Have you ever seen a monster truck? Unlike the cars and trucks most of us see on the streets every day, monster trucks are larger than life and can do some incredible things.

Monster trucks got their start in the late 1970s and early 1980s. People who liked to drive off-road for fun and adventure began modifying their trucks. They added bigger tires and more sturdy suspensions, so that their trucks could drive over rough terrain and obstacles, like big rocks and creeks.

One of the first monster trucks was created by a man named Bob Chandler. His modified Ford F250 became known as “Bigfoot.” Chandler would often take Bigfoot to truck shows and auto exhibitions, so that others could see the off-road modifications he had made.

One fateful day in April 1981, Chandler decided to do something kind of crazy just to see if he could do it. In an empty cornfield in rural Missouri, Chandler drove Bigfoot over two old junk cars parked side by side.

A friend caught Bigfoot’s first car crush on video and the rest, as they say, is history. An event promoter saw the video and asked Chandler to repeat the car crush in front of a crowd at a local auto show. Before long, car-crushing monster trucks were being built all over the country.

Bob George, an owner of a motorsport promotion company, called Bigfoot a “monster truck” and the name stuck. Today, all trucks with oversized tires, large engines and heavy-duty suspensions are known as monster trucks.

At first, Bigfoot and other monster trucks had 48-inch (diameter) tires. These tires were about three times larger than the tires used on most trucks. Eventually, though, even those tires weren’t big enough.

Today, monster truck tires are 66 inches in diameter! These tires — known as “Terra” tires — are also used on large farm equipment, such as fertilizer spreaders. Monster trucks have more than just monstrous tires, though.

Monster trucks feature hydraulic steering in both the front and the rear. This means that the driver can steer both the front wheels and the back wheels at the same time. This is necessary so that the huge tires on monster trucks can still make tight turns.

Monster trucks look like trucks (mostly). Early monster trucks were “regular” trucks that had been heavily modified. Most modern monster trucks, however, are specially-built from the ground up.

Monster truck builders use custom tubular frames, powerful supercharged engines and military-grade suspensions to create their powerful machines. Most still use a lightweight fiberglass “body” placed over the frame to make their creations resemble a truck.

Since driving monster trucks can be dangerous, the trucks have many safety features, including three different kill switches that allow the truck to be shut off remotely in case of a rollover or fire. Drivers also have to wear fireproof suits, safety harnesses, helmets and head and neck restraints.

Today, Monster Jam is a well-known monster truck event promoter that hosts events throughout the United States, Canada and parts of Europe. A typical show features car crushing, one-on-one races and a “freestyle” event. During the freestyle event, drivers get to show off their monster trucks doing a wild variety of tricks and stunts, such as donuts, wheel stands and jumps.


63 Join the Discussion

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  1. Hi, I am Jillian from Mrs. Caplin’s class. I thought this wonder was spectacular! I loved the video and I did not know that some monster trucks today have 66 diameter tires. That’s HUGE! I also noticed while I was reading that you guys used the word supercharged. I learned that words meaning and learned about many more words that start with super in school. When I told my brother about this monster truck article he wanted to read it after me. And to answer your question, yes, monster trucks are pretty scary. I learned they got started out in the late 1970’s, and have many safety features I was not aware of. I really enjoyed this wonder! Have a happy new year!

    • Thanks for wishing us a happy New Year, Jillian! We liked hearing all the great facts you learned about monster trucks by exploring this Wonder! :-)

    • What a SUPER guess, Mrs. Underwood’s Class! We can’t wait to visit tomorrow’s Wonder so we can see if you were right! Thank you for visiting Wonderopolis today and leaving us this WONDERful comment! :-)

    • Hello, Grant! We’re super sorry you didn’t care for today’s Wonder of the Day®…thanks for letting us know! We hope you’ll come back tomorrow and give learning in Wonderopolis another try! We also encourage you to explore some of our past Wonders…we have over 450 of them! :-)

  2. Good morning, wonderopolis! I like monster trucks. I saw one on my street, it was huge and I went to a monster truck jam before it was cool, there was a robot that shot cannons.

    • Hello, Dominque! Thanks so much for leaving us a comment today! We bet going to a monster truck show was AWESOME! We think it is great that you shared your personal connection to this Wonder by telling us the cool things that happened there! :-)

  3. Monster trucks are cool. My favorite is Mater! Mater is a fighting truck. Monster trucks are trucks that crush cars, and monster trucks are dirt trucks and they drive in dirt.

    • You sure know a lot of great things about monster trucks, Josh! Thanks for helping everyone WONDER a little more about them with your informative comment! :-)

  4. January 3, 2012
    Dear Wonderoplios,
    Hello, how are you today? I am fine! I told you I would post on today’s WONDER!

    My mom and I are still working on those letters! We just wanted to know how many people are working at Wonderoplios, just in case!

    My monster truck will be pink, and have girly stuff on it! I will e-mail you guys a picture but, just one problem. I DON’T KNOW WONDEROPLIOS’ E-MAIL!!!

    I think that tomorrow’s WOTD is going to be about Martin Luther King Day!

    P.S Maybe if I go to a tire store, they might have an actual monster truck tire!!!
    :D :)

    • We’re glad you left us another super comment, Leilani! We were looking for it today! Please let us know if you get to see a monster truck tire at a tire store…they are REALLY, REALLY BIG! Here is our email address: hello@wonderopolis.org. Thank you for being a WONDERful Wonder Friend! :-)

  5. I learned that monster trucks tires are taller then Ms. Workman, that’s how tall one is on a monster truck.

    • Those huge tires are certainly MONSTROUS, aren’t they, Ronald? We’d like to see one up close just to compare how tall we are standing next to it! Thank you for leaving us this awesome comment today! :-)


    • We think you must be super brave if you’re not afraid of anything, Tomiya! Way to go! We really appreciate your comment! :-)

  7. Monster trucks can be very expensive….it can cost $120,000 or more a year to have a truck. Also, the truck can weigh as much as 2 elephants and is about 12 feet long. You would need a big garage for that.
    There is a Monster truck shop in North Carolina, at the coast. Digger’s Dungeon, located in Poplar Branch, North Carolina. It is the official home of the Grave Digger.

    • We agree that you would need a SUPER BIG garage for a monster truck, Neil! Thank you so much for sharing what you know about these beastly vehicles…you added some more WONDER to this Wonder! We think it would be really neat to visit Digger’s Dungeon! :-)

    • We think a massive red truck with monsters on it would be SO COOL, Noah! Thank you for visiting this Wonder of the Day® and for sharing what your truck would look like if you could design one! :-)

  8. Hmmm. This wonder of the day was a “monster” success for all of us, even the girls. I think we want to draw our monster trucks and email them to you. We are so excited!!!

    Thank you Wonderopolis!

    • That would be really AWESOME, Mr. Fines! We can’t wait to see all the monster trucks you and your WONDERful students create! :-)

  9. Thanks for all the great facts about Monster Trucks! I’ve never seen them or been by one, but I’ve always liked them. Hope you have a wonderful New Year in January. Thanks! :)

    • We really hope YOU have a WONDERful New Year, as well, Madison! Thanks so much for leaving us this comment about monster trucks and for being an AWESOME Wonder Friend! :-)

  10. Dear Wonderopolis,
    Monster trucks aren’t scary. That is just in their name. But, they are really cool. I agree with Mrs. Underwood’s class about tomorrow’s wonder. Why people have special talents.

    • We’ve had a lot of Wonder Friends try to guess what the next Wonder will be, Rebecca! Thank YOU for being one of them! We’ll all have to visit Wonderopolis tomorrow to see who’s guess was closest! :-)

    • Thanks for letting us know you thought this monster truck Wonder was cool, Nassir! We are glad you stopped by Wonderopolis today! :-)

  11. I always loved monster trucks, especially the monster jam. Now that I’ve read this, the monster truck “Big Foot” is now my favorite. No wonder why it looks so old and rusty more than the others.

    • We think you’re GREAT for sharing your favorite monster truck with everyone in Wonderopolis, Jeffrey! Thank you for being a Wonder Friend and for leaving us this comment! :-)

    • Woo, hoo! We’re really happy to hear that, Mary! Wonderopolis is a GREAT place to spend extra time. We like to visit past Wonders, too! Learning is FUN and makes us all smarter! Thank you for being a GREAT Wonder Friend! :-)

    • Thanks so much for sharing your personal connection to this Wonder, Paul! We bet hearing all the loud truck sounds and seeing those huge vehicles running over things in the arena could be pretty scary for a three-year-old! We’re so glad you stopped by this Wonder of the Day® today! :-)

  12. I think monster trucks are cool and that’s why I am commenting on this. I love wonderopolis because if you wonder, they will answer them…every year my dad takes me and my brother to monster truck shows, we go to the monster truck jam its pretty cool, and I have always liked how big they are. I like grave digger, he is awesome. Well, thanks wonderopolis for being here to help us, goodbye…………!

    • We think it’s SO COOL that your family goes to monster truck shows together, Macy! What an awesome way to build memories AND get to see some really BIG trucks, too! Thank you for sharing your personal connection to this Wonder of the Day®! :-)

    • Pretty cool, isn’t it, Cole! Thank you for being a great Wonder Friend and leaving us this comment to let us know you visited this Wonder about monster trucks! :-)

  13. YES, the first monster truck, a FORD F250, 460 engine. The truck was also used in a movie filmed in Dubuque, Ia. in the 80s! I was lucky and saw the truck at the Davenport, Ia. Fair Grounds. One awesome Truck and I feel that being built in its stock form made it the the best Monster truck first and ever built. Thanks, take care everyone. Pete

    • Thanks so much for sharing your personal connection to this Wonder of the Day® about monster trucks, Pete! We really appreciate your comment and think it is SO COOL that you got to see the first monster truck! :-)

    • That was really cool, wasn’t it, Blake? We’re SO GLAD you stopped by this Wonder! We hope you had FUN learning about monster trucks! :-)

    • Hi there, Logan M! We are glad you enjoyed our monster truck Wonder– many people might think they are scary because of their size, and their name, but we learned that they are pretty cool! Thanks for sharing your comment! :)

    • We’re so happy to hear this Wonder was right up your alley, Skyla! Thanks for sharing your awesome comment with us! We Wonder if you have seen a monster truck in person? We can’t believe how large they are! :)

    • Thanks for sharing your comments, Wonder Friends Tyler and Rafe! We are glad both of you love monster trucks so much! What a great Wonder! We can’t wait to see you soon– happy WONDERing! :)

  14. I love monster trucks because they are awesome I like Bigfoot because it was the first invented. What is your favorite monster truck?

    • Hey there, Jaden! Thanks for sharing your comment and telling us all about your favorite monster truck! That’s a tough question for us to answer, because we like monster trucks of all kinds, but Bigfoot is one of our favorites! :)

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Have you ever wondered…

  • Are monster trucks scary?
  • What monster truck was the first to crush cars?
  • How big are the tires on a monster truck?

Wonder Gallery

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Try It Out

Ready to design your own monster truck? No, you don’t have to be a mechanic or an automobile engineer. You just need your imagination and a little creativity.

What would you name your monster truck? How big would it be? What fantastic tricks and stunts could it do?

Draw a picture of your monster truck. Be sure to include its name and some pictures that bring that name to life. When you’re finished, be sure to email us a copy or post it on Facebook. We can’t wait to see your monster truck!


Still Wondering

In the Trade and Transportation in the United States lesson from National Graphic Xpeditions, children imagine what it would be like to operate a plane, train or truck along a trade route across the United States.


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