Bigfoot, the legendary creation that launched the Monster Truck industry, has entertained fans around the world with its unique brand of car-crushing destruction, leaving millions to dream of one day driving the gargantuan machine.

Dan Runte is one of the lucky few to live that dream, and the 43-year-old native of Freeport, Ill., will be behind the wheel of Bigfoot on Saturday night, Aug. 18, when The Dirt Track @ Lowe's Motor Speedway hosts the eighth annual Circle K Monster Truck Bash.

Bigfoot No. 16, the newest truck in the Bigfoot fleet, is powered by a 565-cubic-inch Ford engine, rides on giant 66-inch Firestone tires and tips the scales at a metal-mashing 10,000 pounds. It features a 2006 Ford Super Duty F-Series fiberglass pickup truck body and shakes the ground with more than twice the horsepower of a NASCAR NEXTEL Cup stock car.

Today's Bigfoot evolved from an early 1970's Ford F-250 4x4 pickup truck that construction contractor Bob Chandler used on the job during the week and took off-road for family entertainment on weekends.

After struggling to find four-wheel-drive parts in the St. Louis area, Chandler and his wife, Marilyn, decided to open Midwest Four Wheel Drive & Performance Center. Chandler continued to modify his Ford truck-which earned the nickname Bigfoot because a friend said Chandler had a "big foot" when he was behind the wheel-and used it as a promotional tool for the family's new business.

Bigfoot made its first paid appearance at a Denver car show in 1979 and then began appearing at truck-and-tractor pulls and car shows across the country.

In 1981, Chandler decided to see what would happen if he drove Bigfoot over a couple of junk cars. A few months later, he duplicated the stunt during a stadium show and a new form of motorsports entertainment was launched.

Runte joined the Bigfoot organization in 1989 and worked as a crew member before climbing behind the wheel of the legendary machine.

"I started in motocross, did some tractor pulling and then went to work as a member of the Bigfoot crew, hauling and helping maintain the Monster Trucks for Bob Chandler," said Runte. "Eventually, I became a driver and I've been driving Bigfoot ever since.

"We have raced all over the United States," Runte added. "I have even been out of the country for shows. We have traveled to Australia, Aruba and Puerto Rico, to name a few. I love the competition part of it. Also, it's really neat the huge number of fans that Bob (Chandler) and Bigfoot have attracted. In the end, it's all about the fans-especially the kids."

Runte has won countless Monster Truck races, but his biggest accomplishment came when he jumped Bigfoot over an airplane.

"I hold the long-jump record in a Monster Truck at 202 feet," Runte said. "We actually jumped over a grounded Boeing 727 at an air show and it was pretty extreme. It went way beyond what we do during a normal event, but it's pretty exciting for Bigfoot and me to hold that record."

During the Aug. 18 Circle K Monster Truck Bash, Bigfoot will be joined by Avenger, Brutus, El Matador, Equalizer, Hot Tamale, King Krunch, Nitemare, Raminator, Samson, Scarlet Bandit and T-Maxx for an evening of motorized mayhem.

Activities begin with the Circle K Pre-Race Pit Party where fans can meet the Monster Truck drivers, have their pictures taken with the gargantuan trucks and obtain autographs. Ticket holders can gain early entry to the Pit Party by purchasing a can of Full Throttle energy drink at a Circle K store and presenting the empty can at the gate.

Early entry for the Pit Party starts at 4 p.m. and spectator gates open at 5. The Circle K Pre-Race Pit Party concludes at 6:30 p.m. with on-track activities starting at 7:30.

If purchased in advance, reserved seats for the Aug. 18 Circle K Monster Truck Bash are $20 for adults and $10 for children 12 and under.

Adult seats are $5 more the day of the event while parking for all events at The Dirt Track is free.

Tickets can be purchased online at www.charlottemotorspeedway.com or by calling the Lowe's Motor Speedway ticket office at 1-800-455-FANS.