The most famous monster truck, the one that is most recognized by new and old fans, is Bigfoot. But in reality, there were two recognized trucks and owners that changed the industry. The first was Bigfoot, and the second…USA-1.
But there is one thing Bigfoot didn’t achieve, the First “World Championship.”
That designation is saved for USA-1. In fact, in order to officially lock down that championship, it came down to one race, one that was against Bigfoot.
Over the years, because of many changes in the industry, USA-1 hasn’t been seen as much. The truck is seen at displays and exhibition car crushes, has been in parades, and made ventures to the International Monster Truck Hall of Fame. Most recently, the original 1970 USA-1 Chevrolet was displayed at the Hall of Fame back in 2011, along with last year showing the 1988 World Champion truck alongside the brand new USA-1 race truck, owned by Roger Gauger.
That new USA-1 monster truck was debuted last January, and as the weeks passed Gauger and the new Concussion Motorsports piece worked the bugs out. His run with Monster X was the first time that the name USA-1 ran on a competitive series since 1993. Gauger would win the final three events on that tour, showing that he and the truck had become one strong team. But it seemed that the name didn’t get the recognition it once did, or deserved.
It’s mainly because the biggest promoter during the bulk of the monster truck season is not the one USA-1 ran with. But, what if that were to change…even if it was for just one weekend? What if that name was to return for an appearance with Monster Jam, or USHRA as it was once known? What if USA-1 and the USHRA were to join forces for the first time in nearly three decades?
Well, it is happening.
On the weekend of February 19-20, at the Richmond Coliseum, Gauger and the new USA-1 will debut with Monster Jam.
So, why would USA-1 come to run with Monster Jam, a tour that some say would never see USA-1 compete at. There could be many reasons, and at the same time there have been a lot of changes to Monster Jam, especially beginning this season. For the first time, a monster truck promoter actually has an official tire for competition. BKT has become the new tire for competition, one that is required for teams that compete on a full-time basis for the first quarter.
The only exemptions are teams that sign on to run a maximum of three weekends. Otherwise, teams that are not a “corporate” truck, have to buy the new tires in order to run with Monster Jam. Unfortunately, some teams either don’t have the funding to buy a whole set for competition, especially when it’s for only one tour. That limits the number of independent teams that could tour with Monster Jam because not all have the budget to purchase the new rubber, especially if it’s only for a low amount of events.
Maybe this is a reason USA-1 is coming for this event, because it means Gauger doesn’t have to buy the tires needed to run the full schedule.
But at the same time, the big story is the fact that USA-1 has not worked with USHRA on any level for nearly three decades. The last indication that the two worked together was in 1990. Shortly after the end of the TNT season that year, where USA-1 finished a respectable sixth in the standings, USHRA bought out TNT for competition, and original monster truck racing series disappeared.
The fact that it has been this long since these two came together is quite amazing. It is a link between the old USHRA, from when the industry began, to the Monster Jam product that is seen today. What is even more shocking is the fact that many haven’t been talking about the big deal that it truly is.
Many younger fans don’t realize the impact USA-1 had on this industry. Being the first world champion is something no one can take away, nor can the first official Chevrolet-backed monster truck be duplicated. USA-1 has those distinctions, but in the modern era, not many realize the impact that USA-1 had on this sport.
So are fans going to get the USA-1 of old, where it became the first truck to have multiple wrecks in a season, but come back to compete and still make a run at a championship?
Maybe not, but the fact the two are working together again is in itself an amazing feat.
So for fans, this is a unique opportunity to see a historic name run with a promoter that USA-1 has not run with in decades. The truck is recognized by many, but many of those fans have been around the sport for a long while. They remember back to the days of Rod Litzau, Steve Wilke, Mark Hall, and Kirk Dabney spending some time at the wheel. Some may have even seen one weekend in 2001 when USA-1 was run by Randy Brown, who is now doing quite well behind the wheel of Grave Digger.
But for the new crop of fans, this is a new experience, one that needs to be remembered, and savored. The USA-1 name deserves a lot of credit for what has happened in the history of the industry.
To see the USHRA, or Monster Jam as it is recognized now, and this truck come together again is like seeing Joe Montana suit up one final time for the San Francisco 49ers, or Michael Jordan lace up the shoes one more time for the Chicago Bulls. It’s an opportunity to take the old guard and have them join the new generation.
Visit MonsterJam.com to get your tickets to the show, and also USA-14×4.com to find out the history behind the first world champion.