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An Open House Allows Bigfoot to Give Back to Hometown

Giving back to one’s community comes natural when the cause is worth the effort.  Communities raise money for their local areas for reasons going from school functions to volunteer workers, materials to improve parks and landscaping, and also to those that protect them to ensure the area is safe and secure.

How they do it is anything from boot drives, basket sales, auctions or baked goods.

Then, there’s some communities that get a big help in a big way, from people that may not even live in the town, or even the state.

Team Bigfoot, the original monster truck, has called the area of Pacific, Missouri, their home for the last several years after moving from their long-time headquarters in Hazelwood.  The team needed more room, both to work on their vehicles, but also in case teams were traveling through and needed an area to work on their pieces.  More room for storage, maintenance not only on the trucks but the haulers, and to also test equipment has given the originators of the monster truck industry a feeling of still being in their home state, just a new town.

Bigfoot has been welcomed to Pacific so much, the Bigfoot Plaza just off Interstate 44 was constructed, complete with a retired-from-competition truck that no one can mistake, even at 70 MPH.

All year long, Bigfoot makes the journey across the US, to Mexico, Canada and even a world tour across Europe, Australia, and the Middle East.  However, one time in the year, the roles reverse.

Summertime for Bigfoot means they prepare for what they say is their favorite event of the year, because instead of the team traveling to see the fans, the fans instead travel to the Bigfoot headquarters for an event.  What was a great event in Hazelwood has become a true destination event for the summer, and for the second consecutive year, Bigfoot decided to give back to the Pacific community.

Lead driver Darron Schnell honored his boss, and hall of famer, Dan Runte in a split-scheme tribute.

The opportunity to attend the event came this year, as hundreds of people came to tolerate the warm temperatures, but also have a chance to leave with their own one-off memento from the day’s event.

While the race trucks have been on the road, and overseas, the paint shop got busy in April to do something that would be seen for only one day.  Using one of their prior Super Duty bodies that had been ran years prior, the fiberglass got sanded down, so a blank canvas could be utilized.  It was decided that this body was going to get one last ride, then those in attendance would then get a chance to bid on each piece, to take them home, dirt and all, once the day was over.

Bigfoot did the same thing one year ago, as the Super Duty body that ran on the #21 chassis driven by long-time Bigfoot driver, former VP of Operations, and second-class Hall of Fame inductee Jim Kramer used for what was officially termed his “Last Ride” all were bid on and won by fans, with proceeds going to the Jeff White Memorial Skate Park.  This year was no different, as the Skate Park once again would receive all proceeds from the body panel auction.

Helping the Pacific community meant also a way of honoring one of their own.

For 35 years, another Bigfoot team member remained committed to the organization.  From crewman, to their most successful driver, and now the VP of Operations, Dan Runte has shown his loyalty to the entire organization, and to the fanbase.  After all, to him, it’s “All about the t-shirts.”  This year, even though he would not be driving, he would still be given a tribute that would be one-and-done from Bigfoot.

The paint shop took that Super Duty body, let the paint flow, the air brush magic take place, and what was revealed was a scheme to honor a couple infamous paint schemes Runte ran in his career.

On the right, it was a throwback to the 1995 Penda Points championship, with the black basecoat and white overlay, complete with flames, honoring the Power Wheels scheme that also had a matching uniform.  The left side would go blue, with more white, yellow and a hint of orange, honoring the “Chromalusion” scheme that he piloted to the 2001 ProMT racing championship.

Every body panel at the days’ end would get removed from the truck, seven total pieces, and seven winning fans would go home with an autographed piece of fiberglass that would never see the track again.

The Open House welcomed people from everywhere.  Meeting people from as far east as Jersey, fans from Canada made the international trip down, and others flew in from California to experience the once-a-year spectacle.  Former drivers like Kramer, a staple at the event, came down to see vehicles that he helped build, and even drive, get shown off.  Gene Patterson made his annual drive down, as last year he was there to see the return of Bigfoot #4 to the fleet and sit beside it’s younger brother vehicles.

This year’s event saw the return of two vehicles that Bigfoot is very familiar with.  After being found in a field a little over a year ago, the Bigfoot Ranger was resurrected right down to the last detail as though it came straight out of 1989.

The Bigfoot Ranger, after over a year of hard work and dedication, has returned.

People clamored around to see the renewed beast, and felt incredibly happy once they heard the monster 571 cu. in. engine fire up.

Right down from the performance area, sitting outside the merchandise tent, another returning beast was standing alongside Bigfoot #8, but this one had no blue anywhere to be seen.  Instead, the green wheel covers welcomed fans, along with the red paint, the flashing green eyes, and the pair of fangs hanging off the front.  Somehow, Bigfoot’s biggest and longest rival, made his way into the Bigfoot compound, bringing about the original ride that stuck it’s fangs into the competition 33 years earlier.

Colt Cobra made the trip from Cobra Creek, Colorado, and brought with him the original Snake Bite.  The Bigfoot fans all felt nostalgic at that moment, seeing the red and yellow beast sitting right beside the truck it faced numerous times in that first season.  It was safe to say that the Snake still had venom left in its fangs all these years later.

The nostalgia continued as Bigfoot 1 sat on display at the front of the showroom, with Bigfoot 12 flanked down at the corner with the same body style.  At the back, the biggest pickup truck on record was surrounded by fans, all wanting a chance to stand in the wheels when surrounded by the massive 120×48 tires or walk underneath looking up at its chain-driven dual transfer cases.

Needless to say, all these years later, Bigfoot 5 still makes the oldest fan feel like a child.

For those that see the advances in technology, the all-electric Bigfoot 20 was shown off with all 36 batteries powering everything from steering to brakes, as people asked questions about how it works and the benefits of the electric truck.

From the smallest of trucks, whether diecast or RC’s, to the world-record monster, the Bigfoot Open House has everything that a fan of the originators of the monster truck could experience.

A pair of car crush showcases with some old-school designed trucks, complete with leaf springs and steel bodies, had fans smiling, especially when the metal began to bend and break, while a couple of the trucks showed that even though they were an older design, they still knew how to sky it up in the air.

One cannot come to the Bigfoot Open House without paying a visit to the Bigfoot Plaza to see ole #10.

What started the afternoon, and what closed the afternoon, was Schnell taking the #15 chassis, a truck he and his wife have both driven in their career, was giving the fans a chance to see one of the oldest trucks in the fleet strut its stuff, and kick up lots of dust.  At the end of the day, the power ratchet, the wrenches, and the crew came over and all seven panels for the truck came off, and the silent auction concluded.

In the end, Bigfoot gave back to the town they now call home, as the seven panels raised an excellent amount to go towards the skate park so that the kids of Pacific can enjoy getting out their skateboards and even hit some BMX stunts.

When the decision to move away from the longtime home location to a new facility came about, it was about expansion, better facilities, and a place to test the trucks without having to load the trailer to do so.

One thing that has not changed since it was first done is that the Open House is a destination event that has continued to grow over the last several years, and next year’s event could be the biggest they have ever held.

The 2025 calendar year marks the 50th anniversary of Bigfoot, and also marks 50 years of the entire monster truck industry.

One day after all the machines were loaded back into the shop area, or tired down to load up on trailers, immediately the thought shifted to what could be done for the following year to make the 50th anniversary celebration one of the biggest events of the entire year.

My plans already will be including a trip out to see the celebration, alongside the entire monster truck family, to honor the truck that started it all.

The Bigfoot Open House truly is the ultimate event for the team to give back to the community, and is becoming the best event on the schedule for the undeniable King of the Monster Trucks.

About Dustin Parks

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