Diesel-powered mega trucks are now part of the norm at most major off-road events we hit throughout the year. Chrome stacks rolling coal is a product of pure power and torque mixed in with American ingenuity. There’s nothing quite like seeing a 2½- or 5-ton, tube chassis race rig tearing through the mud while the twin-turbo Duramax diesel motor screams like a military fighter jet. Hearts are beating a mile a minute as these 1,000-plus horsepower monsters blast through a bounty hole slinging mud all over hundreds of spectators.
Mega truck racing is fast becoming the great All-American motorsport competition. Companies like Pela Motorsports based in Jupiter, Florida, are doing things to the diesel powerplants that this side of motorsports hasn’t seen before. That’s why we decided to follow a pair of these builders and fabricators and document two mega truck builds that they’re putting together. We are going behind the scenes to capture the tricks and methods these fabricators use to assemble some the most performance-driven off-road vehicles in the sport.
Many of you have seen previous feature rigs and noticed the differences between a full tube chassis race truck and a massive 5-ton factory frame diesel crawler and wondered which was better. What are the functional advantages and real-world benefits to a fully engineered and assembled chassis? Can a 5-ton steel body, 24-valve Dodge Cummins beat a tube chassis, twin-turbo Duramax in a side-by-side race at Redneck Yacht Club by the end of this year? These are serious life-altering questions that everyone, including us, wants answered. So with a plan in place and a date set, Rob Pigue from Plan B Fab and Adam Pela with Pela Motorsports will show us what happens when two custom mega trucks sit side-by-side and wait for the light to go green.
The build and race is going to get intense with these two lifetime competitors, so we are splitting up the arena and allowing them to go as big as they want. No rules, no limits, no regrets. This will be one of the most unique build-offs any media outlet has covered to date. The final race will stream live online, and the winner gets bragging rights and the title of Mega Diesel King.
Next-Level is the name of the Pela Motorsport build and will be constructed from an ’07 GMC 2500. It will have a completely engineered tube chassis designed and fabricated at Dennis Ruegger’s shop, All-Out Performance in Zephyrhills, Florida. The rig will have a fully built, Twin Turbo Duramax diesel motor along with a one-of-a-kind Ford 4R100 prototype transmission.
Pela will be utilizing the first-ever billet aluminum, CNC-machined rear timing cover for an engine, so there is no adapter plate needed to attach the $10,000 transmission. The rear-mounted motor adds weight to the rear and will require a custom reverse-flow transfer case from Cyclone Gearbox.
Dan Patrick at Patrick Enterprises Incorporated in Ohio is building a coilover suspension direct from the world of monster trucks that will give Pela full control when hitting the corners and jumps. The 2½-ton Rockwell axles will be upgraded with eight-lug hubs, 16-spline axleshafts, lockers, custom wheels, and Superior Traction paddle tires. Fiberglass body panels, racing seats, and a whole bunch a gauges will finish up the project just in time to align bumpers with Rob Pigue’s ’05 Dodge Ram Cummins at the starting line of the race.
Check out our website for the specs on Pigue’s build and follow along online as he redesigns his heavy-duty Dodge. The competition will heat up fast, so don’t miss a minute of the fun. We’ll see you at the final race to see which rig takes home the title and the bragging rights.