SPAL, in conjunction with HyperMax Engineering, will attempt to set a new land speed record to claim the title of World's Fastest Diesel Pickup Truck during the Bonneville Salt Flats 2006 World Finals, October 11-14.

SPAL's "Rocket Ranger" will try to exceed 213.583 mph, a record that was previously recorded by Gale Banks Engineering's Cummins-equipped project Sidewinder Dodge Dakota in 2002. The Class C/Diesel Truck record is recognized by the Southern California Timing Association/Bonneville Nationals Incorporated (SCTA/BNI).

Designed and built by SPAL, the Rocket Ranger, an '01 extended cab Ford Ranger, features a Ford Power Stroke 6.0L diesel engine, equipped with a custom-fit HyperMax intercooled twin turbocharger, dual SPAL 12-inch high-performance cooling fans and a ZF six-speed transmission.

"While SPAL is best known for cooling fans and centrifugal blowers, we are also heavily involved in the motorsports arena, using it as a proving ground for our performance products," said Bob Folkestad, director of electronics and innovations, SPAL. "We came up with the idea of the Rocket Ranger as a way to have fun and promote our company at the same time.

The Rocket Ranger set its first land speed record in 2001 at the SCTA/BNI World Finals with a Roush-built NASCAR Nextel Cup engine enlarged to 371 cubic inches. It reached 205.208 mph-a record that still stands-to shatter the existing Modified Mid/Mini Pickup class mark by almost 25 mph and become a proud member of Bonneville's 200-mph club.

In 2003, SPAL's Rocket Ranger returned to Bonneville to mark the first time a Power Stroke diesel engine was used for a land speed record attempt. The truck reached a respectable 222 mph but was unable to complete a back-up run, due to an electrical issue caused by an intercooler explosion on a previous run. "This year we have more power, more preparation, and a better engine from HyperMax Engineering," said Folkestad.

"This is a clean, slick, powerful truck, and it's going to rewrite the record book come October!" said Max Lagod, Rocket Ranger driver and HyperMax engine builder.

Lagod, who started road racing in 1988, won the SCCA GT-1 class national championship in 1997 and 1998, and recorded several Top Five finishes in SCCA Trans-Am racing, before the series was eliminated.

Breaking News: Chevrolet & Gmc Heavy Duty Trucks Uncovered!
These aren't the sharpest or the highest resolution pictures, but they are the very first "uncovered" images that you'll see of the 2500/3500-series Heavy Duty GMC and Chevy trucks.

Last week, GM debuted its much touted, brand-new line of Chevy and GMC pickup trucks at GM's Proving Grounds in Milford, Michigan. At the beginning of the press conference, GM drove out several dozen of the new trucks and parked them in front of the camera-carrying press corps. What GM didn't tell the attending media was that thrown in with all the light-duty pickups on display were a few of the heavy-duty Silverados and Sierras. As soon as the speeches were over, the heavy-duty models made a quick getaway. However, an alert member of the media was able to snap a few frames before they made their escape.

As you can see from the photos, the heavy-duty variants will get a unique grille and bumper. It also appears that the hood bulge will be more aggressive than its light-duty counterpart.

Expect the official debut for these trucks to come in late spring.

So Clean It's Dangerous
In an unusual public dispute, DaimlerChrysler AG's Chrysler Group is taking aim at a car wash trade association that claims Jeep Cherokees and Grand Cherokees are prone to dangerous sudden acceleration problems that put car wash employees and customers at risk of injury or possibly death.

Chrysler's top spokesman, Jason Vines, on Tuesday lashed out at the International Carwash Association in a sharply worded internet posting.

The missive came in response to a recent letter from the association to its members advising them to have workers take special safety precautions when washing the Jeep sport utility vehicles.

Chrysler was also reacting to Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal, who in June asked the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to investigate the February death of a 53-year-old trucker at a Hamden, Connecticut, car wash, who was struck by a runaway Jeep speeding out of a car wash bay.

Police found no sign of a mechanical problem with the Jeep. "NHTSA is reviewing the request," Spokesman Eric Bolton said Tuesday.

Auburn Hills-based Chrysler says it's unfair that two of its popular vehicles have been singled out by car wash association and says there is no evidence to suggest that the Jeeps are any more likely than any other vehicle to accelerate suddenly near the end of the car wash cycle. "If a vehicle suddenly accelerates in a car wash, it's generally because some dude workin' at the car wash is dancing with two left feet-stepping on the gas pedal instead of the brake," Vines wrote Tuesday on Thefirehouse.biz, a blog for journalists and analysts sponsored by the automaker.

"That's not my opinion; that's the conclusion reached in studies conducted by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and other government and independent agencies," Vines wrote.