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1987 Ford Ranger - Storm Trooper

Posted in Features on June 1, 2002 Comment (0)
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For the love of off-road, so many people dedicate everything they have to off-road racing. The passion you put into the sport is part of what makes it what it is. Jamie Campbell of San Clemente, California, is an example of someone earning his way to being a piece of the jigsaw puzzle that is the off-road racing community. Big pieces and small pieces, the sport would not be the same without the passion of all the pieces put together, building a community of recreation.

Twenty-six-year-old Jamie found his way into the sport of off-roading through his family pastime of riding motorcycles. The memorable experiences he had as a child helped keep his interest in the sport through adulthood. At the ripe, young age of 16, he entered his first SCORE race on a motorcycle. From that point on, he has yet to miss a year of off-road racing. In the mid Nineties, he and his brother were American Honda's duo to beat at any of the prestigious desert motorcycle races. To this day, his brother John remains at the top of the Honda squad, dominating desert racing around the world. While his brother stays set on racing bikes, Jamie looked to race in greener pastures. It didn't take him long to realize how much more fun it was to strap into an '87 Ford Ranger for hundreds of miles rather than fight to hang on a twist throttle while skipping across the desert.

Similar to many off-road projects on a budget, this truck is a work in progress. This is no problem for off-road enthusiasts, the racing sanctioning bodies provide a plethora of categories for the dynamic trucks. From street-legal to fully modified, an off-road enthusiast can race wherever their bank account permits. In 2000, Jamie competed in the Stock Mini-Truck Class and won the MDR series championship. In 2001, he took a year off of racing his own truck to develop it into the next level of mini-truck desert racing. Spending an entire year modifying his truck in 2001, it's ready to take on this year's Class 7s SCORE season. The upgrades began when he hooked up with longtime friend Jake Batulis. Together, they have balanced the duties of running the fabrication shop, Prep by Jake, and building the new race truck.

The class rules limit the rear suspension to the stock configuration, which consists of a pair of leaf springs supporting a solid axle. Luckily, the rules put no limit on the type of springs or rearend to be used. Out with the old and in with the new gusseted 9-inch rearend complete with 40-spline axles - quite an upgrade from the stock unit. Mounting up to it was a longer-travel Deaver spring pack, bumping the wheel travel up to the rule limit of 16 inches. The new higher-arched, faster-responding springs are kept under control by a 3-inch-diameter King racing shock on each wheel. Jamie went the extra mile and purchased the shocks with the added feature of three bypass tubes on each shock. These bypass tubes make suspension tuning a breeze, providing position-sensitive rebound and compression adjustability.

Up front, the classic highly sought-after twin I-beam suspension system was used. The stock solid beams were simply reinforced with chrome-moly gussets to withstand the abuse of off-road racing. Although the suspension system is capable of travel as much as 25 inches in some cases, Jamie is limited to a mere 12 inches by the rule book to keep the Ford equal to all the A-arm-equipped mini-trucks. The race-proven King shocks were used up front, allowing the mighty Ranger to eat up the deepest whoop sections.

The 4.0L V-6 engine was left pretty much stock for its proven reliability under harsh conditions. A port job was performed on the heads by Bob McKray to clean up the rough edges and to get the fuel flowing faster. The air is kept clean by a Unique Metal Products air cleaner inside to cab. The jet-like filtration system earns its keep in the desert, giving the codriver the ability to drain the dirt without stopping. As a former employee of Bassani, there was no question what exhaust he would use. Jamie had the stainless exhaust thermal-coated at Embee, then it was dyno tested. The new system squeezed another 20 ponies out of the six-cylinder.

Stopping the 3,600-pound race truck is no problem with the four-wheel disc brakes. The truck combines a CNC pedal assembly with a Wilwood four piston caliper on each wheel. Traction is never an issue with the 35x12.50-17 Goodyear MT Race tires rolling through any terrain.

Since his crossover from racing motorcycles, Jamie has realized how much he enjoys creating as much as he does competing, "You know, I could throw a bike together in a week and be ready for Baja, but with the truck it takes so much more. There is so much more to appreciate about a truck over a bike." With an open invitation to go back to racing bikes from his brother, Jamie has no interest, but instead dreams to follow in the footsteps of some of off-road racing's four-wheel transplants, such as Dan Smith and Ricky Johnson. Between his attitude and his desert racing resume, it seems that Jamie has all the ingredients to accomplish whatever he wants in the desert.

SPECIFICATIONS
Owner/hometown Jamie Campbell/San Clemente, California
Make/model Ford/'87-{{{2000 Ranger}}} 2WD
Engine 4.0L V-6 by Bob McKray
Transmission C4 by Brian Westlin
Suspension I-beam (front), Deaver leaf spring (rear)
Shocks King 3-inch
Wheels/tires Alcoa 17x8-inch/Goodyear 35x12.5-17 MT Race
Additional features Auto Meter gauges; Bassani exhaust; CNC
brakes; Duralast batteries; PRP seats; PBJ fuel
cell; S-line seatbelts and limit straps

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