Everett Jasmer, One of Monster Trucks’ Founding Fathers
By Scott Bryant
| Today, the Monster Truck Industry is a multi-million dollar entertainment business. From the sold out venues to massive merchandise sales, Monster Trucks have long since become a part of main-stream American culture. Additionally, the interest in these incredible machines has begun to spread globally as Monster Truck shows are now occurring on most of the earth’s continents.
When you trace the history of this now huge Industry back to its origins, you learn that it, like many forms of motor sport, came from humble beginnings. Monster trucks, as we know them today, are largely due to the efforts of a few select individuals. One of those select individuals is Everett Jasmer.
Everett designed and built USA-1, one of the first generation of Monster Trucks. Like many other early Monsters, USA-1 was built as a promotional tool for Everett’s business, an off-road center that he founded in Spring Lake Park, Minnesota. Everett has always been an innovative thinker and has always been involved in racing, in some form or another. Everett got his start in motor sports very early on. Besides being a local street-rodder, Everett was running his own speed shop as well as driving and maintaining various drag cars, all by the age of eighteen. Everett’s introduction to racing was aided by Larry Joel, who approached him about building, maintaining, and driving his drag race cars in the late sixties. The two have remained friends ever since. In fact, Everett even worked with renowned NHRA Pro-Stock competitor Warren Johnson (Who is also a Minnesota native) as Warren was beginning his professional racing career. Everett met Warren in the early seventies when he and Larry had Warren build an engine for their race car. Everett went on to work with Warren in the mid-seventies, for a short period of time, and the two have remained friends since as well.
As Everett gained more and more experience and honed his fabrication and engine building skills, he decided to create a new business. He was savvy enough to notice that there was a market for off-road enthusiasts and realized that this was going to be the next big growth in the performance and aftermarket industry. Knowing this, Everett created his off-road business to tailor to this market, which seemed to be growing steadily and rapidly. Minnesota has some beautiful open country and more and more enthusiasts were learning how fun it was to explore parks and trails. Also there were many local off-road events starting to occur as well.
As mentioned before, Everett decided he needed a vehicle (pun intended) through which to promote his skills and his business. He looked no further than his trusty 1970 Chevy K-10. Everett decided to use this truck as the basis for his new project.
The truck had already become a local legend among mud racers. At a local off road event, the promoters had contracted an individual to bring a highly modified truck to the race to make exhibition runs through a huge mud pit they had mowed out of a nearby swamp. This, of course, was none other than Bob Chandler and his Bigfoot Monster Truck. However this was 1979 so Bigfoot was not nearly as “big” as we know it today. Back then it ran 46” tall tractor tires and 2.5 ton military axles as opposed to the 66” tall tires and planetary axles it uses today.
Having seen articles of Bigfoot in several magazines, Everett knew that Chandler was someone he wanted to meet in person if he ever got the chance. Everett attended the event for that very reason. After arriving at the race, Everett found Bob waiting to make Bigfoot’s exhibition run and introduced himself. The two immediately struck up a conversation and before long it was time for the exhibition. Interestingly enough, Bob began to coax Everett into making a mud run in his K-10. At this time the K-10 was running 38” tires and a healthy 350 engine with nitrous oxide injection, a stout combination but it wasn’t as big as Bob’s truck. Everett had obvious reservations about tackling the mud pit with a vehicle that he was going to need for the 150 mile trip back home. However, Bob actually convinced Everett to make the first attempt.
Everett lined up at the start and when he was signaled to go, he launched the truck immediately triggering the nitrous. Amazingly, even to his own disbelief, Everett made it through the pit. Bob followed with Bigfoot shortly after. Once on the opposite side of the bog, Chandler set about coaxing Everett to make yet another run through the pit back to the starting side. Of course now the pit had been churned into deep ruts left by Bigfoot’s 46” tall tractor tires. Everett was willing to give it a try though he didn’t think he would make it all the way through this time. He had been fortunate the first time through but he felt sure he would get caught up in the huge ruts that Chandler had left behind. Once again, Everett floored the throttle, hit the nitrous, and hoped for the best. And once again he made it through and was followed by Bob and Bigfoot. Everett had showed up hoping to simply meet Chandler and watch his truck in action, instead he ended up accomplishing the same feats with his street truck as the mighty Bigfoot.
However, the feats weren’t over. When Chandler decided to take on the mud pit in two wheel drive, instead of four wheel drive, he invited Everett to ride along. Unfortunately, with just two wheel drive, the Minnesota mud got the better of Bigfoot. In the heat of the moment, Everett jumped out, trudged through the mud back to where he had parked, drove around the pit, and hitched his truck to Bob’s from the other side. Once hooked together Everett’s K-10 managed to pull Bigfoot free of the pit. The event organizers were so impressed with Everett and the K-10’s performance they actually presented him with a plaque to “The Man Who Pulled out Bigfoot”. The plaque still hangs in Everett’s office.
From there the legend of Everett’s truck grew, and so did the truck. Everett eventually bought the 46” tractor tires that Bigfoot ran when Bob decided to step up to bigger ones. He fitted the K-10 with the tractor tires and that made it even more capable in the mud.
Later, Everett’s reputation and business would get another boost as Chandler helped get him included in the filming of the movie, “Take This Job and Shove It”. Those of you that have seen the movie are familiar with the truck race, in which Bigfoot steals the show. But if you look closely, you can see Everett’s K-10 on the starting line with the other trucks. And another little known fact is that the shots taken of the actors having dialogue in the cab of Bigfoot, were actually shot in Everett’s K-10. The supercharger and induction that protruded through Bigfoot’s hood interfered with the positioning of the camera. So Everett’s K-10 was used for the shots since it had a blue interior like Bigfoot. If you look closely, you can see the difference in the shots. By the way, the “Silver Bullet” truck, in the show, was Everett’s street truck used to tow the ’70 to the movie shoot.
When Everett decided to take the next step in “monstrous” growth, he decided he would do some things differently. Having learned a lot during early stages of the truck’s growth, Everett knew he would need much stronger driveline components to hold up to the heavier and wider 48” terra tires he planned on using. However, he also knew that this friend, Bob Chandler had begun to struggle with Bigfoot’s 2.5-ton military axles once it started running the 48” terras. Everett still has a broken 2.5-ton stub axle that Bob changed in his driveway during a visit to Minnesota. Everett decided that if his Monster was going to be as reliable as he wanted, he was going to need bigger axles so he decided to use a military axle similar to the 2.5-ton, only bigger. Everett used a set of 5-ton rated military axles, their larger housings, stronger king pins, and bigger axle shafts proved the perfect match for the 48” terra tires. Interestingly enough, Everett bought his 5-ton axles from Bob Chandler himself, who felt they were too bulky to fit underneath a pickup truck. Yet Everett was determined to make them work and found a way.
Everett knew that his Monster was simply going to be heavier, no matter how many tricks he put into it. Therefore, he realized it was time to step up the power. However, in the same manner as the axles, when Everett decided to upgrade, he did so in a big way! He dropped in a 513, all aluminum, big-block Chevy engine designed for use in Can-Am racing. To top it off, a 6-71 supercharger, twin Predator carburetors, and a nitrous oxide injection system were added. With the nitrous engaged, the engine was capable of producing an incredible 1,000 hp, which was simply unheard of in a Monster Truck back in 1981.
When it came time for naming the vehicle, Everett chose to call it USA-1 after the popular Chevrolet ad slogan of the Sixties. The name also carries a patriotic theme, which happens to be a key part of Everett’s beliefs. A beautiful blue paint job with ribbon graphics was applied and the trusty K-10 was now reborn USA-1, one of the first Monster Trucks to be created. Everett and the truck quickly set about performing at shows, fairs, and races performing what Monster Trucks had started to become known for, car crushing.
However, Everett was always coming up with new and innovative ideas and it wasn’t long before he had something else he wanted to try with USA-1. Noticing how some of the few other Monster Trucks had tilt front ends and, in some cases, tilt beds, Everett decided that USA-1 needed a similar type of flair. Yet again, Everett wanted to go a step further. He determined that it would be an even neater trick if the entire body of the truck would flip up, similar to how a funny car does only with hydraulics like the tilt front ends and beds of other Monster Trucks.
This was not going to be an easy task as Everett wanted to keep the stock interior and firewall so that the truck appeared completely original and intact when the body was down. This way, when the body flipped up, it would be a complete surprise to onlookers. To accomplish this, Everett set about building an entire internal cage and sub-frame system that tied the front end, cab, and bed together without them having to be attached to the frame itself. This internal structure allowed the body to rest on the frame and would secure itself to the frame automatically, when the body was lowered, so that everything was held in place when the body was down. When lifted, automatic locks would release the sub-frame system and allow the hydraulics to tilt it, and the body.
The hardest part, however, was cutting the floor and firewall free from the cab in a manner that left both intact. This took lots of careful planning and trimming. At one point, Everett thought that he would not be able to complete the concept. “I’ve just ruined a Monster Truck” he thought to himself. However, he persevered and as can be seen he was able to make the system work the way he intended and he achieved the effect he was after. When sitting in USA-1, you feel as though you are setting in a regular 1970 pickup, only you’re 10 feet off the ground. Then, once the hydraulics are engaged, the body lifts away from you and you are immediately out in the open. The experience is very surreal.
USA-1 was an immediate hit at shows, races, and other events it attended. Word spread about it quickly and before long it was being covered in nationally published off-road magazines. Yet another boost to Everett’s career and USA-1’s popularity would come in 1983, when the “That’s Incredible” TV show decided to stage a race between two Monster Trucks. Naturally, the “original” Monster Truck, Bigfoot, was selected for the show but a worthy adversary was also needed. At Bob Chandler’s suggestion, Everett and USA-1 were selected to be the opposing truck in the competition. The chemistry was perfect for the show, two of the earliest Monster Trucks to be built, two of the best engineered examples of Monster Trucks and to top it off, a Ford versus Chevy rivalry.
The show was a tremendous success but did not go without a hitch unfortunately. When Everett was invited to do the race, he was right in the middle of converting USA-1 from the 48” terra tires to the huge 66”x43” terra tires that a few other Monster Trucks had started to use. Indeed, Chandler had constructed an all-new Bigfoot #2 to use these huge tires. In an interesting turn of events, Chandler conceded the merits of the bigger 5-ton military axles once deciding to use the 66” tires. Everett was forced to make a decision: Put USA-1 back together and run the smaller 48” tires at the race or expedite his modifications and run the new 66” tires. Knowing that Bob would obviously run the larger tires somewhat forced Everett’s hand as he did not want USA-1 to appear so much smaller than Bigfoot on TV.
Therefore, Everett quickly finished the modifications necessary just in time to leave for the show, which was being filmed at drag racing strip of Gateway International Raceway in Granite City, Illinois, just across the river from Bigfoot’s home of St. Louis. The modifications included a sharp set of newly designed aluminum wheels that Everett had made by Midwest Wheel to his specifications. The custom wheels were drastically lighter than the steel wheels being used at the time. Few people know this, but Everett had not even had a chance to mount the larger tires to USA-1 before going to the race. The tires were literally first mounted there at the race! In fact, Chandler’s crew helped Everett unload and mount the big tires as Everett hadn’t had time to incorporate the tools necessary to handle them in his operation. When Everett pulled to the line, it was the first time he had even driven the truck with the 66” tires. With absolutely no test time, Everett didn’t know exactly what to expect but hoped for the best.
The race course was essentially two long rows of cars positioned end to end. At the end of each row was a set of water filled barrels. Each truck was to traverse its row of cars all the way to the end. The first truck to reach the end of its row and crush the water barrels would be declared a winner. Unfortunately, USA-1 had steering problems almost immediately as it climbed into the first set of cars in its row. Though it was a tremendous struggle, Everett managed to coerce the truck down the track and finish the race though Bigfoot managed to finish first. However, Everett says he can’t prove it but he believes Bob Chandler made the race look closer than it really was.
True competitors learn from their struggles and overcome them. Indeed Everett did the same. Everett knew USA-1’s steering needed a complete redesign to be able to cope with the new 66” tires. Having struggled in the TV show race, he quickly deduced that the weak link in the system was the steering box and drag link that was used to turn the tires. Instead of searching for heavier units to replace the problematic ones, which is what other Monster Truck builders were doing at the time, Everett’s ingenuity and aptitude for efficiency shown through. He devised a steering system that eliminated the steering box and draglink all together.
Everett was told by others that his idea wouldn’t work which was a big mistake on their part. Instead Everett created the first ram-on-axle hydraulic steering system used to steer the front tires on a Monster Truck. Instead of the steering column feeding to a steering box, it was attached to a special hydraulic unit called an orbital. This orbital pumps fluid as the steering wheel is turned. The orbital was then connected, via hydraulic hoses, to a ram mounted on the axle. As the orbital pumps fluid when the steering wheel was turned, the fluid was pumped from one side of the hydraulic ram to the other, thus moving the ram. The ram was attached to the axle housing at one end and the axle steering arm at the other so when it moved, it turned the tires. This orbital system used a power assist driven off the engine very similar to the power steering assist on regular cars and trucks. Therefore it was easy to setup and provided nearly effortless steering of the massive tires without the weak steering box and drag link. Furthermore the system was more efficient and lighter than a mechanical system used from a heavy truck. It also eliminated the stress on the frame caused by a mechanical system. The steering stresses were now absorbed by the heavy duty axle housings that were much more able to cope with them. Once again, Everett’s racing background and ingenuity led to a solution. This setup immediately became popular as other Monster Truck builders took note and today, ram-on-axle, steering is used on virtually all Monster Trucks.
Everett, with his motor sports background, has always understood the importance of a good power to weight ratio while others were simply adding heavier components and even more steel to support these components. Therefore, it was not surprising to see that Everett quickly set about removing more of the extra weight that the huge 5-ton axles and 66” tires added to his truck. He designed special driveline brakes that incorporated a regular sized disk brake mounted on the pinion of each axle. This allowed the heavy drum brakes to be taken off the ends of the axles. Though the pinion brakes were small, they used the gear reduction in the differentials to magnify their effort and that allowed the system to supply enough braking force to the wheels. Another advantage of this system is that it allowed the use of the truck’s stock master cylinder so a large and bulky heavy truck unit would not have to be fitted onto the fire wall and under the hood. Today, Monster Trucks still utilize pinion brakes as a way of saving un-sprung weight.
Although Monster Trucks competed against each other in mud racing, hill climbing, and tug-o-war competitions, the televised race on “That’s Incredible” put Monster Truck competition in front of a national audience. The publicity the event generated caused many event promoters, who were already booking Monster Trucks at their events, to take notice. After a few short years, audiences had already started to get bored with the basic car crushing that Monster Trucks had become known for. Adding the element of competition and the excitement of side by side racing put a much needed spark into Monster Trucks. This new form of racing was an instant success at events and within a few short years, Monster Trucks went from being side-show, fill in acts, to their own main event.
Even though USA-1 did not win the race on TV, the publicity was great for Everett and his truck and they got even more popular. The truck actually got so popular that the Playskool toy company proposed a USA-1 battery operated SST toy to market alongside the Bigfoot and other SST toys they produced. Unfortunately, a change in the Playskool company resulted in the SST toys being canceled so there were never any USA-1 toys produced to be sold. Though some may remember seeing pictures of the toy in a magazine publication, a single prototype exists and is displayed in Everett’s office. However, one positive aspect of the experience is that it led to a new paint scheme for USA-1. Since Bigfoot and USA-1 were such similar colors and Playskool was already producing the Bigfoot toy, the company worked with Everett to produce a new paint scheme to make the truck and its toy stand out on its own. The result is the pearl paint scheme with patriotic ribbon graphics that USA-1 would become known for.
Other updates to the truck included a new, bigger 540 cubic inch power plant with Predator carburetors and, as before, nitrous oxide injection. The big 540 would help USA-1 get a little revenge against its rival Bigfoot. During the eighties, the two trucks would often compete in the mud racing pits at the annual 4-Wheel Jamboree as an added show to the fans. Everett put the 540 and nitrous injection to good use and could usually manage to get USA-1 further than Bigfoot.
Once again, Everett could see that change was coming. Having come from a drag racing background, he believed that competition, more specifically racing, was the key element to the survival of the Monster Truck Industry. Having already competed with his first USA-1 truck and several racing events, Everett took what he learned from racing his first truck and began to construct a new USA-1 for racing competition. Everett began construction on this new truck in 1987, before any official Monster Truck racing series had started. He began building the new truck as a leap of faith, knowing that racing was what the industry needed. Since a racing series had not yet developed, Everett had contracted a schedule of displays with Chevrolet for promotional purposes of his sponsor. Everett hoped that these displays would also help promote the new truck and Monster Truck racing as well.
The new truck was a more sophisticated version of the original USA-1. In many cases it was similar in construction. It utilized an OEM Chevrolet body and frame like the original, only these were 1988 model parts. Of course, General Motors loved this about the truck and made sure to mention these facts in their 1988 ad campaigns for Chevy trucks. And although the ’88 model 1-ton pickup frame that Everett used for the construction proved to be plenty strong, it was still much lighter than the heavy truck frames that most other teams were using at the time.
The new truck also featured a leaf spring suspension, similar to the original, though the springs were newly designed custom units with more travel. Additionally Everett worked with a suspension company to develop some specially valved shocks for the truck. The new suspension was a vast improvement over the original USA-1.
Some other similarities to the original truck, though more sophisticated, were the use of the 5-ton military axles and a light weight transfer case. Of course, the 5-ton axles had become standard issue on Monster Trucks, but many builders had begun to incorporate planetary knuckles and hubs on the ends of the axles. These larger knuckles held up better to the stresses of Monster Truck competition with 66” tires. Also the gear reduction in the hubs reduced stress on driveline parts thus improving their reliability. Additionally, many teams had begun to utilize massive heavy truck transfer cases to hold up to the stresses. 2.5-ton and even 5-ton rated transfer cases had started to become commonplace.
Always keeping that ever-present power to weight ratio in mind, Everett learned, by competing with his original USA-1, how to make his axles live without adding planetaries and he also found a transfer case that was strong enough, yet much, much lighter than what most other Monster Truck builders used. Again, Everett applied this same logic to the ’88 model truck with added sophistication. He had custom, specially-hardened axle shafts made which allowed them to hold up without needing the stress reduction that planetaries offered. He also reshaped the steering knuckles to allow the tires to be mounted further inboard, which reduced leverage on the steering knuckles and king pins. These modifications allowed the new USA-1 to stand up to abuse that even several planetary trucks could not, without sacrificing the weight penalty of using planetaries.
When it came to the transfer case, Everett found another light weight unit for the ’88 model truck, however it wasn’t a transplant from another vehicle, like the original USA-1. The transfer case in the new truck was an all aluminum unit made by Pro-Fab that was very similar to the light weight transfer cases used by truck pullers. In addition to its light weight, this unit offered the ability to change its ratio by simply removing a cover and swapping drive gears. Everett worked closely with Pro-Fab to develop a unit that he felt would hold up to Monster Truck use as well as have part-time capabilities so it could switch between RWD and 4WD.
Of course Everett received a little rebuttal for his ideas on the need for racing in the Monster Truck industry and the new concepts he was building into the ’88 model truck. When other industry people visited Everett’s shop and saw the new truck under construction, they laughed at the tiny aluminum transfer case setting between the frame rails and said it would never hold up. Of course they were proven wrong and by the middle of the ’88 season, Pro-Fab was receiving orders for their new Monster Truck transfer case from many of these same naysayers.
Little did Everett know that while he was working on building a race truck that he could hopefully use as a method of promoting Monster Truck racing, the wheels had already been set in motion for his dream come true. As early as 1986, TNT Motorsports had begun to perform events that were exclusively Monster Truck competition. For the ’88 season TNT decided they would take the next step, a true Monster Truck racing series with a point system that would crown a champion at the end of the season. They were able to acquire the sponsorship they needed to develop a year-long, nationwide series, and even obtained television coverage for the events. Naturally, when Everett heard of the series he was very excited and wanted desperately to participate. Of course, TNT Motorsports was all too glad to have such a popular truck at their events. There was only one problem.
Everett, and his all new racing truck, would not be able to race in the series for the first three months of competition. This was due to the new truck’s intense display schedule that had already been committed to Chevrolet. Additionally the original USA-1 was also booked at other events so Everett would have to wait to get his chance to race.
When finally able to attend the ’88 TNT events, Everett, and his team, found themselves three months behind in the points battle. Furthermore, the series was being dominated by friend and rival team, Bob Chandler and Bigfoot. But Everett’s persevering nature wasn’t about to let him give up. This was finally what he wanted so even if he was not likely to win the points race, he was still going to compete. However, the truck proved to be far more competitive than even Everett suspected and when he put a young, fearless new driver, Rod Litzau, behind the wheel the team really began to make ground in the points chase. This was the toughest decision Everett has made throughout his Monster Truck career.
After two races Everett was faced with a dilemma. His dream of a legitimate racing series had finally come true, and as exited as he was to be racing his new USA-1 truck, he quickly realized that he was no longer able to concentrate on being a race driver. He found himself making silly mistakes because he had too many other business related thoughts on his mind. Rod was young and aggressive and didn’t have all the business concerns to distract him from driving. It was a difficult decision to make, giving up that driver’s seat, but it proved to be a good one.
The USA-1 team quickly managed to get into second place in the ’88 points battle but the Bigfoot team still had a substantial lead. The series quickly became a battle between the two teams to see if Bigfoot could manage to hold off the hard charging USA-1 with its points lead still intact by the end of the season. Week after week, the USA-1 team whittled away at Bigfoot’s points lead until the championship came down to the final event of the season in Louisville, Kentucky. The final round of the event’s first night came down to the two top rivals. Both drivers made kamikaze runs with Rod and USA-1 actually rolling on its side, but not before crossing the finish line. USA-1 won the race and in doing so, clinched the championship making the team the first ever National Champion of Monster Truck Racing.
After winning the championship, Everett immediately made bigger plans for the next racing season. The team started on a new truck based on Everett’s beliefs of where the sport was headed with the anticipation of having it done by the middle of the ’89 season. The plan was to then campaign a two truck team in the series.
Unfortunately, several factors led to Everett holding back development of the new truck. In preparation for the ’89 series, the ’88 truck was completely overhauled so that it would be fresh for the season’s start. Also a new semi tractor was purchased and a new hauler trailer was built to transport the team. All these activities left little time to work on the new truck. Once the season started, the team found itself extremely busy with fierce competition. Add to that, a relocation of the team’s headquarters to a bigger facility in Ham Lake and the new truck was delayed further still. Additionally, TNT had begun to incorporate some characteristics into their events that didn’t sit right with Everett’s views. Ideas and concepts were proposed that were starting towards what Everett now calls “Professional Wrestling on Wheels”; a term he uses to define what he observes the industry to be today. Not knowing the outcome of these issues and with so much other work to be done setting up a new facility and keeping up with the series, Everett chose to keep the ’88 model truck in competition alone so as not to potentially waste resources on the new truck.
However, when it came to the racing, the’89 season of the TNT series was even more exciting than 1988. Many teams managed to improve their programs to make them more competitive. Several trucks had increased horsepower and some teams built entirely new trucks with improved suspensions and better handling. The result was a much more closely contested points battle among several teams, not just two. Although the top rival Bigfoot team remained conspicuously absent from most of the ’89 events, the competition got much tougher. Still, the USA-1 team was a serious threat and in spite of suffering several crashes, they managed a very respectable third place in the ’89 series, a strong follow up to their championship season the year before.
As in 1989, several teams stepped up their programs for the ’90 season, including a returning Bigfoot team with an all new revolutionary race truck with a much advanced chassis and suspension design, which created a political stir throughout the season. Yet with more teams making improvements, the competition was even tougher than the previous year. However, with Steve Wilke at the wheel, the team managed a sixth place finish in the points standings, which is still pretty amazing considering by this time, the ’88 model truck was one of the oldest trucks in TNT’s top ten. Everett credits Rod and Steve for “doing the impossible” when it came to driving the ’88 truck during the later seasons. By the ’89 season and certainly into the ’90 season Everett believes they were seriously overdriving the truck beyond its intentions and is surprised Rod and Steve remained so competitive when other trucks were handling much better by then. The truck was still possibly the fastest but not capable of handling this incredible speed with the old style suspension.
For the ’91 season, the TNT series was bought out by Pace/SFX, the owners of the USHRA. Unfortunately, Everett was not interested on working with the USHRA having dealt with them previously in his career. Instead, Everett looked to yet another series that was taking shape for the ’91 season. This series was the new Penda race series, sponsored by the Penda Company, manufacturers of popular bed liners for pickup trucks. This series was set to take place at the Jamboree events that were held throughout the Midwest in the spring, summer, and fall. These outdoor events, which featured straight-line racing had a very similar format and feel as the TNT events that Everett preferred.
Having made a commitment to be at the first event of the ’91 Penda Series, in Memphis, Everett reluctantly chose to use the ’88 truck even though he felt that it wouldn’t be competitive. He had not secured the needed sponsorship to build and campaign a new race truck and was skeptical of the new Penda series.
For the ’92 and ’93 seasons, Everett consigned racing partnerships with teams that already had newer designed race trucks. This was done to keep exposure for the sponsors that supported USA-1. Everett also purchased an all-new, state-of-the-art, racing chassis from Patrick Enterprises to begin construction on his own race truck to campaign. Everett still had hopes of finding sponsors to start a new racing series. Unfortunately a legitimate racing series never materialized so the chassis was never put to use.
Ironically, Everett’s major sponsor, True Value Hardware had decided to pull out of all motor sports sponsorship during a major corporate restructuring. Everett’s other main sponsor, Chevrolet, had also decided to discontinue their support as well. They agreed with Everett about the direction in which the sport had turned. Worse yet, the Penda series began to become mired in the same kind of political problems that had plagued the TNT series, as Everett had feared would happen. With lack of support to campaign a competitive team and with no legitimate racing series in which to campaign, Everett was forced to withdraw from national level events because he could not convince potential sponsors to invest in what the sport was becoming.
Throughout the 90’s, as Monster Truck events changed focus from racing competition, to staged melodramatics and scripted events, Everett made several attempts to garner new sponsorship for his race team and also support to create a legitimate racing series. Unfortunately, with the type of events that were getting exposure, Everett could not find companies and businesses that were willing to buy into what he refers to as “Professional Wrestling on Wheels”. Every time Everett would get a new idea and approach a potential sponsor he would get shot down because they did not wish to be associated with what they had seen of Monster Truck shows. The melodramatics that Monster Trucks had started to become known for were leaving such a bad impression, that Everett could not find sponsors that wanted to be associated with Monster Trucks at all, even if he was proposing a legitimate racing series. No one wanted to take the risk of being associated with the wanton destruction and poorly acted skits that Monster Truck events had been reduced to.
Everett has often said that as exciting as winning the first National Championship was, he was more excited that a foundation was set for a new motor sport. However, as the Industry moved away from legitimate racing, Everett became more and more disappointed. One brief gleam of hope appeared when the Pro-MT series was developed in 2000. Everett was excited to see someone, besides just himself, attempt to bring legitimacy back to Monster Truck events. In fact, Everett even worked a deal with up and coming Owner/Driver, Randy Brown. Randy had started to campaign his new Pure Adrenaline Monster Truck in the Pro-MT series and was proving to be a tough competitor. However, Randy, himself a long-time fan of Monster Trucks and USA-1, longed to work with Everett on a project that would bring the USA-1 name back to the public eye. The two men actually were able to put a one-time deal together that involved Randy running a USA-1 body at the 2001 Darlington Pro-MT event. Randy even captured a racing win at this event putting the USA-1 name into the winner’s circle.
Unfortunately, Everett simply didn’t have the support to maintain the promotion and after the 2002 series, Pro-MT lost its host promoter so the series dissolved, leaving Everett and USA-1 back where they were before with a lack of support and no where to race.
Faced with the tough realization that after 16 years of trying to lead the Monster Truck Industry towards legitimate racing competition without success, Everett began to actually work on an exit strategy. He had been able to sustain his business, though on a much smaller scale, by using the ’70 and ’88 model trucks for displays and exhibitions, and also with merchandise agreements that marketed toys and models of the trucks. However, as persevering as Everett is, he was willing to concede that it might be time to move on with his life. In 2003 He began to look for investors that would be willing to buy the USA-1 name. But during his search for a way out of the business Everett found a new mission, a new promotion through which USA-1 could be used.
Everett had built his USA-1 Monster Trucks as a means to promote things that were very important to him. Now he would discover that he could also use the trucks to promote another important aspect in his life. It’s easy to see that Everett possesses strong principles. He has held to these beliefs and used them to hold fast to what he thought was right, even under adversity that most of his peers could not withstand. When other Monster Truck teams went along with the pressure that eventually turned Monster Truck Racing into Professional Wrestling on Wheels, Everett refrained. He couldn’t live with himself participating in things he didn’t believe in no matter what it cost him financially. Instead he focused on trying to do what he thought was right and convincing others to do the same. These beliefs can also be seen in Everett’s personal life through his wonderful family. Everett is extremely proud of Pat, his wife of thirty years, his two daughters, and his two grand children. He credits them for hanging in there through the bad years as well as good and for making his career worth while. These strong principles that shape Everett’s personality and earn him the respect he has from his loyal fans are rooted in Christian beliefs. In addition to his staunch opinions on Monster Trucks, and life in general, Everett has strong religious beliefs and credits them to him being able to adhere to what he thinks is right
Early in 2004, Everett was approached by a close friend, Tom Kuehn, with a dramatic new use for USA-1. Tom’s idea was completely different from anything Everett had ever considered, yet ironically it fit perfectly with Everett’s beliefs. He only needed to consider it for a few minutes before getting excited. Tom had a vision to create a piece of art that conveyed the message that this country was falling into despair and unless it’s brought back to its original Christian principles, it will fall. Everett took Tom’s pencil sketch of an American flag draped over the Cross to his close friend and artist, Jerry Snyder, who has painted the graphics on the USA-1 trucks, semis, and other USA-1 projects for almost twenty years. Jerry created the “Spirit of Christ” painting that is the visualization of this new mission. Tom then asked Everett if he would be interested in using his name and reputation, as well as that of USA-1’s, to carry this Christian, patriotic, Americanism message to the people of this country.
Monster Trucks make great promotional tools and have been used as such since their inception. So why not use one to promote a Christian message? When Tom pitched the idea to Everett, it was like a new fire had started within him. Everett had a renewed desire to make this concept a success. The ’88 model truck was updated with additional graphics that show the new artwork and message in order to promote them. Along with the message that “America Needs the Spirit of Christ”, Everett has come up with a few additional messages that he feels are important as well. As a supporter of America’s Armed Forces, Everett has also begun to display the “Pray for Our Troops, They Protect Our Freedom” and “One Nation, Under God, Let’s Keep it That Way” messages on his trucks and haulers.
Everett has begun to use the trucks at displays and events for religious organizations and churches as well as events supporting our troops and their families at home. He hopes the concept will take off and eventually become a larger scale campaign where churches and organizations, nationwide, can use him and the trucks at events to promote these messages.
Photo by: Josh Kirscher
It would seem, almost 30 years after getting into the Monster Truck business, that Everett’s career has come full circle. Starting out, building a vehicle for promotion, creating lasting technological improvements that are still in use, becoming the Monster Truck Industry’s first racing champion, back to using the trucks to promote something dear to him. But, as they say, everything happens for a reason, and Everett is convinced the mission he is currently involved in is the work that he has been lead to do. And as we have seen, once Everett is convinced, it’s extremely hard to change his mind.
|Everett wishes to thank:
His loving wife, Pat, his children, and his grandchildren for sticking by him
Rod, Steve, and all the USA-1 Crewmembers for their tremendously hard work
Larry Joel for helping him get started in racing
Tom Kuehn and Jerry Snyder for helping bring the “New Mission” to light
Scott Bryant, a fan, a friend and freelance writer
Bob Chandler, for his friendship and mutual support in the early years of this sport
Check out the book, Monster Trucks 500 Series by my friends Scott Bryant and Dave Huntoon. This book provides one of the most accurate histories of the monster truck sport that I’ve ever seen.
Permanent link to this article: http://www.usa-14x4.com/history/