Over the years, we've been able to meet some pretty cool people and see some pretty cool trucks. One guy and his truck have always stood out to us, and that's Frank Gilliland and his solid axle Toyota race truck out of Hawthorne, California. Frank grew up in the service bays of a Willy's dealership that his dad owned, and we've not met someone else with as much drivetrain knowledge as Frank has packed in his head. You might recognize his name from a number of stories that he's contributed to in the past. His insight and practical knowledge of drivetrains has become an integral tool when we're stumped and out of answers here at the office.
A few years back, Frank got this wild plan to build the 1985 Baja 1000 Class 7S 4x4 winner. Bill Wright Toyota in Bakersfield, California, originally had taken the truck directly off its showroom floor and built it into a race truck to enter the Baja race with. After its original racing glory, 4 Wheel Parts Wholesalers bought the truck from the Toyota dealer. Then Frank purchased the truck in 1988, and it sat for a number of years. While it may have been a winning truck more than two decades ago, it was far past its prime, and was more of a cool piece of nostalgia than a race vehicle. But Frank wasn't looking to keep it as a museum piece; he wanted to race it in MDR.
With the help of Link Motorsports and the support of a lot of Ben Franklins, Frank turned this truck into a competitive solid axle racer once more. It might sound like spinal suicide to go race a solid front axle truck in Class 7S these days, but tell that to Frank and his crew who took home the MDR 7S overall championship in 2007 and 2009. We're not sure if that was a result of a superior truck or just one determined driver. Either way, we're stoked that Frank did so well and wish him luck in future racing endeavors.
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1983 Toyota Xtra Cab Race Truck
Frank Gilliland/Hawthorne, California
Chassis: Toyota frame with Link Motorsports added caging and bumpers
LC Engineering 22R with dual side draft carburetors, LCE header, 10:1 compression pistons,
Five-speed manual transmission from late-model turbo Toyota, Powertain Industries driveshaft, Toyota front axle, Ford 9-inch rear with Detroit locker and 31-spline Currie shafts, 5.29:1 gear ratio
Deaver leaf packs at all corners, Sway-A-Away 3.0 shocks in front, dual Fox 2.5 shocks in rear, Energy Suspension bumpstops
Toyota front, Currie disc brake kit in rear
BFGoodrich 33x12.50R15 Baja T/A tires on Circle Racing 15x8 beadlocks
Suspension seats with five-point harnesses, PCI race radio, Parker Pumper, Lowrance 7-inch GPS
Fiberglass front fenders and bedsides, three Hella 4000 lights, two Pro Comp 100 lights, aluminum scoop with dual tranny coolers, dual Optima Yellow Top batteries
Favorite Off-Road Area:
MDR race courses