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2002 GMC Sierra - Airborne Assault - Off-Road Race Truck

Posted in Features on February 1, 2003 Comment (0)
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2002 GMC Sierra - Airborne Assault - Off-Road Race Truck

We've all heard the expression "When cows fly" at least once in our life. It's usually said to describe something that is unbelievable, and that's exactly what this Class 8 truck driven by Nick Vanderwey of Buckeye, Arizona, is: unbelievable.

To help get everyone caught up, Class 8 used to be the premiere class in desert racing until the induction of the unlimited Trophy Truck class that now catches most of the fans' attention. And although the Class 8 vehicles are not technically Trophy Trucks, you will soon see they are just as impressive and capable, just like Nick's '02 GMC Sierra.

As with any desert race vehicle, you need to have a design to start with, and Nick was the perfect man for the job. Before Nick and his brothers decided to get into the family business of dairy farming, Nick used to work as a mechanical engineer for the military. With his engineering background, Nick was well on his way toward the final design.

With his design complete, Nick needed a fabricator to shift his plans from paper to an actual truck. Steven Arlia of Arlia's Precision Fabrication ended up being called in to handle the meticulous job. To comply with the rules and Nick's design, a GMC Sierra frame was enrolled for the base of the Class 8 truck. Following Nick's plans, Steven created the front A-arm suspension out of TIG-welded 1.5-inch 4130 chromoly tubing and Geiser Brothers Design and Development's custom spindles. The front suspension is good for 20 inches of wheel travel. In the rear, the classic four-link suspension designed by Nick was fabricated and installed, producing 26 inches of wheel travel. For safety, Steven fabricated the full rollcage according to Nick's plans out of 1.75-inch 4130 chromoly tubing. In case of a rollover, Nick and co-driver Larry Vanderwey are well protected.

It's no secret the desert has some pretty rough terrain. To help ease the rough ride, 3-inch King bypass shocks and 2.5-inch coilover shocks are mounted to each corner of the Sierra. Fox 6-inch bumpstops, also mounted at each corner, help out on suspension compression. To fine-tune the suspension, the great off-roader racer Curt LeDuc of California Pre-Fun was employed for the fine-tuning. His vast knowledge and experience brought the various suspension components into harmony, allowing the Class 8 to achieve maximum speed over the rough desert terrain.

For power, this Sierra uses a 428ci Chevy small-block V-8 built by Steve Roehlk of HTS Race Engines in Gilbert, Arizona. The custom-built powerplant utilizes aluminum heads, an Isky cam, and an MSD ignition. Handling the flow of the exhaust from the engine is a pair of Rob McCabe headers that dump into the dual 3-inch exhaust system that sports MagnaFlow mufflers. The finished product produces 700 hp, 600 lb-ft of torque, and a top speed of 135 mph.

Bolted to the rear of the 428 is a Turbo 400 transmission equipped with a Road Runner torque converter built by Jeff Krueger of Racing Transmissions in Phoenix. A custom-designed driveshaft built by Fleet Pride connects the transmission to the Chrisman 10-inch rearend equipped with 5.43:1 gears. Propelling the GMC through the desert is a set of 37x12.50R17 BFGoodrich Projects wrapped around 17x8-inch APP wheels.

To cover Nick's creation, an '02 GMC Sierra fiberglass body from Trailer Products in Hemet, California, is mounted over the truck. Covering the fiberglass is white paint and black spots, yielding the trucks's nickname, "Got Milk."

So far, the "Got Milk" truck has finished the last 13 of 15 races entered. Among those finishes include two Baja 500 victories, a Baja 1000 victory, and a Primm 300 victory. Currently, Nick has the 2002 Class 8 points lead, with one race left in the season. With this reliable truck and the help of his brothers Larry, John, and Mike, Nick will surely be spending plenty of time in the winner's circle.

SPECIFICATIONS
Owner/driver/hometown : Nick Vanderwey/Buckeye, Arizona
Co-driver/hometown : Larry Vanderwey/Litchfield Park, Arizona
Year/make/model : '02 GMC Sierra
Sponsors : BFGoodrich ties; HTS Race Engines; Arlia's
    Precision Fabrication; 4 Wheelers Supply; Jeff
    Krueger Racing Transmissions; Courtesy
    {{{Chevrolet}}} of Phoenix; National Rod ends; Tim's
    {{{Buick}}}, {{{Pontiac}}}, GMC of Prescott, Arizona; Road
    Runner Converters; VP Racing Fuels
Engine/builder : 428ci Chevy V-8/Steve Roehlk of HTS
Transmission/builder : Turbo 400/Jeff Krueger Racing Transmissions
Top speed : 135 mph
Maximum horsepower : 700
Maximum torque : 600 lb-ft
Rearend : Chrisman 10-inch with 5.43:1 gears
Suspension : Front: A-arm with 20 inches of travel;
    rear: four-link with 26 inches of travel
Shocks : Front and rear: King 3-inch bypass and
    2.5-inch coilover; Fox 6-inch bumpstops
Wheels/tires : APP 17x8 inch/BFGoodrich Projects
    37x12.50R17
Fuel cell/capacity : ATL/65 gallons
Weight : 5,000 pounds
Additional features : MSD ignition; {{{Optima}}} batteries; Isky
    camshaft; Hella lights; Trailer Products
    fiberglass; Mastercraft seats; Pyrotect
    seatbelts; VP racing fuel

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