Many of the world's great masterpieces began as small wonders before being molded into what they are today. Or they began as one thing and ended up as another. The same theory applies to the creation of this SCORE/MDR-series race truck. Originally, the idea that Matt Thomas and his friend Josh Barritt of Oakley, California, had in mind was to build a simple prerunner that would allow them to watch the races from a better location than anyone else on the course. Yet, as soon as they attended one race, they were hooked, and off they went to build a full-scale Class-7 Open racer.
Fabricators by profession, both Matt and Josh began with a stock two-wheel-drive '88 Ford Ranger. With the interior gutted and all the stock body panels and the trim removed, the team began their soon-to-be work of art. In order to be sure that they would make the next race of the series, the stock 3.8L V-6 engine was removed and sent to Mean Machine of Concord, California, where it would be bored 0.030 inches over and fit with a dazzling array of aftermarket goodies including Keith Black forged pistons, a custom-ground Cal-Cam camshaft, and Manley stainless valves. For carburetion duties, a custom blueprinted and balanced Holley 500-cfm carb replaced the stock unit. When all was said and done, 250 ponies were sitting under the fiberglass hood just waiting to run.
The stock C4 automatic transmission was also treated to some specialty items, courtesy of A-1 Transmission of Brentwood, California. An Art Carr shifter ensured the proper gear choice and shift pattern for the truck. The Ford 9-inch rearend was assembled by NHRA legend Wayne Torkelson. Torkelson and his team added a Strange spool in the back along with Richmond Gear 5.43 gears. Together the components guarantee traction on any type of terrain. Because of the added stress on the driveline, Josh and Matt called upon Driveline Service in Concord to strengthen and balance the stock unit. The stopping chores for the truck are the responsibility of the four-wheel disc brakes that were installed by Josh and Matt. To keep its cool in the hot desert races, a plethora of electric cooling fans and radiators make the high temperatures dissipate, all thanks to Beko Radiators, also of Concord.
Just as they had planned, by the time the engine was completed, it would be installed into a totally new truck. The suspension had been built by Josh and Matt in the interim. Choosing to build their own custom I-beam setup for the front, using 4130 chrome-moly tubing, the team was able to achieve 17 inches of front wheel travel. Of course the ride is like floating on air thanks to the 3-inch-bodied King coilover shocks, which reside at each corner of the rig. The rear suspension is good for 20 inches of travel because of the custom-fabricated National Spring leaf springs and the custom-made hangers. To prevent the axle from twisting, custom-made dual track bars were also installed.
As it is with any race vehicle, safety is the number one factor. The importance of safety is what prompted Matt and Josh to tube the entire frame and interior with 2-inch OD mild steel tubing. Also figured into the safety equation were the five-point Simpson race harnesses, which are attached to the Beard racing seats and the PCI race radio for the team to stay in contact with each other for support. To minimize the dust and debris while racing, the truck was outfitted with two Simpson helmets and a Parker Pumper air system.
Rounding out their masterpiece, Matt applied the incredible American flag paint scheme that graces the rig. Since its birth as a race vehicle, the truck has won several races. With more than a year of time invested into its completion and the countless dollars spent (none of which the owner wants to calculate), it just goes to prove that everything wants to be something. In this case, it was a stock Ranger that wanted to become something better - and it just so happened that it got its wish - explaining why we see stars every time this truck flies past.
|Builder||:||Matt Thomas and Josh Barritt with Immortal Motorsports Racing|
|Make/model||:||Ford Ranger, 2WD, standard cab|
|Suspension travel (in)||:||17 (front), 20 (rear)|
|Fuel cell||:||35-gallon fuel safe|
|Suspension||:|| Custom-fabricated I-beam system, front; National Spring leaf springs and |
custom-fabricated hangers, rear
|Shocks||:||Coilovers; fully adjustable by King|
|Transmission||:||Stock Ford four-speed with Overdrive; Art Carr shifter|
|Engine||:||Stock Ford 3.8L V-6|
|Other||:||Earl’s stainless braided lines and hoses; Willwood disc brakes; Beard seats; |
Simpson harnesses and helmets; Precision Gear gears; Parker Pumper system
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