Author: Craig Perronne Photos: Boyd Jaynes
In almost every form of motorsports, weight is the absolute sworn enemy of every aspect of performance. It robs acceleration, detracts from braking and has negative effects on cornering. Race teams often spend countless sums in attempts to shave off what, to many, may seem like trivial amounts of mass in an attempt to gain any competitive edge possible. That weight-reducing thought process often gets a bit lost in the Dirt Sports Nation. More brutal than any other form of racing, heavy-duty components are the norm and usually that means more weight. Most racers will gladly add heft to a racecar with a part that they know will get them to the finish rather than save weight with a lighter version that might not. However, that can be a bit like opening up Pandora’s Box, as more mass requires even more horsepower, which in turn requires even stouter parts, making for what can sometimes be a never-ending spiral. Looking to build something unique utilizing some out-of-the-box thinking, Brenthel Industries took a radically different approach to building their new 7200 with weight reduction as a key focus. With the only restrictions of the class being an 85-inch track width and a V6 engine, their minds were free to wander. What Brenthel came up with was a blend of their Class 1 and 10 chassis with a special front suspension that weighs in a full 1,000 lbs. lighter than more conventional truck designs. The huge reduction in weight brings with it obvious benefits. “This thing stops on a dime and there is nothing that stops like it,” explains Jonathan Brenthel. “There is nothing that corners like it or turns like it and it is a huge advantage. In the extremely rough stuff it is just as fast if not faster than the big 7200 trucks, but will corner and brake better than them. We are really excited about how fast it is.” Perhaps the biggest benefit of the svelte racer, and one that was part of the design from the beginning, is that there is no longer a need for an extremely built, exotic and expensive race engine. Instead a stock V6 from a late-model Chevy Camaro is used, but don’t think the Brenthel racer is underpowered. Using a transaxle instead of an automatic it puts plenty of power to the ground and, with its lack of mass, will actually accelerate harder than the majority of 7200s. Replacing an exotic engine with a stock one significantly cuts cost, and with Brenthel Industries able to meld existing designs, costs were even further reduced. “7200s are around $250,000 or so, and this was originally an idea to make a very cost-effective, prep-efficient vehicle. This one is just over $100,000 out the door, and the prep costs are also a lot less on it,” notes Brenthel. With some outside-the-box thinking and design work, Brenthel Industries was able to create an ultra-lightweight 7200 and follow the same path of Ecotec-powered Class 10s by utilizing an affordable and reliable stock engine offering significant cost savings. The unique concept, coupled with its beautiful construction and high build quality made it an easy choice for Masterpiece In Metal.
While the racer blends parts of their Class 1 and 10 chassis, Brenthel Industries created a new front suspension that is specific to the 7200. The dual A-arms help meet the 85-inch maximum track width rule of the class along with being fully boxed for strength. The design cycles 20 inches of wheel movement controlled via a King three-tube 3.0 bypass shock and a 2.5 coilover. Found at the end of the Brenthel Industries handcrafted spindles are hubs, 12-inch rotors and four-piston calipers, all from Jamar. Visible resting just behind the skidplate is a Fortin 2.5-inch steering rack.
One of the more unique aspects of the Brenthel Industries 7200 is its engine, a 3.6L Chevrolet V6 sourced from the latest generation Camaro. While its 350 horsepower and 290 lb-ft of torque may seem slight when compared to the bigger and more exotic race V6s of other 7200s, the Brenthel racer weighs significantly less, giving it a similar power-to-weight ratio. There is also minimal power loss through the use of a transaxle and carefully chosen components that are stout enough without being overkill and robbing horsepower. The best part of the CBM Motorsports engine package is that with everything (engine, wiring, electronics, etc.) the total cost is around $8,000, a significant savings when compared to the $35,000 engines found in other 7200s. It also can run all season without being touched, and uses pump gas!
Left: Compared to an automatic, the PBS five-speed sequential offers more gears keeping the 3.6L V6 in the proper RPM range while also getting more horsepower to the rear tires. Right:Beautiful welds and construction are found throughout the Brenthel Industries 7200 chassis.
In the rear, Brenthel Industries trailing arms are used to provide 20 inches of wheel travel. A similar shock package to the front is also utilized with King 2.5 coilovers and 3.0 three-tube bypass shocks controlling movement. Jamar hubs, 12-inch rotors and four-piston calipers are also found in the rear. Visible behind the suspension is a PBS five-speed sequential transaxle built by Rancho Transaxles. It puts the maximum amount of power to the ground with minimal parasitic loss through 934 CVs and 33-spline 300M axles.
Inside of the 7200 is found a CAD-designed and laser cut aluminum dash built by Brenthel Industries that houses Livorsi and Auto Meter gauges. Twisted Stitch TS1 seats with Crow harnesses keep the occupants secure while vehicle interaction occurs via a Momo steering wheel and PBS shifter. Navigation is aided by a Lowrance HDS7 GPS unit, and a PCI race radio and intercom system handles communications.
Behind the grill are found a host of Rigid Industries LED Dually lights that provide enough illumination for nighttime running. Another Rigid Industries 40-inch lightbar can be attached to the top of the cab for even more lumens.
Weighing only 3,400 pounds full of fuel and race ready with an independent rear suspension, the Brenthel Industries 7200 is very “racy” and stops, accelerates and corners extremely well. A shrunken version of Brenthel’s Trophy-Truck body covers the chassis as well as the 35-inch General Grabbers on 15x7-inch Method beadlocks.
POWERTRAIN Engine: 3.6L Chevrolet V6
BUILDER: CBM Motorsports MAX Horsepower: 350 horsepower MAX Torque: 290 lb-ft
MODIFICATIONS Stock engine prepped by CBM INDUCTION: UMP air filtration system, stock fuel injection TRANSAXLE: PBS five-speed sequential by Rancho Transaxles
SUSPENSION Front: Brenthel Industries-designed dual A-arms with 20 inches of wheel travel, King 3.0 three-tube bypass shocks and King 2.5 coilovers, Jamar hubs REAR: Brenthel Industries trailing arms with 20 inches of wheel travel, King 3.0 three-tube bypass shocks and King 2.5 coilovers, Jamar hubs COOLING: PRC radiators and double-pass coolers, SPAL fans WIRING: Brenthel Industries BRAKES: Front:Jamar four-piston calipers and 12-inch rotors Rear:Jamar four-piston calipers and 12-inch rotors WHEELS/TIRES WHEELS: Method Race Wheels 15x7 beadlocks TIRES: 35x12.50R15 General Tire Grabbers
BODYWORK: Brenthel Industries 7200 fiberglass body
INTERIOR: Brenthel Industries aluminum dash, Livorsi and Auto Meter gauges, PCI race radio and intercom, Lowrance GPS unit, Momo steering wheel, Twisted Stitch seats, Crow harnesses CHASSIS: Brenthel Industries 7200 DIMENSIONS: Wheelbase: 118 inches Overall Length: 170 inches Overall Height: 73 inches Track Width: 85 inches Overall Weight: 3,400 lbs.