The truck's first attention-grabbing modification came when Chandler got wind of an idea proposed to the U.S. Army of making steering capable on both axles of their four-wheeled vehicles, so that in the event of breakage in the front axle, it could simply be switched with the rear axle and held straight with a pin so that the vehicle could resume regular use with steering. Chandler decided to test that theory on his truck, but in addition would actually enable steering on the rear axle. The end result was a new innovation in automotive technology — the "4x4x4," or a vehicle with four wheels, four-wheel-drive, and four-wheel-steering.
In 1979, Chandler started making appearances at truck and tractor pulls, as well as car shows, with his newly christened "Bigfoot" to show off the truck's capabilities as well as to promote his shop. The truck's growing popularity led to its appearance in the 1981 Gus Trikonis film "Take This Job and Shove It."
While these accomplishments were certainly admirable, Chandler's next experiment would not only change the life and fortunes of a middle-class pickup owner from the St. Louis area, it would change the motorsports world forever. In 1981, Chandler obtained permission from a local farmer to place two dilapidated cars in his field, so that Chandler could videotape himself crushing the cars with Bigfoot as a joke. When Chandler began playing the video in his shop, a man promoting a motorsports event in Columbia, Missouri asked him to duplicate the stunt in front of a crowd. After initial hesitation because of the destructive image it would convey, Chandler eventually agreed to perform at the event in April of the following year in what is believed to be the first public car crush. Later that year, a second Bigfoot (built to help meet the steadily rising demand to see the vehicle) received more major media attention by crushing cars at the Pontiac Silverdome in Pontiac, Michigan. In 1983, Bigfoot began receiving sponsorship from Ford Motor Company a relationship which continued until December 22 2007 when an entry on the Bigfoot website announced that the sponsorship had ended.
By 1984, many truck owners around the country had taken to imitating Chandler's template of outfitting their vehicles with tires standing 66 inches tall, with some trucks sporting even larger tires. Promoters of truck and tractor pulls, such as SRO Motorsports (later the United States Hot Rod Association) and Golden State Promotions, noticed the exploding popularity of the giant trucks and began booking several to crush cars at their events, with the eventual result being the advent of side-by-side, drag-racing style car crushing events. A popular example of the early days of monster truck racing is portrayed in the 1986 home video release Return of the Monster Trucks, which involves a truck pull, car crushing, and mud bogging all in the same course. That event, held in the Louisiana Superdome, was won by Bigfoot, as well as most of the events it was entered into in the mid 1980s. By this point, Chandler had already built an entire fleet of "Bigfoot" trucks to accommodate the vast demand for his vehicle, which remained as the most popular and marketable monster truck despite the large number of imitators. In 1987, Chandler added to his innovations by founding the Monster Truck Racing Association, which remains today as the chief voice in monster truck safety.
Another form of competition Chandler faced was the physical size of the competition. Many truck owners had taken to calling their vehicles the "World's Largest Monster Truck," so Chandler outfitted his "Bigfoot 4" vehicle with 10-foot-tall tires he had purchased from a junkyard owner in Seattle, Washington for only $1000. The tires had been previously used by an Arctic snow train in Alaska by the U.S. Army in the 1950s. In 1986, Chandler built a new truck, "Bigfoot 5", specifically for the tires. Upon its public debut in Indianapolis, Indiana, the truck immediately took the title of "World's Tallest, Widest, and Heaviest Monster Truck" and was eventually given official recognition of the title by the Guinness Book of Records in 2002. With a second set of 10-foot-tall tires attached, the truck stands 15 feet, six inches, measures 20 feet, 5 inches across, and weighs over 38,000 pounds.
During this time, Chandler began working with computer-aided design (CAD) programs, and using technology he had learned from professional off-road racing, designed a tubular frame for his next Bigfoot truck, along with a suspension system sporting two feet of travel. This innovation allowed Bigfoot to possess four times as much suspension travel as those used by nearly all previous monster trucks. Chandler would be awarded a patent for his designs. After testing the vehicle for three months, driver Andy Brass debuted the eighth incarnation of Bigfoot, with the new frame and suspension, in late 1989. It officially made its debut at the Indiana State Fairgrounds in Indianapolis, Indiana at the Four Wheel and Off Road Jamboree in a special 5,000th show for Bigfoot (where every Bigfoot vehicle gathered in one place for the first time). It made its debut in competition at a USHRA race in the Astrodome in Houston, Texas, reaching the final round of competition before rolling over against Jack Willman's Taurus.
The following year, after running the USHRA races in Anaheim, California, and Pontiac, Michigan, the truck would debut on the TNT Motorsports Monster Truck Challenge points circuit in Memphis, Tennessee, and would find the Bigfoot 8# chassis briefly banned from the circuit on April 5th, 1990, due to a rule clarification that only allowed leaf, coil, and coilover suspensions to be run (Bigfoot #8 ran nitrogen shocks). Although TNT stated that safety was the primary reason for the clarification, they also admitted that another reason was that Bigfoot #8 was simply too technologically advanced and was upsetting the competitive balance of the series. Former BMX racer John Piant, piloting "Bigfoot #4" raced in place of #8 from Dallas, Texas to Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. Andy Brass did drive Bigfoot #4 to victory at the Louisville Motor Speedway. Bigfoot #8 returned to the TNT circuit after the temporary ban had been lifted. Chandler also took legal action against TNT.
Team Bigfoot ended up winning 24 events that season and took the 1990 TNT points championship over Greg Holbrook in Gary Cook's Equalizer and Gary Porter's Carolina Crusher, the first racing championship for the Bigfoot team. Also that year, Piant took the Special Events Triple Crown Championship, in addition to placing third in the USHRA's new point series. After not winning any championships in 1991, Team Bigfoot would go on a 12-year stretch from 1992-2003 of winning at least one championship a year, taking a total of 16 series championship victories during that span. The most notable of Team Bigfoot's recent series championship victories came in 2007, when Bigfoot #16 and driver Dan Runte won the first ever championship series held by the Major League of Monster Trucks. With that victory, Team Bigfoot now holds a total of 22 series championships.
As a token of appreciation for fathering a brand new form of motorsport that remains widely popular today, the Missouri Sports Hall of Fame inducted Chandler into their Class of 2006.
In May 2006, Bigfoot signed former professional wrestler and Live Nation driver Debra Miceli. Miceli drove the "Bigfoot 10" chassis until the end of the 2007 Major League of Monster Trucks (MLMT) season.
|Bigfoot 1||1975||-||In 1979, the '74 front clip was replaced with a '79 front clip that flipped forward to allow greater access to the engine. Mostly used as a display vehicle.|
|Bigfoot 2||1982||N/A||-||Modified in 1992 for the purpose of giving fans monster truck rides in the bed of the vehicle, and renamed Safarifoot. Sold in 2000 to an independent owner.|
|Bigfoot 3||1983||N/A||-||Received same ride-truck modifications as Bigfoot 2. Donated to E.M.T. Financial Fund in 2000. Currently owned by Steve Ford, who has renamed the truck Legendand uses it as an exhibition vehicle.|
|Bigfoot 4||1984||N/A||-||Used as a display truck before being sold in 2007.|
|Bigfoot 5||1986||-||Mostly used as a display vehicle at Bigfoot's headquarters in Hazelwood. The original 1979 body was removed in 1989 and a current year was put in its place. The old body was placed on a waiting frame and used as a shop truck at the Bigfoot shop. The original body is now privately owned by Eli Mann and is being restored.|
|Bigfoot 6||1986||N/A||-||Sold to a British promoter after a tour of Thailand in 1994.|
|Bigfoot 7||1988||N/A||-||Modified in 1995 to accommodate 10-foot-tall tires. The motor, transmission and steering were removed and the truck was sold to Race Rock Orlando. After the restaurant went out of business, it was sold to Fun Spot USA in Kissimmee, Florida, where it currently resides..|
|Bigfoot 8||1989||Scott Winger||Used as a display truck and as a race truck if another cannot attend a scheduled date.|
|Bigfoot 9||1990||N/A||-||See above section.|
|Bigfoot 10||1992||Rodney Tweedy||Active race truck.|
|Bigfoot 11||1993||Jerry Dalton||Active race truck.|
|Bigfoot 12||1993||Ron Bachman||Built specifically as a display truck.|
|Bigfoot 14||1993||Keith Sturgeon||Active race truck.|
|Bigfoot 15||1994||Rick Long||Active race truck.|
|Bigfoot 16||2007||Dan Runte||Active race truck.|
|Bigfoot 17||2003||Nigel Morris||Active race truck, competing exclusively in Europe.|
|Ms. Bigfoot||1985||-||Name later changed to "Bigfoot Ranger." Sold in 1993.|
|Bigfoot Shuttle||1985||-||Sold in 2002 to Jeff Halliday a vice president at the official monster truck hall of fame.|
|Bigfoot Fastrax||1987||-||Mostly used as a display vehicle at Bigfoot's headquarters in Hazelwood.|
|Unnumbered Bigfoot||1999||-||Built specifically for permanent display at Race Rock restaurant in Las Vegas, Nevada. It was made to resemble 5 and 7. After the restaurant went out of business, it was sold to the Historic Auto Attractions museum in Roscoe, Illinois, where it currently resides.|
|Bigfoot 18||-||-||Under construction in the United Kingdom.|
|Bigfoot 19||-||-||Under construction at the BIGFOOT shop in Hazelwood, Missouri. Will be a display truck when completed.|