(Hazelwood, Missouri – BIGFOOT PR) – It has been a long time since legendary BIGFOOT® driver and nine-time National Champion Dan Runte has been this excited about an upcoming racing season, and that is pretty impressive, considering that Runte has been at the forefront of Team BIGFOOT’s racing program for nearly two decades! But, in 2012, while Runte tries to win his TENTH championship, he will be piloting a brand-new BIGFOOT truck, and he can’t wait to get racing!
As frequent followers of the BIGFOOT team can attest, the last two seasons have been banner years for Runte. He posted a pair of top-shelf seasons in the Lucas Oil 4-Wheel Jamboree series, netting a runner-up in 2010 and a Championship in 2011. He also swept every single race for the last two years at Salt Lake City’s Maverik Clash of the Titans Figure-8 Invitational, appeared at numerous Firestone retailers, and won various other races around the country. And, next week, he will, again, make a trip to Germany to visit US military personnel with fellow Summit Racing drivers Jason Line and Greg Anderson.
So what exactly has Runte so excited about 2012? He will be driving the all-new BIGFOOT #18. 2012 will mark the first time since 1992 that Runte (or anyone on Team BIGFOOT) has stepped into a new, totally-redesigned BIGFOOT truck! BIGFOOT #18 will be on a totally new chassis and will include a new suspension design and a totally new style of monster truck body. And Runte is way past ready!
“Our current chassis’ have more than proven its worth,” said Runte. “But for this new truck, we wanted and needed to try some new things that our current setup won’t quite let us get away with. I think it will take a little bit of time to get dialed in and it’s going to take me a while to get used to it, but I’m so ready it’s not even funny. This thing’s gonna be an animal.”
The completion of BIGFOOT #18 will mark the culmination of almost a year’s worth of designing, fabrication, and planning. BIGFOOT VP of Sponsorships & Business Development Bob Trent started the whole project late last year when he pointed out that BIGFOOT had been standing still too long with the use of the same chassis for so many years. He then came up with some really different ideas, including a new chassis and a new body style.
“We came to a crossroads last year where it was like ‘Do we keep modifying what we have, or do we start from scratch?’ The chassis design we have used up to now has been one of the most resilient the industry has ever seen, but we hit the point where we needed a clean slate to try some of the new ideas we had.”
Trent went on to explain that “Bryan Bertoletti, our lead mechanic and fabricator, helped make sure the design I found would give us the flexibility to do what we wanted, while still allowing us the ability to add to our fleet in a cost-effective and timely manner. We are just too busy maintaining our current fleet to start something completely from scratch.”
Bertoletti went on to explain: “The chassis design we currently rely on has served us very well since we developed the first one years ago (for BIGFOOT #10), since then we’ve refined that design significantly. Even with all the curve balls we face from tracks, etc., our trucks have consistently met the challenge. But we needed to move forward. We wanted a lower center of gravity, additional reinforcement in various places, and a longer wheelbase.”
BIGFOOT #18 will feature close to 4 ½ inches of additional shock travel in the front, improved driveline restraint systems, nearly 6 inches of additional wheelbase, improved shock mounting angles, and a mass of additional steel tubing in critical areas, all of which will allow the truck to better sustain the abuses it is expected to encounter in its first season of competition. All of this will be topped off with a radical new truck body that can only be described as “extreme.”
Runte is tentatively scheduled to debut his new ride at the Toughest Monster Truck Tour event in Southaven, MS (Memphis) during the second weekend of January, the first stop in his quest to capture the inaugural Toughest Monster Truck/Monster Nation dual-championship. The TMT/MN partnership is the first time the monster truck industry has ever seen two separate series’ combine points for a single title for racing and a single title for freestyle. Following the completion of the indoor tour in March, Runte will head outdoors in May to defend his Lucas Oil 4-Wheel Jamboree championship in Springfield, MO.
But, for now, Runte is just ready to get in his new truck! “I’m stoked about the New Year, but around here its best to take things one day at a time. We’ve got a lot of testing to do with this new truck before we try to win races with it. But I’m pretty optimistic about how testing is going to go, and once we’ve got that under our belt it’s going to be GAME ON. The guys here are ready to see what this thing can do, and so are the fans. They’ve been waiting pretty patiently,” said Runte.
Perhaps Runte summed it best during a break in construction while talking to one of the team’s other drivers: “I’m ready to go hit something big with this thing!”
BIGFOOT would like to thank everyone for their efforts on this project, with a special “THANKS” to Jim Kramer, John Peterson, Chris Ludwig, Nick Dvorchak, and Bob Brown!
For more information on the new BIGFOOT #18 and the rest of the team, check out www.BIGFOOT4x4.com!
(Photos & Video courtesy BIGFOOT 4×4)