Co-sponsored by the Hazelwood Police Department and Hazelwood Fire Department, the Hazelwood D.A.R.E./Risk Watch Camp is a three-week program that offers both drug resistance and safety classes. In addition, guest speakers from many different occupations and agencies are invited to give presentations to the campers. Other planned activities include arts and crafts, sports, swimming, self-defense classes and much more.
During his presentation, Kramer told the campers that the name “BIGFOOT” was initially given to the company owner, Bob Chandler, who owned a Ford F-250 4×4 pickup truck back in the mid-1970s. He would go on some fun off-road weekend trips with Chandler. But Chandler always seemed to find ways to break his truck. That’s when they started calling him “BIGFOOT” because his heavy foot on the gas pedal often caused his breakage problems.
Since Chandler found ways to break the toughest of trucks, he discovered there wasn’t a place in the Midwest to get 4×4 parts and service. Recognizing a potential market, Bob Chandler, Marilyn Chandler and Jim Kramer started the Midwest Four Wheel Drive and Performance Center.
“We used Chandler’s 4×4 as a work truck, in addition to making it a promotional tool for the business,” said Kramer. “We tried out new parts on the truck, and kept making it bigger and better in order to stay ahead of the competition. Soon the truck itself became an attraction and that’s when we branded it as the original BIGFOOT® monster truck. Our first paid event for BIGFOOT was a Denver car show in 1979.”
Another interesting fact learned by the campers was that BIGFOOT crushed its first cars in the soybean fields of Teson’s Farm, just down the street from the Hazelwood Community Center. In 1981, Chandler wanted to see if he could drive BIGFOOT over some junk cars just for fun. So he made arrangements with the owner of Teson’s Farm to do it on his property. The rest is history. He later duplicated this stunt in a stadium show, which fueled an explosion of fan interest and led to a legion of imitators. Over the past 29 years, a total of 16 BIGFOOT monster trucks have been produced by this Hazelwood-based business.