Shattered Monster Truck getting some air
Shattered Monster Truck getting some air by Nathan Rupert (CC BY-NC-ND)
Shattered Monster Truck getting some air
Shattered Monster Truck getting some air by Nathan Rupert (CC BY-NC-ND)

Memorable Monsters

If massive suspension systems and 66-inch tires are your thing, if you can't get excited about an engine unless it has four-digit horsepower, if watching junkyard cars get squashed like bugs makes you feel like a kid again, you're probably a monster truck fan. What started as a friendly rivalry between two regular guys with a penchant for trucks that were anything but regular is now a billion-dollar industry with fans all over the world. The monster truck phenomenon started in the early 1980s and today, it's bigger than it's ever been. These are the trucks that defined the sport, captured the imagination of fans everywhere, and earned a place among the greatest monster trucks of all time.

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Bigfoot #1, with Jim Kramer. May 12, 2009
Bigfoot #1, with Jim Kramer. May 12, 2009 by BigfootFan (CC BY-SA)

Bigfoot

Bob Chandler is considered the godfather of monster trucks. In the late 1970s, Chandler painted his nickname "Bigfoot" on the side of his modified 1974 Ford F-250, which the bigger-better-badder-obsessed truck junkie and four-wheel-drive shop owner had souped-up with outsized axles and tires. 

Local promoters began paying Chandler to bring his attention-grabbing Bigfoot truck to their events, and in 1981, he invented a gimmick that would start an entertainment revolution and become the calling card of monster truck events forever. Chandler placed two beat-up junker cars in a field and ran them over with Bigfoot. A motorsports promoter saw a videotape of the feat and asked Chandler to perform the stunt again in front of a live audience. The monster truck era had begun and Bigfoot would go on to become the most famous and influential monster truck in history.

USA-1
Source: usa14x4inc/faceook.com

USA-1

In the summer of 1979, before his car-crushing stunt launched a new automotive genre, Chandler met a fellow shop owner and super-sized truck enthusiast named Everett Jasmer, a former drag racer. Like Chandler, Jasmer had outfitted his truck — a 1970 Chevy K-10 — to cartoonishly gargantuan proportions in an effort to sell more aftermarket truck parts. Also like Chandler, Jasmer named his truck—it was called USA-1. The two become close friends and collaborators, and when Chandler got a request for Bigfoot to appear in a 1981 movie called "Take This Job and Shove It," Chandler brought Jasmer and USA-1 along with him to the movie set. 

The movie was a hit and the two trucks were now famous. USA-1 and Bigfoot would become the earliest and fiercest rivals in the new sport of monster truck racing, a term coined in the early 1980s by a promoter at an event at Detroit's Pontiac Silverdome, which drew 68,000 fans to the sensational new form of entertainment.

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Grave Digger
Grave Digger by Avery Studio (CC BY-SA)

Grave Digger

Known for its trademark ghoulish ghost-and-graveyard paint job, Grave Digger's lineage dates back to the dawn of the sport in 1983, when its engine first transitioned from small block to big block. Grave Digger is now actually a team of nine trucks that run in the Monster Jam series, the flagship of which is still driven by Grave Digger's original creator, Dennis Anderson. The truck was a pioneer and it serves as a link between today's professional, corporatized monster truck series and the wild and raucous arena events of the sport's earliest days. In 1986, Grave Digger defeated Bigfoot on national TV and in 1987, its 2,000-horsepower Rodeck engine was outlawed on the circuit. The legendary truck celebrated its 35th anniversary in 2017.

Predator truck
Predator truck by TheMonsterBlogger (CC BY-SA)

Predator

Predator was called Lone Eagle when owner, designer, and monster truck legend Allen Pezo built his first monster truck from a brand new 1984 Chevy Silverado. It did one thing and one thing only — run over cars. In 1988, Lone Eagle got a makeover, a new skill set, and a new name: Predator. Allen built several other trucks also called Predator throughout the '90s and early 2000s. They got lighter, faster, and tougher, and their color schemes changed over time, but one thing remained the same. No Predator truck could ever be confused with something else thanks to its panther body and eyes.

Towasaurus Wrex
MonsterTruckBattlegrounds/facebook.com

Towasaurus Wrex

With roots dating back to 1988, Towasaurus Wrex was designed as one of the only tow truck monster trucks in the entire sport. Built from a 1946 Chevy tow truck, the throwback tow is powered by a 428-cubic-inch engine. A fan favorite worldwide — Towasaurus could never be confused with another truck — the one-of-a-kind wheeled monster still performs in the United States and across the world.

Snake Bite
SnakeBiteMonsterTruck/facebook.com

Snake Bite

Snake Bite holds the distinction of being the world's first 3-D character monster truck. Making its debut in 1991, Snake Bite was designed by Team Bigfoot, which is odd considering it would go on to become one of Bigfoot's biggest rivals. The truck's serpentine identity — it sports giant fangs and a long, hissing, 3-D tongue — was originally created for marketing purposes to sell a new line of Mattel Hot Wheels. Its drivers became famous for assuming characters that matched the motif, like Vic Venom, Ricky Rattler, and, of course, Colt Cobra, whose real name is Gene Patterson. Patterson assumed full character as the truck's debut driver, sporting a matching racing mask and claiming to be from Cobra Creek, Colorado.

bulldozer
bulldozer by jeweledlion (CC BY-NC-ND)

Bulldozer

Bulldozer became famous for the massive, 3-D bull horns that protruded from its roof. If that sounds familiar, you know your monster trucks. Bulldozer started its journey to monster truck superstardom as a promotional truck when it was first created in 1997. As its star rose, however, Bulldozer moved into full-time competition. Bulldozer appeared in four Monster Jam World Finals in the early 2000s before retiring in 2009 as one of history's most exciting and beloved trucks. Actually, it never truly retired. Bulldozer — and its 3-D horns — was converted into El Toro Loco.

El Toro Loco - Des Moines
El Toro Loco - Des Moines by Jason Mrachina (CC BY-NC-ND)

El Toro Loco

The 5-ton raging bull known as El Toro Loco is instantly recognizable because, well, it's shaped like a raging bull — and it's bright orange. In 2001, the truck that would become El Toro Loco made its debut in Lafayette, Louisiana, dazzling crowds as one of the first trucks to compete with a 3-D body shell. It quickly became a fan favorite and in 2003, it raced in its first-ever Monster Jam World Finals. Its stable of drivers are some of the best in the world, and The Crazy Bull is now deep into its second decade of monster truck fame.

MONSTER JAM - Dallas'11
MONSTER JAM - Dallas'11 by Neuwieser (CC BY-SA)

Monster Mutt

If you're ever at a United States Hot Rod Association (USHRA) Monster Jam series event and you see a group of people wearing floppy-eared dog hats, those people are Monster Mutt fans. Standing 12 feet tall with 6-foot tires, Monster Mutt is unmistakable thanks to its 3-D canine tail and drooping dog ears. It debuted in 2003 and has competed in every single World Finals since. In the ensuing years, its spawned several spinoffs, including Monster Mutt Dalmation, Monster Mutt Junkyard Dog, and Monster Mutt Rottweiler.

MAXIMUM DESTRUCTION!!!
MAXIMUM DESTRUCTION!!! by Nathan Rupert (CC BY-NC-ND)

Maximum Destruction

Known by fans as Max-D, Maximum Destruction is officially classified as a "futuristic SUV" — and no other truck on the circuit looks quite like it. Its unmistakable features, which include the Max-D trademark orange-and-silver paint job, is not the only reason it stands out from the crowd. Max-D is widely considered the fastest truck in the entire sport. Even that, however, is not the only driving force behind Max-D's glory. Its daredevil driver Tom Meents has won six Monster Jam World Racing Championships and five Monster Jam World Freestyle Championships. No other driver has ever won both in the same year, and Meents pulled off that feat twice.

P6097106
P6097106 by Ben Robinson (CC BY-NC-ND)

Swamp Thing

Tony Dixon is the owner and driver of Swamp Thing and he remains one of the only European drivers ever to perform in a Monster Jam event. Weighing in at more than 6 tons and standing nearly 12 feet tall, the beast measures in at 19 feet long. Dixon came up with the name on a trip to the Florida Everglades, a remote, mysterious, dangerous, and most certainly swampy part of the state. Fittingly, it's known worldwide for its green alligator paint job.

Dragon
MonsterJam/facebook.com

Dragon

Appearing in competitions for only about five years, Dragon is one of the newer arrivals on the monster truck scene, but the green machine has quickly risen to fame as one of the most popular machines on the circuit. From the spikes that poke through its reptilian skin to its angled fins and long, curling tail, all of Dragon's features are made from custom, bolt-on parts. It's gone through several different incarnations, including Corvette Dragon, Red Dragon, and, most recently, Ice Dragon.