The 2014 calendar year has officially begun. The confetti has fallen, the champagne has been sipped, and the late night festivities have ended. But for some sports, especially some motorsports, work has just begun for the new season. Testing, tuning, and changes make up the beginning of the new year.
In some cases, the season starts a lot earlier than most.
The first quarter of monster truck action is set to kick off this weekend, with many venues ready to host thousands of fans across the country. Although one promoter will have the most events, the one team that is looking forward to the upcoming year is based in Hazelwood, Missouri.
The Bigfoot team, the original monster truck team, have their entire fleet of race trucks ready to go after not just one, but three championships through the first three months of action.
It's not an impossible task, but one that will be a challenge against other top competitors. Here's a glimpse at all the Team Bigfoot drivers and their quests for championships:
Larry Swim-Monster Truck Mafia Bigfoot #19: Without question, the driver that pushes his truck to the limit the most on this team is the one that originated the "Bad Boy" image for the team. Larry Swim has been a great asset to the team, not to mention he's the driver of the newest race vehicle in the fleet. Swim began piloting Bigfoot's first full-time Chevrolet truck in late 2012, sponsored by Speed Energy.
For this year, his truck got a slight makeover into one as part of another group of drivers that push the limits, but do it for the fans. The Monster Truck Mafia has a slew of top drivers, including Bill Payne, Devin Jones and Donald Epidendio. Now, Swim is joining that camp with his all-new Monster Truck Mafia-designed Bigfoot.
This Ford-powered and Ford-bodied off road beast is set to compete on the Monster X Tour, hoping to bring home another title. Swim will start his season in Fresno, California.
Dan Runte-Summit Racing Bigfoot #18: Although Swim may have the newest truck in the fleet, there is no doubt that the driver that still leads the pack in Bigfoot's group is Dan Runte. A multi-time champion, and former world record holder, he's consistently pushing the limits of what he can do in his truck.
Ever since he took over the seat in the Summit Racing #18 truck, he has become a different driver. The first long-wheelbase, low center-of-gravity chassis, and first off-road bodied monster truck has shown to be a very tough one to beat. So much so, in it's first two years of competition, Runte has took home back-to-back Monster Nation championships.
This year, he's going after a third, and there's a chance he could do it both in #18, and also the newer truck being built in-house at Bigfoot, #21, which will also be a Concussion truck.
In either case, Runte is poised to go after yet another indoor championship in what many still consider the most radical Bigfoot ever built. Runte kicks off his season in Southhaven, Mississippi.
Darron Schnell-ViCor Bigfoot Bessie #15: Sometimes when a driver and truck have an identity, it's hard to avoid it being popular. For Darron Schnell, when he became the driver for ViCor, his career took an entirely new direction, and one that fans have loved for two years.
Whether his truck had the standard F250 body, or the baja style look, "Bigfoot Bessie" has become an incredibly popular identity for Schnell, and it's one he's looking forward to extending into 2014.
Schnell is also competing on the Monster X Tour, along with Swim. It will be difficult to top the hard-charging ability of Swim, but Schnell has proved he is more than capable of pushing his own limits, as was seen a few times in 2013. Watch for him to once again turn "Bessie" into a mad cow, starting off in Lake Charles, Louisiana.
Eric Tack-Lucas Oil Bigfoot #14: Sometimes it is a good thing to have a former champion, and partially retired driver, to still be loyal to the team. Bigfoot has always called upon former ProMT and multi-time champion Eric Tack to hop in a Bigfoot truck when needed. He drove the truck when Bigfoot returned to the Pontiac Silverdome, and also substituted for Larry Swim while he was still recovering from injury two years ago.
Now, for the first time in many years, Tack will have a full first-quarter schedule to compete in front of fans.
Tack is taking over, at least for the first part of the year, the all-new Lucas Oil Bigfoot, as the leading automotive additive company returns to the team with Bigfoot coming back to the Monster Nationals tour. This gives the competition a big boost, meaning drivers like Mark Hall, plus both Dan and Allison Patrick, will not have an easy time winning the championship.
Tack has shown that no matter when he gets back in a Bigfoot truck, he certainly can win, and win often. This year will be no exception, as his season will begin in Sioux City, Iowa.
Kevin Koszala-Odyssey Battery Bigfoot #11: One of the newer drivers for Bigfoot last year was one that has a lot of experience in the industry, and quickly showed he's very capable of being behind the wheel of the leader in monster trucks.
Koszala took over driving duties of what many call the "workhorse" truck in the fleet, Bigfoot #11, a truck that has seen championships and records in it's day, and still can compete with the top teams. Koszala continues that this season, also competing on the Monster X Tour with Swim and Schnell.
The truck may be over 20 years old, but it still gets the job done against trucks that are still very new. Koszala will start his 2014 season in Augusta, Georgia.
J.R. Adams-Firestone Bigfoot #10: After sitting out part of last year and finally getting behind the wheel for the first time in mid-summer, Bigfoot's newest driver takes to the grueling first quarter for the first time. J.R. Adams proved that he can handle a Bigfoot truck with ease, even having his own identity with last year's extremely popular Bigfoot Nation "Graffiti Foot" design.
This year, he has the task of holding up the name of the team's longest-reigning sponsor, Firestone. It's a new look for him, but it's still the same truck. Bigfoot #10 is also a former champion, and is the longest-competing truck in the fleet, having debuted in 1992. After 22 years, the truck still handles like a new piece fresh off the line.
Adams hasn't shown any nervous feeling in competition, and that likely won't change in the first quarter. Adams will get his first taste of action on the Checkered Flag Promotions Tour beginning in Grand Island, Nebraska.
Rick Long-Aussie Bigfoot: The final truck competing this first quarter actually isn't even in the country. Debuting last year, the first full-time Australian Bigfoot made it's debut down under, with long-time driver Rick Long at the wheel.
Unlike it's U.S. brothers, the Aussie Bigfoot actually began life as America's Outback Thunda, which was driven by Clive Featherby. In fact, Featherby is partnered with the Bigfoot team to have the truck run all over Australia. This truck is a Patrick Enterprises piece, which the team has never used before, but has quickly become a very popular piece.
After touring last summer and fall, the Aussie Bigfoot and Long will begin their first quarter in Taranga, New Zealand.
For a complete schedule of when Bigfoot will be coming to a city near you, and info on all their trucks and drivers, visit Bigfoot4x4.com.