On this day Chandler is in his office at Bigfoot 4 x 4 in Hazelwood, Mo., where 40 employees tend to all things Bigfoot. He has just returned from Los Angeles, where he allowed Jay Leno to drive Bigfoot over some crush cars for a taped Tonight Show segment. "I was impressed," says Chandler. "Jay is quite a gearhead."
"I loved that," Leno said on the air. "It's great smashing stuff."
Bigfoot has also popped up in a litany of astonishingly bad films: Take This Job and Shove It, two of the Police Academy movies, Roadhouse and Tango & Cash, in which Bigfoot's acting, critics agree, was less wooden than Sylvester Stallone's. After robbing a bank in the film Quick Change, Bill Murray demanded a getaway monster truck and was given Bigfoot.
Anyway, shortly after Chandler first monkeyed with a pickup, everyone along the Midwest Riviera was doing it. Drag racer Shafer built a monster in nearby Pontoon Beach, Ill. Appropriate, isn't it, that the first two monsters arose from towns flanking the Mississippi?
The Big Muddy.
"Look!" says a member of the USHRA technical crew, pointing to a petrified piece of filth on the tunnel ceiling while entering the Civic Arena on the first night of the two-night monster truck festivities. "A piece of mud from last year's shows!"
"Mud guys, over here!" shouts USHRA event director Bob DeWire, who then begins balefully calling the roll of the mud racers who have gathered here two hours before showtime. "Insanity? Psychotic Beast? Let's Boogie? Expect No Mercy? Mud Patrol? Devastation? S Kicker? S Kicker?!"
Mud racers, or mud boggers, as they're also known, race their fuel-injected dragsterlike vehicles against the clock through an 80-foot-long mud pit, the winner being the first to ruin my new jacket. At the finish line hell-bent mud racers doing 60-per have only 80 more feet to stop, lest they be accordioned into the hockey boards.
The Pittsburgh Penguins played a hockey game here last night, immediately after which a crew began its 12-hour task of constructing tonight's mud-and-monster track. Clip and save the recipe:
MUD-BOGGING TRACK MIX
Ingredients: 122 truckloads of dirt.
Directions: Spread the dirt evenly, 30 inches deep, in a pan the size of a hockey rink. Add 6,000 gallons of water. Stir.