The number 32 is not only Matt’s UTV race number, it’s the year his father was born.
Author: Jordan Powell Photos: Icon Media
THE DOWNLOAD No matter how hard you try, some things just don’t seem to go the way you want them to. In most cases though, that’s not always a bad thing. Matt Parks will say the same. When Parks first envisioned racing the NORRA Mexican 1000, he had hopes of finding a mid-1970s to early ‘80s two-seat buggy. However, after months of browsing the web, Parks was left with nothing but a headache. When all hope seemed to be lost, this 1973 Ford F-100 crossed Matt’s path. “I wasn’t really looking for a truck, but the pictures looked cool and the best part was that the truck was original and wasn’t all hacked up,” said Parks. That’s all it took to sway him away from that two-seat buggy.\
Sometimes, though, things can be almost too good to be true, and Parks found this out first hand as he started to rip this classic apart. “I thought to myself that we could just do some major prep work, and we would be off to the NORRA 1000. However, it was kind of like when you restore a house and you dig into the walls only to find dry rot and leaky pipes. The engine was toast, the rear end was toast, and the whole cab cage needed to be repaired. We ended up doing a complete frame-off restoration. So, it’s basically a brand-new truck now,” laughed Parks.
After long, labor-intensive hours, Jason Spiess at Bar T Equipment got this F-100 up and running. The only problem is, Spiess and everyone involved with this build did such a great job that the crew was pretty hesitant about taking it south of the border. “We finished it literally a week before the race, and we didn’t have enough time to test,” admitted Parks. “It’s the typical story, and everybody said, ‘Are you really going to take that truck down to Mexico and absolutely destroy it?’ So, about five rolls of white duct tape later, the truck was wrapped so rocks wouldn’t chip it.”
So, things that don’t necessarily go as planned aren’t always bad. In Parks’ case, his troubles with finding a vintage two-seat buggy brought him this gem. Though it took a lot of elbow grease to get it into the condition it is now, we’re pretty sure that Parks doesn’t regret his decision. Not one bit.
EXTERIOR To keep this 1973 Ford F-100 true to its origins, Chad Riccio at C.R. Designs blasted this classic with Ford’s Wimbledon White. Considering that this is a vintage vehicle, Parks presented this truck to beer manufactures of that era in hopes of a sponsorship. Pabst Blue Ribbon loved the idea, and jumped on board to support the build. You’ll also notice that the PBR logo is painted on, and not just a decal. Parks also calls it the Beer Hauler because Robby Gordon had the Hay Hauler and beer is better than hay any day. Falken Tires and Walker Evans Racing also agreed to support Parks, and outfitted his truck with 35-inch Wildpeak all-terrains and 17-inch beadlocks. Racing under the moon’s light is inevitable during a 1000-mile race, which is why Baja Designs was recruited with their OnX LED light bar.
Energy Suspension coil spring damper donuts help slow down the final inches of travel.
FRONT SUSPENSION The half-ton twin I-beams were removed from the truck and replaced with some stouter one-ton versions. However, the newer beams had to be bent to replicate the amount of caster that was put into the old Walker Evans beams. The original coils were also swapped for F-250 with air conditioning coils. Apparently the air conditioning option added more weight to the F-250, which required stiffer springs. Keeping the old school and somewhat original look are three Walker Evans Racing reservoir shocks that were mounted to each corner to provide a smoother ride. With the full front suspension package, the Beer Hauler is able to produce 10 inches of functioning travel.
Bringing this tank of a truck to a stop is a set of four-piston Wilwood brakes.
REAR SUSPENSION The rear of Matt Parks’ vintage machine is fairly basic; nonetheless it’s still efficient. The stock leaves were re-arched and one leaf was added to support the load of the spare tires, a 50-gallon Pyrotect fuel cell and a floor jack. Just like the front, a set of three Walker Evans Racing reservoir shocks attaches to the rear, and give the F-100 a total of 12 inches of travel. A beefed up Currie Ford 9-inch rear end houses 4.56 gears and 40-spline 300M axles, and is paired with Currie floating hubs.
The 427 cubic inch V8 produces a healthy 535 horsepower.
ENGINE Initially, Parks was going to run with the original engine that came with the truck, but after some initial tests the crew agreed that it was a basket case. So, a Ford Racing 427 cubic-inch Cobra V8 was called to action. The fierce small block produces 535 horsepower and 540 lb-ft of torque. Putting the cherry on top of this engine package is a 750 cfm HP Holley carburetor built by Kroyer Racing Engines. With the engine upgrade, the transmission needed some updating, too, and was replaced with a Gearworks C6.
This truck is 100-percent street legal. When you’re out on the racecourse, simply roll down the windows and snap on the window nets.
INTERIOR The existing cage was scrapped, and Jason Spiess fabbed up a stronger, more reliable one. He also beautifully crafted the center console and dash that you see here. Mastercraft Safety seats and harness keep the crew secure, while a Kenwood race radio and PCI communications system allows easy voice communication. Open up the glove box, and a custom fabricated T-handle slides on in, and then connects with a Lowrance GPS system.
What would a Beer Hauler be without a bottle opener?
DATA LOGGER Vehicle: 1973 Ford F-100 Owner: Matt Parks Builder: Jason Spiess at Bar T Equipment Significance: A Ford F-100 Done Right