There are a lot of cool jobs in the world: professional beer tester…pool boy at Charlie Sheen’s mansion…roadie for Air Supply. Ah yes, we can all dare to dream, but many of us have given up on finding our ideal job (except for the beer testing thing).
Not so for Ron Bachmann, who has been living the dream as part of the BIGFOOT monster truck team for 28 years. There aren’t many people in the monster truck business that can say they’ve been around as long as Bachmann. Known affectionately by his teammates and friends in the business as “Lurch,” “Big Man,” or “Puppy,” the towering yet gentle giant is a model of consummate professionalism with over two decades on the road and more to come.
Bachmann’s career at BIGFOOT began in 1984, during one of the most important and formative times in the monster truck industry’s history. At the time, monster trucks were still strictly exhibition vehicles and were a far cry from the pure-bred race machines of today. Bachmann started off as a shop worker and crew member on the road, a task he would fulfill until the later part of the decade, when he would transition to a driving position behind the wheel of various BIGFOOT trucks including BIGFOOT #3 and later BIGFOOT #6.
“To be honest, when I first started with BIGFOOT back in ’84 nobody, especially not me, had any idea that this stuff was going to become as popular as it eventually did,” Bachmann said. “I was young and wanted to travel and see the sights and all that, and of course BIGFOOT was quickly becoming a household name, so I jumped on board and really haven’t looked back.”
Bachmann’s driving career for the team is a notable one, despite coming at a highly transitional time in the monster truck world.
“Most teams, including us, were switching over to newer Stage 3 tube-chassis race trucks, but it was a slow process,” Bachmann said. “So a number of our Stage 2 trucks were still counted on to perform at shows and generate income, so I took the reigns of BIGFOOT #6 and did the best I could to win races and stay competitive against the crop of newer trucks that were coming out.”
Bachmann did well for himself behind the wheel of #6 with regards to winning races, but his most famous on-track moment was somewhat of an accident.
“I was in #6, racing against a newer Stage 3 monster truck in Toronto, CAN at the dome,” Bachmann said. “We both went into the first turn a bit too fast, and we ended up rolling over at exactly the same time. Had I not pushed the truck quite so hard, I would have had an easy win because the other guy knew he was going to have to run me and my old truck pretty hard to pull out a win. I was OK, but the truck was a bit beat up as it still had a full steel truck body. As far as I know, I was the last BIGFOOT driver to roll a sheet metal-bodied truck.”
Before long, Bachmann chose to curtail his driving career, but not until after an ironman tour of the United Kingdom, where Bachmann performed on a nearly daily basis for several months. Soon after that, the team created BIGFOOT #12, the monster truck industry’s first dedicated static display truck, and Bachmann was named its driver and caretaker, a position he still maintains today.
“I think I’ve been just about everywhere at least twice with ole #12,” Bachmann said with a laugh. “We debuted the truck in 1993 at the Super Bowl, and since then I’ve taken it to SEMA, the Daytona 500, various trade shows, corporate displays, Ford Motor Company headquarters, the US Nationals, and just about every other famous location I can think of. I think I may have met just about everybody and their brother twice!”
For the last two years, Bachmann’s truck has sported the 35th Anniversary BIGFOOT “RetroFoot” body, styled after the Original Monster Truck® BIGFOOT #1’s 1979 F-250 body. For 2012, the truck is scheduled to receive a more modernized fiberglass body, although Bachmann and his teammates have been quiet about what paint job the truck will carry.
“Shhhh! It’s a secret!” Bachmann said. 2012 will no doubt be yet another busy year for the Jerseyville, IL, native who recently turned 50.
“From a display driver’s standpoint, I have a great schedule each year,” Bachmann said. “ I get to spend a lot of time with the great folks at various Firestone retailers around the country, in addition to doing a number of pretty cool trade shows, car shows, drag races, stock car races, and whatever else they cook up for me. You’d think after 20 some-odd years it would be all the same, but really it’s something different every day. It’s in my blood.”
Kind of makes you want to rekindle the search for your dream job, doesn’t it? Here’s hoping for that Air Supply reunion tour and a little luck…