Trophy Trucks: Modifying for movement, speed

James Raia

Trophy Trucks are highly modified and can cost $500,000.

Trophy trucks race in the highest class of off-road competition and have one goal — moving fast in the desert.

But the high speed doesn’t mean barreling down a straight, well-paved asphalt road. Rather, trophy truck racing is contested on the craziest terrain found in the off-road realm — deserts to similarly rugged regions.

Trophy Trucks are highly modified and can cost $500,000.

Trophy Trucks are not street legal. Instead, they’re designed for intentionally enduring intense punishment in brutal conditions.

The Trophy Truck racing class was introduced in 1994, and the name is appropriate. The machines are automotive works of art. And to compete at the premier level, small adjustments to stock are nowhere near enough.

Modifications in a truck’s suspension, shock absorption, power train and the chassis all required. The result increases the speed cap, allowing trucks to race to of are at more than 120 miles per hour.

Although there are variants, trophy trucks are often two-wheel drive and are embellished from a tube frame 4130 Chromoly steel chassis. It’s covered by an aerodynamically engineered composite body. Four-wheel drive trucks are also an option.

Typically, Ford or Chevrolet V8 powertrains are used, and trophy trucks can generate more 900 BHP and 900lb/foot of torque in the naturally aspirated engines. Turbo-charged engines are also used, with spec parameters from 5.0-6.6 liters and two turbo-chargers. Air restrictors are required in turbo-charged engines.

Most trophy trucks use independent A-arm suspension in front and a three or four-link set with a solid rear axle. Various types of independent suspensions area also used. The trucks are equipped with a steel tube roll cage. Trophy truck transmissions are either three-speed automatic or six-speed sequential gearbox.

Trophy truck tires are in integral part of the monster-sized machines. Desert specific tires are required and they vary between manufacturers. Common features include a multi-ply sidewall to prevent cutting or punctures. Tire sizes also vary from 37 to 39 inches. Suspension travel varies depending upon chassis design from around two feet (26 inches) in the front to slightly less than three feet 32 inches of travel in the rear.

The three-speed TH400 gearbox remains popular among competitors because of its long gear ratios and capability of handling the torque spikes. The six-speed sequential gearbox is also popular of the ease of changing gear ratios quickly.

The typical trophy truck costs bout $500,000, although sometimes the price is substantially higher.

But competing in trophy truck race is a lot more than the cost of the truck. The cost to participate in a full season, consider fuel, tires and extra truck parts is approximately $200,000. Further, it can cost as much as $400,000 to maintain a team. Those costs include running several support vehicles.

The irony? While racing a trophy truck is a rich man’s game, winners’ purses are rarely more than $10,000.

Learn more about the modifications built in to help a trophy truck move at high speeds while surviving the wear and tear it is subjected to by checking out the above infographic.

Article Last Updated: March 2, 2017.

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