It was three decades ago that the iconic monster truck Grave Digger came to life on the banks of Kill Devil Hills, North Carolina and E3 Spark Plugs is joining fans worldwide in celebrating its 30th anniversary year. Debuting in 1982, the original Grave Digger was a red 1952 Ford pickup truck tricked out as a mud bogger by owner Dennis Anderson. And while his friends were none too impressed initially, they’d soon eat their words.
It was a bit of amicable trash talking with fellow racers that landed Grave Digger its name.
“I’ll take this old junk and dig your grave with it,” Anderson told his heckling competitors who drove newer, sleeker trucks. Where those guys and their trucks are today, nobody knows. But Grave Digger went on to become one of the most enduring and celebrated of all the Monster Truck personalities, growing to string of some 25 race and display trucks.
The Grave Digger is immediately recognizable with its ominous paint scheme featuring green flames, blood-dripping letters, a foggy graveyard scene with tombstones bearing names of competitors, a haunted house silhouetted by a full moon and a giant skull-shaped ghost. A fan favorite is the set of red headlights that glow menacingly when the truck is in competition. A lucky happenstance, those headlights were. Anderson began using them when he was building a transporter out of a school bus and realized that the red stop lights fit perfectly in Grave Digger’s headlights.
In celebration of its 30 years in the mud ring, the 2012 Advance Auto Parts Monster Jam season will tour three new Grave Digger monster truck designs and has released a full line of exclusive limited edition “Grave Digger 30th Anniversary” merchandise including a retrospective DVD. Monster Jam fans can get up close to the newly designed Grave Digger versions as part of the Monster Jam pre-show Party in the Pits.
Got any favorite Grave Digger memories over the years? E3 Spark Plugs wants to hear your stories and see your pics. Post them on the E3 Spark Plugs Facebook fan page. And remember to power your own would-be monster truck with E3 truck spark plugs for a stronger, cleaner burn.