Dave Pasanella on the cover of the August, 1987
issue of Powerlifting USA magazine.
"If I remember it right, it was a Tuesday morning when I got the call from Dave Pasanella. He was about to begin his training to set a new squat record in the
275-pound class at Gus Rethwisch’s Hawaiian Classic Invitational and Dave was tired of messing around with the barbells that were available at the time.
Dave was calling to ask if I could design and build for him a special bar that would handle in
excess of 1,000 pounds without flexing or whipping. As Dave was a very big guy, and since it was not exactly easy to wedge himself into a normal-sized barbell, at the top of his wish list for this new bar was an increase in the width between the collars.
Immediately I remembered a special steel used for
bulldozer drive shafts from my days working for my dad’s excavating
business, and thought that it would be a perfect material for this new barbell. The "dead" feeling of the bar due to this special steel, was and is an
extremely important feature when working with limit weights in the
squat which, of course, Dave would be handling.
The blueprint that I eventually drew up had an increased bar diameter of 1-1/4 inches, an additional six inches inside the collars, and longer sleeves to accommodate more weight.
Having witnessed Lee Moran’s catastrophic squat attempt at 1,003 pounds
where one outside collar blew off, weight plates slid all over the place, and the whole mess
scattered around the Senior National’s platform, it was clear a positive collar-locking
mechanism was needed.
Taking my design to Bob Johnson in the R & D shop of Universal Gym, we built the first Pasanella Bar prototype. The sleeves had a
series of 7/16-inch-diameter holes running along the linear axis, one
inch apart. The collar itself had a knurled spinner to tighten against the
plates, with a heavy spring-loaded plunger that dropped into the holes and locked everything into place.
Dave was pleased with the results and this system
worked very well. Dave took the bar with him to Hawaii. in fact, I made him a carrying case out of PVC pipe and he took the bar on the plane with him as checked luggage!
At the meet, Dave
squatted 1,032 pounds, at 275 pounds body weight, in front of three international judges. As the bar was
thicker, longer, and heavier than all the other power bars in the world, some
lifters cried foul but Dave graciously allowed that anyone who wanted to could use
the bar. Gus sanctioned it for his meet, and a sample bar was sent to England
with the recommendation that it be sanctioned by the International Powerlifting
Federation. Ultimately the bar, which became known as the Pasanella Bar, was approved by the IPF for the 242-pound, 275-pound,
305-pound, and unlimited classes.
Unfortunately, Dave was killed in a car accident just off campus
in Atlanta a short while later. Dave was a great guy, a terrific friend, and totally world-class in
every way. His work at GT was carried on by his assistant Jim Lathrop, a
top-notch guy in his own right."
So, now you know most of the story behind the Pasanella Bar aka "The World's BADDEST barbell." All that is left is the grand unveiling (we're talking pictures, a LOT of pictures, specs, details and anything else you would possibly want to know about it), which is at last coming your way next...
Our story so far: