The monster truck industry has changed over the course of its nearly 40-year history. What started out as just souped-up trucks racing has turned into a multimillion dollar industry.
Today, monster truck bodies sit on top of 66-inch-tall tires. Those tires also are 43-inches wide and ride on a 25-inch rim. Not to mention that a tire weighs anywhere from 700 to 1,000 pounds.
It’s also a form of family entertainment.
“The best thing is to see children’s faces light up when they see how big the trucks are,” Dan Runte says. “There’s nothing like seeing a monster truck in person. They are so massive and interesting to see.”
Runte feels like he is constantly wearing a target on his back, though. That assumption is right because he is the driver of Bigfoot, one of the most recognized monster trucks in the industry.
|The Toughest Monster Truck Tour
WHEN: 7:30 tonight and Saturday, Feb. 9
WHERE: Santa Ana Star Center, 3001 Civic Center Circle NE, Rio Rancho
HOW MUCH: $7.50-$22.25 at www.santaanastarcenter.com
Ear plugs are recommended for children.
“It’s always been an honor to be associated with Bigfoot,” he says during a phone interview from Ohio. “And yes, as the driver for so many years, I do feel the pressure to keep up my game because everyone is gunning for me.”
Runte started out working for Bob Chandler, who started Bigfoot in the mid-1970s, putting in nearly 24 years as a crew member. Eventually, Runte was able to take over the driving duties and become a pro.
“I’ve learned so much in this job that I’m able to share my knowledge with the team,” he says. “There are little tricks that you learn along the way that are very valuable. It’s always a learning environment.”
While the drivers are stars in their own right, Runte admits that the trucks are the true stars of the show. He says the sport has only grown over the years.
“It’s a tradition that has been passed down for a couple generations,” he says. “We have kids coming in with their parents and grandparents. We’re about three generations deep with this sport now and it continues to grow.”
Runte says during monster truck events there is ample time for audience members to come down to the pit before and after the show. This element is the most rewarding because he can meet the people who make his job possible.
“It’s our way of giving back to the community that supports us,” he says. “I’ve all been doing this for so long, that it’s still one of the best things about this job.”