DETROIT LAKES, Minn. - In the early 1970s, two-wheel drive was still the norm for most motor vehicles; four-wheel drive was still relatively uncommon outside of the military or on farms, and the invention of the sport utility vehicle was still more than a decade away.
But by the mid-1970s, people were starting to take more of an interest in four-wheel drive vehicles, and modifying them for off-road recreational use.
“In 1974 I bought my first used Chevy 4WD pickup,” said Everett Jasmer, who grew up in Thief River Falls before moving to the Twin Cities. “I was into drag racing and motorsports as a youngster, so I had to modify all my vehicles. The first thing I wanted to do was put bigger tires on my new truck. There was no such thing as lift kits, so I modified my truck myself, using the biggest tires I could find.”
Jasmer was by no means the only guy to have this idea, but he and his big truck, which he later called USA-1, are considered pioneers of the sport, and are permanently registered in the Monster Truck Hall of Fame.
So when The Roamers, a Fargo-based 4WD club, organized an event near Detroit Lakes for the weekend of July 28-29, 1979, and invited another monster truck pioneer, Bob Chandler and his "Bigfoot" truck, to come from St. Louis to do a special demonstration, Jasmer decided to make the trip from Detroit Lakes with the future USA-1 and meet Chandler.
“We hit it off right away,” Jasmer said, recalling the event in a field on the north side of Pearl Lake, southwest of Detroit Lakes, "and spent the day chatting and getting to know each other.”
From that meeting, a friendship developed that has lasted to this day.
“He just called me a couple of days ago,” Jasmer said.
On that weekend back in 1979, though their friendship was but a few hours old, Chandler somehow managed to talk Jasmer into taking on the mud run demonstration along with him, despite the fact that Jasmer hadn’t come equipped for driving his truck through a swamp that day.
“There may have been a little bit of pride involved,” Jasmer admitted. “Detroit Lakes was my home country. So the pride and the adrenaline kicked in, and I told him I would take a run at it — on one condition.”
Because Bigfoot had bigger tires and would cut deeper ruts through the swamp, Jasmer wanted to go first.
“I didn’t see how either one of us were going to make it — there was standing water and deep mud,” he said. “When I made it across, I was shocked.”
Chandler followed him across successfully. He kept prodding Jasmer to take another crack at it, and eventually persuaded Jasmer to make two more runs across the swamp with him. After that, however, Jasmer said, “I’m done. I’ve got to drive 200 miles to get home yet.”
So Chandler invited him to hop into Bigfoot with him for one final run.
“He proceeded to pull up to the edge of the swamp,” Jasmer recalled. “I remember quite clearly he shifted to 2WD instead of 4WD… we got about two-thirds of the way across and got stuck.”
It was up to Jasmer to pull him out, which he proceeded to do.
“From my perspective, that was a key point in the beginning of what has now become a multi-billion dollar industry… the day Bob and I met,” Jasmer said.
And now, 40 years later, he is trying to get his hands on any film footage of the historic mud run that might exist — a quest that has thus far been unsuccessful, though he has located a few photos, as well as an original poster advertising the weekend event in Detroit Lakes, with which he surprised Chandler at the 2017 Monster Truck Hall of Fame event.
But with the 40th anniversary coming up this summer, “I want to do something special,” Jasmer said. “If anyone has 8mm film from the event and could send it to me, that would be great.”
He said he would like to be able to show film footage from the run during this year’s Monster Truck Hall of Fame presentation in November.
Anyone who might be able to help him out is asked to call Jasmer at 763-434-8813 or go to his website at usa-14x4.com.