the new year, and will be more clear when the season begins.
Still, the original monster truck team is ready for the upcoming racing season, and all the while will still be building a new truck, and also still learning about their completely electric Bigfoot #20. It was just announced that the team will partner with Autism Speaks in an effort to promote awareness for the condition. It's well known that autistic children cannot handle really loud noise, and with the regular Bigfoot trucks putting out nearly 2000 horsepower, the noise can be too much for their ears.
However, the Odyssey Battery truck that makes virtually no noise will be a major hit for this cause. All Bigfoot trucks will run the Autism Speaks logo on their trucks and haulers. It just shows the reach and the care that Bigfoot has to help bring awareness and research to find the cause and cure for such condition.
Visit Bigfoot4x4.com to see their upcoming schedule of events, and all the news regarding changes to the team, and the happenings around the shop.