Monster Profile: Brian Barthel

Brian Barthel - Little Tiger - Monster ProfileBrian Barthel has over ten years of experience driving monster trucks. Barthel won the 2003 World Racing Championship driving Wolverine. Back behind the wheel of his original Little Tiger truck, Barthel was kind enough to sit down with Robert Haught to discuss his newest creation, Total Chaos.

Robert Haught – We understand that you have two new race chassis in development, one for Little Tiger, and a second one will be a new truck called Total Chaos. What can you tell us about that?

Brian Barthel – That’s right. Our new deal is that we’ll have two new in house chassis; we’re actually still working on them right now to have them ready for the first quarter of 2005. They’re identical trucks and have universal cages. They’ll take either body at any time.

Little Tiger Racing

(Photo By: Robert Haught)

BB – We’re retiring the original Little Tiger chassis that I drive right now; it’s ten years old. We’re going to keep it around the shop for testing purposes and sponsor ride experiences. Everyone wants a ride experience at different displays, and I don’t like making one of the trucks I race in a full-blown ride truck. If the people want to have a ride experience, now I’ll just bring the old chassis along. That way, if anything goes wrong with it, we still have our race trucks ready to go. It’s a good, sound truck, it’s just that it’s ten years old and I’ve tortured it long enough (laughs). It’s ready to be retired.


Brian Barthel Little Tiger rollover

A prime example of Brian Barthel "torturing" Little Tiger, as he rolls over backwards in Minneapolis. (Photo By: Robert Haught)

RH – What can you tell us about Total Chaos’ paint scheme?

BB – There really is no paint scheme. It’s just a bunch of really bright, loud colors scattered about the whole truck. It’s something different that we came up with right in our own shop.

RH – Was the idea for Total Chaos yours, or someone else’s? What is behind the name?

BB – Actually, we were in Peoria, IL, and I was down there with Andrew Felix, one of Clear Channel’s show coordinators. We were looking at Ragin’ Steel, and it just has some lettering on it. It’s kind of plain, and just a truck. Andrew said, “You know what would be cool? If someone had a ‘Total Chaos’ truck,” and I said, “I’ll tell you what, when I get all my deals buttoned down, I’ll build it.” He asked me what I would do with it, and I said, “Let me do the designing!” He shot the name out and I said I’d run it, that it was my deal. He was all good with everything, and I designed it. He was the first guy to see the pictures of the design, and he really liked it.

RH – So you actually designed the whole paint job and everything?

BB – Right, everything. It ended up working out really well.

Ameriquest Freedom

New driver Troy DuBose has gained some seatime in AmeriQuest Freedom and Ragin Steel before driving the new Total Chaos. (Photo By: Robert Haught)

RH – What can you tell us about Total Chaos’ new driver, Troy DuBose?

BB – Troy has actually worked with monster trucks for four or five years as a Tech Official on that end of things. He decided that he would like to get with a race team and learn the trucks, learn how to fix them, and drive. It’s the chance of a lifetime, and that’s what he is saying now. We’ve talked about it for about two years now, and working out details. At that time I was driving Wolverine, and I had to make sure everything was good and everyone was happy after that was done. He’s driven a bit this summer, when we ran the AmeriQuest and Ragin’ Steel bodies.

RH – Why did you decide to put him in Total Chaos?

BB – Well, the deal is, I have a new driver, I have a new truck, and I’m going to give him his own identity. If Total Chaos is a big success, then it will be a success because of the way Troy drives it. Wolverine was a success because of the way I drove it, and the same with Little Tiger, so I’m going to give him all the chances and all the options that I had when I first started.

RH – How do you feel Troy is doing so far in the truck?

BB – He’s doing good; he was monster trucks on the other side of things for five years and saw what people like Tom, Dennis, myself, and others have done and the crazy stuff we can pull off. He is like any new driver-they watch and watch, and then go out and try to do what they see done. People need to make their own style and figure out what they can and cannot land, instead of saying, “OK, I saw this guy do it, and I know I can do it.” Well, some guys can and some guys can’t. There have been a few mix-ups and a rollover already, and a bunch of broken parts, but that’s racing. It’s mechanical and things will break.

RH – What will you change for the way the two new trucks are set up? Will you try and utilize some of the experiences you had driving Little Tiger and Wolverine for those trucks?

BB – The two new trucks are hopefully everything I’ve learned in ten years rolled into them. The engine placement is different, the shock placement is different, and a lot of the problem areas we’ve had will be fixed up. Everything’s different that I could remember causing me grief over the years. I have no idea if they will end up working. Do I hope they work? I hope they work the way they should, but I can’t say they will. If for some reason it doesn’t act and perform the way I want it to, then I’ll go home and get my other truck and drive it. That’s why I am going to keep the old chassis around, besides for the ride experience. We’ll do some field testing with it in the spring, too.

Brian Barthel Little Tiger

(Photo By: Robert Haught)

RH – So you consider it a big advantage to have a backup truck?

BB – Yeah, just to have a backup plan. The jumps are getting bigger, trucks are breaking, and we’re running back-to-back weekends a lot. If we have a bad wreck and a lot of miles to go, maybe it will be more convenient to go get the old truck. It would work for either Troy or me because of how the bodies are, so it will be good that way.

RH – Is there anything else you’d like to add or say to the fans?

BB – We have a whole new outlook this year. It’s basically a brand new, fresh race team. We have new trucks, new equipment, an old name, and now a new name, so we’ll see how it goes. Hopefully the fans will be receptive to the new truck. I got a lot of comments from people asking where Wolverine was, but I get just as many now from people glad to see me back in Little Tiger, telling me that the truck wasn’t the same without me in it. Hopefully we’ll be able to keep everyone happy and on the edge of their seat, and keep doing shows.

Brian Barthel Little Tiger Wheelie

Always a strong performer, Brian Barthel and Little Tiger are looking forward to big things with the new truck. (Photo By: Robert Haught)

RH – With the new chassis, you must have a certain goal in your mind. Do you have a plan for reclaiming your Racing World Champion title?

BB – Yes, that’s exactly why I’m building the new trucks. There’s a lot of new technology and moving things around in the truck so it will corner better. From there, we’ll take it to the Monster Jam World Finals. Everyone that races a monster truck races for that reason. I’ve already won it once so I know what it feels like, but I want to do it again! would like to thank Brian Barthel for his time and support.

About Robert Haught

Robert Haught has been a fan of monster trucks since age 3 and now works with them in nearly every capacity possible, from designing web sites to crew work to photography and more. Always available to help any team in the industry; he can be reached at 513-383-9293.

Speak Your Mind