In just about every sport nicknames exist. In baseball, there's The Rocket, Big Mac, and The Big Unit. In NASCAR, there is The Intimidator. In the sport of desert racing, the nicknames are a little different. Instead of nicknaming the driver, the vehicles receive the name, and this is true of James M. Hall's -- of James Gang Racing Products in Perris, California, -- Class 8 Ford F-150. Pinned with the name El Lobo Negro from the locals of Estero Beach, Mexico, in the late '90s, the name, which means The Black Wolf, has stuck with the truck ever since.
For more than 20 years, James M. Hall has been involved in a variety of off-road racing spectrums. From desert to short course, James has raced it or built something to compete in it. So with all of his experience, it's the masterpiece on these pages you see.
Starting in 1998, James and the Gang set forth on a project vehicle that could compete in short course races and still be able to handle the unpredictable terrain of the desert. To start, a frame from a '72 Ford F-150 was stripped down to the bare metal and reinforced to handle the beatings of short-course and desert racing.
With the frame reinforced, the sock front I-beam suspension was next on the list. James engineered and fabricated a pair of equal length I-beams from 4130 chromoly tubing. The finished product is a front suspension with 24 inches of wheel travel, which is limited to class rules when racing. To absorb the bumps, a 3-inch King coilover and a 3-inch King bypass shock with four adjustment tubes are attached to each side of the front. And each shock uses a remote reservoir for added cooling of the shock fluid.
For the rear of the truck, a classic four-link suspension was fabricated from 4130 chromoly and put into place, providing 36 inches of wheel travel in the rear that is limited to class rules when racing. Similar to the front of the truck, a pair of 3-inch King coilover and bypass shocks handle the shock absorption duties.Next on the list was the rollcage and bumpers. For this, 4130 chromoly tubing was recruited for the task. The result is a full 'cage tied into the frame, with the front and rear bumpers incorporated into the cage itself.
To propel this Wolf across the dirt, Patton Racing Engines built a 430ci Ford V-8 engine at 700 hp. Bolted to the engine is a C6 transmission built by Mogi Transmissions. This is followed by the rearend, which consists of the housing, built by James Gang Racing Products, Chrisman components, and the assembly, performed by Currie Enterprises. This mixture results in a rearend 150 pounds lighter than a standard Chrisman rearend that's sure to perform flawlessly.
Guiding The Wolf across the terrain is a set of Ultra 17x10-inch wheels equipped with bead locks. Wrapped around the wheels are 37x12.50R17 Goodyear Wrangler GSA tires. To help bring the truck to a stop, four-wheel CNC disc brakes with Rapco rotors are mounted behind each.
As stated earlier, the frame is from a '72 Ford. With this in mind, you can imagine how hard it would be to find a fiberglass body resembling the original '72 shell. With that option out, an '02 Ford F-150 body was thrown onto the Class 8 creation, giving it an updated look -- it makes it hard to believe the truck's 30-years-old. Covering the fiberglass is a custom sprayed black paintjob performed by James Gang Racing Products.
The finished product took a little more than a year to build, but some additional time was needed to fine-tune The Wolf into the machine you see here. In 2001, James drove The Black Wolf to the MDR class points championship.
Unfortunately, James isn't racing the truck this year. With the opening of his new shop in Perris, James and the Gang are working hard at providing some of the best off-road racing products out on the market. But not to worry; once the business end is off and running, we're sure to hear the chants of El Lobo Negro down on the beaches of Estero once again.