Local kids participating in Hazelwood’s DARE/Risk Watch Camp got a thrill when the world’s first “monster truck” ever built, known as the legendary BIGFOOT 4×4, rumbled down the entrance way to the Hazelwood Community Center for them to see up-close. It didn’t crush any cars which is a stunt its famous for doing at hundreds of monster truck and tractor pull shows across the country, but it stayed still long enough for them to get a group photo.
The City of Hazelwood has the distinction of being the home of BIGFOOT 4×4, which was originally created by Bob Chandler. The company he started, named Midwest Four Wheel Drive, outgrew its facility in Ferguson, Mo. To keep up with the changing competitive environment, Chandler’s ever-growing BIGFOOT team moved into a custom-built facility in Hazelwood in 1984 where it still operates today. During the 1980’s, a monster truck “arms war” took place involving a battle between owners to see who could build the biggest and baddest truck. At that time, BIGFOOT’s popularity on the live event circuit grew and the vehicle’s photo was splashed on the front cover of several national four-wheel drive magazines. The media coined the phrase “monster truck” to describe BIGFOOT 4×4 which featured military axles (complete with four-wheel steering), 48″ tall tires, and a souped-up 460 c.i. big block V8 engine.
BIGFOOT’s driver, Jim Kramer, who has the distinction of being the first “hired gun” behind the wheel of a monster truck, brought the vehicle over for the youngsters to see and shared some of BIGFOOT’s amazing 39-year history with them. Not only has BIGFOOT visited more than 26 countries around the globe and made appearances in seven Hollywood movies, but Chandler and his BIGFOOT team and trucks have appeared in literally hundreds of TV shows, from televised races to cartoons to documentaries.
Over the years, the BIGFOOT team has continued to pump out newer and more competitive BIGFOOT trucks to keep up with the public demand, and to stay ahead of the competition. BIGFOOT #5, #14 and #18 have all held or hold Guinness World Records, the most recent of which was #18’s astonishing long jump of 214’8″. In 2012, production of BIGFOOT #20 was completed, featuring the world’s first and only battery-powered monster truck. Recently, BIGFOOT was named one of the Top 5 Marketing Vehicles of all time, an honor shared by an elite few such as the U.S. Navy Blue Angels and the U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds.
Hazelwood D.A.R.E. campers also got a visit from the St. Louis County Tactical Operations (S.W.A.T. Team) van.