Search

Monster Mash

Aug. 25, 2003
Aug. 25, 2003

Table of Contents
Aug. 25, 2003

College Football
Departments

Monster Mash

I had six cars in front of me the other day. Not one of them
moving. And I was running out of time. So ... I just ran right
over them.

This is an article from the Aug. 25, 2003 issue Original Layout

Up their trunks, over their roofs and down their hoods. Smooshed
them. Left them flatter than Kate Moss holding a three-day-old
beer.

Enjoyed it so much I turned around and did it again, cackling
like Vincent Price.

Was I jailed for that? Arrested? Even tsk-tsked? No. I was
praised, slapped on the back and offered a pinch of Copenhagen.

That's because I was not on the street. I was in an arena. And I
wasn't driving my car. I was driving a five-ton,
1,400-horsepower, 10-foot-tall, eardrum-ruining, groin-tingling
Bigfoot, the mother of all monster trucks.

You may think only those married to their cousins feel this way,
but I'm a monster fan of monster trucks. I own Bigfoot videos,
including ones that show a Bigfoot purposely crashing through a
Winnebago, a Bigfoot crushing an entire new-car showroom, two
Bigfoots pulling a 1979 Chrysler K-car from each end until it
rips in half. Honestly, can you have more fun without using some
form of lard?

Before a recent monster-truck show, I got a shot at crushing cars
with one of the five Bigfoots competing around the country. My
instructor was the immortal Bigfoot driver Dan Runte--a small man
with monster marbles, a man who once jumped a Bigfoot over a 727.
He missed the plane by a good 94 feet, which is better than some
airline pilots have done.

Dan showed me the 66-inch-tall tires (they're two inches taller
than Ian Woosnam!), the plexiglass floor (you can see what you're
crushing!) and, in case anything went wrong, the remote engine
kill switch that he would hold at the ready while I drove ("works
up to three quarters of a mile!" Dan said proudly).

As a man with two teenage sons, I can see how such a device could
come in very handy.

Older teenage son: All right, you gun it while I lie on the roof
of the car firing bottle rockets outta my butt!

Younger teenage son: Hey, it won't start!

Other oddities included the steering wheel located in the center
of the cab, no doors (you climb into the cab through the chassis)
and no rearview mirror. Bigfoot never looks back!

I asked Dan if he'd ever crushed something he wasn't supposed to.
"Well," he said, kicking the dirt, "it's just that the crowd
really likes carnage. So, one time, I ran over a storage shed
full of popcorn. Hell, I've crushed cars I woulda liked to drive
home!" What would you give for one day with a Bigfoot inside a
Wal-Mart?

After exhaustive safety instruction that lasted 10 minutes, Dan
turned me loose with one of the most destructive vehicles on
earth. And no insurance forms to sign! The arena was set up for
the show: two dirt ramps facing each other with six beat-up cars
set door-handle-to-door-handle between them. I flipped the toggle
ignition. Over the engine noise and the chattering of my teeth,
Dan yelled in my ear, "Now, 'member, if you flip, undo your chest
belt first, otherwise you'll hang yourself! O.K., have fun!"

Thanks!

Suddenly wishing I was back home watching my videos, I nervously
lined up Bigfoot in front of one of the ramps. I swallowed hard,
jammed it into first and took off. I must've been going 75 mph
when I went flying up the ramp and landed on top of those poor
cars. Thrown around in the cab like a loose St. Christopher
statue, I forgot to look down through the plexiglass to see the
carnage. Damn!

Still, it was glorious. Dan climbed up into the cab and said,
"Good! I think you almost got it to 15 [mph]. Try it one more
time, only gun it!"

Cocky now, I lined up again and floored it. Bigfoot jumped from
under me like a goosed Clydesdale. I went sailing off the ramp,
didn't touch down until my front tires hit the fourth car (a
three-car improvement) and became terrified that I was going to
flip over forward. Then, just as suddenly, Bigfoot rocked back,
and when the rear tires landed, the front flew straight up again.
Luckily, I was looking down through the plexiglass when the truck
cleaved the bejesus out of a 1981 Bonneville's hood.

Only problem was, I hadn't taken my big foot off Bigfoot's
accelerator. I was heading straight for the arena wall. Luckily,
my cat-quick professional driver instincts stopped the truck just
in time. Well, that and Dan's throwing the kill switch.

He climbed in again and with a huge grin said, "I think you
almost got it to 20 [mph] that time!"

After the show--Dan won the competition on points, as usual--I
went to the pits to savor those last sweet smells of burnt
methanol. The 66-inch tires were yanked off Bigfoot and replaced
with normal-sized tires so the truck could fit back inside a
trailer. It was deflating, like going backstage and seeing Dolly
Parton removing falsies.

Still, as Bigfoot's trailer drove off, I said what was in my
heart: "Next time, the Yankee Stadium parking lot!"

If you have a comment for Rick Reilly, send it to
reilly@siletters.com.

B/W PHOTO: JEFFERY A. SALTER
Dan turned me loose with one of the most destructive vehicles on
earth. And no insurance forms to sign!