The Bearfoot Dodge
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The winter of 1991 was a busy one for the Shafers. For years they lived with Bearfoot's chevy blue colors, and now it would all suddenly change to Dodge Red. Bearfoot 4x4 underwent many dramatic changes. Brand new Keith Black Chrysler Hemi motors were ordered, 1992 Dodge Dakota fiberglass bodies were fabricated, new
haulers and tow rigs to transport the trucks were exquisitely decorated and even new souvineir hats, shirts and posters had to be made. Fred even went so far as to sell any and all of the remaining Bearfoot Chevy trucks. Before Fred knew it he was being booked all over the country by Dodge Truck dealerships to have his new Dakota (still the #10 race truck) on display.

Having a passion for racing, Fred could not wait for the US Hot Rod and PENDA points series to begin. With the backing he needed Fred gave his fellow competitors quite a show that season, which caused many other teams to re-design their trucks in order to keep up. Running very consistant all year long, Shafer made a late season charge. Once again like in '90 it took until the final show at the Rosemont Horizon in Chicago, Illinois for Fred to win the 1992 Camel Mud and Monster Truck World Championship. He finished 3rd in the Special Events PENDA points series that year.

In 1993 Bearfoot 11 - another Dodge Dakota was unleashed. This all tube frame center seat race truck had an incredible 30" of suspension travel, 2 nitrogen coil-over shocks per wheel, a 3 speed lenco transmissionn, light weight ZF axles, and an all aluminum Keith Black 572ci "dry block" (an engine that has no water in it) that put out over 1500 horsepower. This `belly motor' was located behind and below the driver - about 3 feet off of the ground in the `belly' of the truck. This was a huge leap forward in the interest of technology, and it prooved to be a difficult struggle for the first few months.

Now that Fred had himself a new truck, he hired Ken Deppe to race his #10 truck. Deppe's truck was re-named the Dodge Express since the rules say you can not have two trucks racing in the same points series with the same name. With Fred sitting on another healthy USHRA points series lead midway through the season, he and Ken went after the PENDA Points series with full force. There was some struggling as it takes a while to work the bugs out of any multi truck race team. In September of that year, Fred being the showman that he is showed up at the PENDA points series Fall Jamboree Nationals sporting a brand new 1994 Dodge Ram fiberglass body on his truck. Team Bearfoot finished 3rd and 4th on the PENDA points series that year.

Going into the final race of the 1993 USHRA season, Fred Shafer had a huge points lead. The final showdown was held in Dodge Counry - right outside of Detroit at the Pontiac Silverdome in Pontiac, Michigan. All Fred had to do was advance on to round two, and he would clinch the championship. Dennis Anderson red lighted in Grave Digger giving Fred his third USHRA World Championship in 4 years. Ken Deppe was also at that show racing the Dodge Express, when he flipped the truck doing extensive damage to his brand new (only 3 days old) Dodge Ram fiberglass body.

Ken Deppe would take a leave of absence for the 1994 season, while Bearfoot and the Dodge Express would continue touring throughout the country. This season was a particularly difficult one as Team Bearfoot had to get used to new drivers, crew, and procedure changes all over again.

Fred had mentioned that Team Bearfoot was going to be hiring a new `secret driver` for 1995, and to everybody's surprise it was Ken Deppe. After having spent the past year working for Bigfoot, Deppe was ready to proove himself once again and make this team work. The PENDA points series seemed like the place to begin, and they really got off to a great start. Only a couple of months earlier Fred debuted Bearfoot #12 - his best designed truck to date. It was decked out with typical Bearfoot equipment, except the motor was moved up and towards the back of the truck to help it fly better. The frame design was greatly simplified, and it weighed in at just under 10,000 pounds (1998 rules will drop the minimum weight limit to 9,000 pounds) without its driver. Both trucks got new graphics, and Ken got the belly motored truck Fred had become so successful with. The Dodge Express name was replaced with a more well suited one - Rampage.

Fred and Ken dominated the first PENDA points series race in Lima Ohio of that year. Fred broke the worlds record for speed 3 times that weekend, and advanced to the finals both days - winning in one of them. Dodge Motorsports was so pleased that they ran a full page ad proclaiming the victory in the September 1995 issues of Petersens 4 Wheel magazine and also Off Road Magazine - and yes I was the one who took the picture. That season was great for Team Bearfoot, both trucks finished within the top 5 in points. Deppe would once again leave Bearfoot at the end of 1994 for the final time.

1996 was a year of unique achievements for Fred Shafer's team. Todd Frolik would take over where Ken Deppe left off, and did very well behind the wheel of the now glossy black colored Rampage. Frolik had crewed with Bearfoot for a number fo years before that. While Shafer sailed away with the Guinness Book of World's Records distance jump of 141'1" in Topeka Kansas, Frolik was the one to finally put a stop to Bigfoot's Dan Runte and his incredible 8 event winning streak on the PENDA points series. Todd would then go on to win an event in that series in only his first year on the tour.

The season ended with a bang in Indianapolis, Indiana at the PENDA points series Fall Nationals. Shafer dominated the first days show, taking the win. The final day got even better as Fred set the fastest time ever by a Monster Truck on a 200ft competition track. He ran a 4.59 second pass to Bigfoot's loosing 4.86. It was an all Dodge final as Bearfoot went head to head with Rampage, giving Todd Frolik his second career victory by only .01 of a second. Bearfoot and Rampage finished 3rd and 4th in the 1996 season.

In 1997 The PENDA Corporation opted not to renew their sponsorship with Special Events, resulting in the cancellation of the points series races at the Special Events Jamborees. It was also time for Dodge to renew Bearfoot's contract, which was originally listed as a 5 year contract. Sadly the executives at Dodge Motorsports decided to explore other options in the racing industry, leaving Bearfoot behind. Fred Shafer continued to race, his trucks still doing shows for the USHRA and other smaller promotors across the country. Bearfoot has since removed all Dodge logos and graphics from their trucks. At some events they will even cover the nose of the trucks as a form of protest towards Dodge. Soon rumors of Fred's retirement from racing were getting tossed about, and some of his older trucks and haulers began to show up in FOR SALE ads. It was obvious that they had to cut back their budget, and team now without their sponsor. Like all forms of racing, you almost need an unlimited budget to stay competitive.

Fred showed fans and competitors alike that he's still got more than what it takes when he added another win to his belt this year, and a historic win at that. It took place at the first ever US Truck Fest in Charlotte, North Carolina at the Charlotte Motor Speedway in June. The track was the longest in Monster Truck racing history utilizing a u-turn course with 8 different jumps.

As of October 1, 1997 Fred Shafer will officially announce his retirement. So what's next for Bearfoot you ask...