One of the benefits of working at Sport Truck, aside from fame and fortune, is the opportunity to meet interesting characters and pick their brains for information. We get to hobnob with the automotive elite on occasion and hear stories that you wouldn't believe about hot-rodding trucks. Most of the time, the stories we hear from individuals are pretty one-dimensional, mostly because many guys are into just one side of sport trucks. Some are into speed or style, while others are into the off-road experience. And, of course, there's always that gas-versus-diesel dividing line that many truck builders subscribe to. But then there's Gale Banks of Banks Engineering. Here's a guy who's done it all and done it well, and he has the records to prove it. You'll find his name in the record books for building the fastest pickups on earth.
Recently, we visited Gale, not so much to regurgitate the legendary stories of obliterating speed records at the Bonneville Salt Flats or about the time he won a science fair by building his own robot complete with a working nervous system, but rather to climb in and around the awesome fleet of high-performance trucks he's amassed. The trucks are the fruits of his labor, building horsepower from nothing and finding a way to make it work in a pickup. Some of the trucks you might have seen before, but we're sure a couple are new because at the time we photographed them they were unfinished projects that had to be pushed around for photography. Whether you are into drag racing, road racing, or gas- or diesel-powered street machines that have the ponies to decimate nearly any import or domestic car that steps to you, Gale's got something to drool over.
The Shop Truck
Gale's '90 454SS Chevy flies in the face of conventional gearhead wisdom for a couple of different reasons. It's not surprising to find turbochargers under the hood, because after all, Gale has made his name outfitting everything under the sun with hairdryer horsepower. The interesting thing here is that this truck no longer has big-block power. The Shop Truck is the platform for tweaking Bank's custom-built twin-turbo'd small-block, a potent engine capable of producing between 800 and 1,100 hp, depending on the boost level.
The engines are built in-house, starting with a Dart block, CNC-ported 23-degree cylinder heads, and a forged rotating assembly. With a 3-1/2-inch stroker crank and 4.125 pistons, the displacement tops 375 cubic inches. The valvetrain, like the rest of the engine, was carefully spec'd by the Banks race shop and consists of a solid roller camshaft from Comp Cams and Jesel shaft-mounted rocker arms. The induction system consists of another quality Banks piece, a custom pressure chamber with shuttle valve and built-in billet aluminum throttle body. The system sits atop an ACCEL Pro Ram manifold, and a digital fuel-injection system takes care of the engine management.
The Shop Truck is used exclusively for developing the engine management programs for the turbo engine, and Banks is confident that in the future he can tune the engine to pass a smog inspection. He's also flirting with the idea of getting CARB approval to make the engine street-legal in California. Eventually, you might be able to swap the twice-blown small-block into your own truck and have the smooth reliability of fuel injection and the monster power of turbochargers without worrying about getting rolled by the man. We'll keep you posted, if and when it becomes a reality.