Author: Craig Perronne Photos: Boyd Jaynes
The infamous Dakar rally has not exactly been a household name here in the United States, and was once almost exclusively the domain of European racers. If one were lucky, the beauty and challenge of racing deep in the heart of Africa might be glimpsed late at night on some odd channel here in the States. Only a few very select Americans attempted it, and for good reason. Just getting a race vehicle, equipment and a crew to Africa from the U.S. was a challenge involving lots of costs and logistics. For European teams, it was a much easier task and many even tested in Africa to prepare for the race. It was little wonder that Europeans absolutely dominated the Dakar.
After the Dakar moved to South America in 2009, the playing field became more level. Nobody was intimately familiar with the terrain, and everyone had to ship vehicles. No longer was there a “home court” advantage and Americans increasingly began to take interest in the epic marathon rally. Not only were more Americans showing up to Dakar, they were increasingly making their mark on it. After becoming the first American to win a Dakar stage in 2005, Robby Gordon showed up with his own team and ran with the top competitors.
No American has ever won the Dakar though, but that might soon change as more professional teams are becoming involved. Helping create more involvement from the USA is the Dakar Challenge program created by the sanctioning body of the Dakar, the ASO. It is directly responsible for the beautifully built Brenthel Industries Dakar racer seen here.
“Our Dakar vehicle came about because of the Dakar Challenge in the SCORE and HDRA series,” explains Jordan Brenthel. “It was a competition to win an entry fee to the Dakar rally. Peter Hajas won first place and the Brenthel 7200 team actually won second. After talking to Peter, we both realized it was such a big challenge that we joined forces. We created a vehicle and tackled the logistics and as a team we are here to take on the Dakar rally.”
After further discussion, Brenthel and Hajas decided they would need to create a brand-new racer to take on the rigors of the Dakar. “We had many options, but we didn’t want to go to the Dakar with something built for the States. We wanted to arrive and have a vehicle that was really tailored to Dakar and had all the features we needed to be competitive and win,” notes Brenthel.
The biggest problem was that by the time the Challenge was won and the decision to build a new vehicle was made, time was at an absolute premium, leading to an insane build schedule. “The time to build the vehicle was very fast,” recalls Jordan. “It was a quick project, and it was 45 days from when we started the chassis with no tubes. We built it, welded it, had it powdercoated and with all the necessary items of any of the racecar builds we do at Brenthel Industries, and here it is turnkey and ready to go.”
Considering that the racer was designed from scratch and then built, all while overcoming such challenges as building a custom body in such a rapid time frame, the results as seen here are amazing. Even if it were a slow build, the Brenthel Dakar racer would still be a beautiful piece of racing engineering. Let’s take a closer look at the latest Made in the USA entrant to the Dakar rally.
The front suspension of the Dakar racer is a blend of the designs that Brenthel Industries has employed on their Class 1, 10 and 7200 vehicles. It employs Brenthel-built dual A-arms and uprights to cycle out to 20 inches of wheel travel. Controlling the movement are a King Racing Shocks 2.5-inch diameter coilovers and 3.0-inch diameter triple bypass shocks. On the outboard end of the suspension are found Jamar hubs and six-piston calipers mated to 12-inch rotors, also from Jamar. Tucked away beneath the front skid plate is a Fortin 2.5-inch steering rack.
Like the front, the rear suspension is also based on Brenthel’s Class 7200, 1 and 10 racers. It also yields the exact same travel as the front through the use of Brenthel-built trailing arms. King Racing Shocks are employed in the rear as well, with a 2.5-inch coilover and 3.5-inch quadruple bypass shock providing bump absorption. Jamar six-piston calipers and 12-inch rotors are found at the end of the arms while GKN 934 CVs transmit power from the PBS four-speed sequential transaxle built by Rancho Transaxles.
Jamar outboard hubs add plenty of strength to the Brenthel Dakar racer, but still help keep it a svelte 3,700 lbs.
Using a V8 means having to deal with a rather small restrictor on the air intake per Dakar rules. To try to get as much horsepower as possible, CBM Motorsports used a LS3 that was bored and stroked and treated to a different cam. While an increase in cubic inches helps produce low-end torque, other modifications can make the engine run out of air, so were kept to a minimum. A Delphi controller and factory fuel injection feed the engine fuel and clean air from twin UMP filters. Once combusted, custom Brenthel Industries-built headers scavenge the spent gasses and push them out through SuperTrapp mufflers. With the restrictor in place, output is limited to 350 horsepower and 340 lb-ft of torque.
The Brenthel racer’s interior may look somewhat Spartan compared to the typical Trophy-Truck here in the States, as no GPS units are allowed in the Dakar rally and radios are also prohibited. Housed inside the Brenthel Industries-built dash are a host of Auto Meter gauges and the necessary switches. Huge distances will be covered by occupants secured to Twisted Stitch TS1 seats by Crow harnesses. The driver rows at a Momo steering wheel making gear selections via a PBS shifter. Visible is the windshield that reduces driver fatigue over the many miles of the Dakar.
The Brenthel Dakar racer weighs in at a svelte 3,700 lbs with Falken Wildpeak A/Ts on Method Race Wheel beadlocks providing traction. The large roof scoop visible on the top of the cab is not to cool the occupants, but forces air through the radiators. A smattering of Rigid Industries LED lights provide illumination for those ultra-long stages.
POWERTRAIN Engine: 415 cubic inch LS3 V8
BUILDER: CBM Motorsports
MAX Horsepower: 350 horsepower
MAX Torque: 340 lb-ft
MODIFICATIONS: Bored and stroked by CBM, custom camshaft INDUCTION: 37mm intake restrictor, Twin UMP air filters, Mephi fuel injection TRANSAXLE: PBS four-speed sequential built by Rancho Transaxles
SUSPENSION Front: Brenthel Industries designed dual A-arms with 20 inches of wheel travel, King Racing Shocks 2.5-inch coilovers and 3.0-inch triple bypass shocks
REAR: Brenthel Industries designed trailing arms with 20 inches of wheel travel, King Racing Shocks 2.5-inch coilovers and 3.0-inch quadruple bypass shocks Cooling Brenthel Industries radiator and fans WIRING Brenthel Industries BRAKES: Front:Jamar six-piston calipers with Jamar 12-inch rotors REAR: Jamar six-piston calipers with Jamar 12-inch rotors WHEELS/TIRES WHEELS: Method Race Wheels 15x8-inch beadlocks TIRES: 35x12.50R15 Falken Wildpeak A/T
BODYWORK: Brenthel Industries Dakar body built by Fiberwerx
Paint/Graphics: Vinyl wrap by Gator Wraps in Brenthel team colors
INTERIOR: Twisted Stitch TS1 seats, Crow Harnesses, Momo steering wheel, PBS shifter, Auto Meter gauges, Brenthel Industries built aluminum dash
CHASSIS: Brenthel Industries Dakar Racer DIMENSIONS: Wheelbase: 118 inches Overall Length: 200 inches Overall Height: 58 inches Track Width: 85 inches Overall Weight: 3,700 lbs.