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.

The sudden acceleration issue has dogged the auto industry since the mid-1980s, following reports that vehicles from many automakers suffered from sudden acceleration. Jeeps have been singled out for criticism for at least 15 years, although no study has confirmed the problem.

The car wash association, which began warning members about the problem as early as 1995, recently sent a letter advising members how to warn workers about washing Jeeps.

"Notify all employees once a Jeep arrives on premises by honking the horn and activating the hazard lights," the letter says. "Have only experienced employees operate Jeeps. Have employees wear seatbelts when operating Jeeps."

Chrysler said it's aware that some car washes refuse to service its customers' Jeep Cherokees and Grand Cherokees because of the campaign. Bruce Milen, owner of Jax Car Wash, with six outlets in Metro Detroit, said the problem is real.

In the past 18 months, he said the company has had four incidents involving Jeeps. In March, a worker was driving a Jeep off the conveyer belt after it was washed, and the vehicle hit three other cars and ran over an employee, breaking his pelvis.

The company's worker's compensation insurance was cancelled and its new rates are higher. Now a plastic sleeve is placed over the steering wheels of Cherokees and Grand Cherokees to remind workers to take special precautions.

"My employee swore up and down that his foot was on the brake, and other employees saw the brake lights on," Milen said. "It's impossible for all these incidents to be employee error. I'm a small-business man-to go after Chrysler, forget it. I just want the problem fixed."

Vines cited dozens of studies over more than a decade that he says disprove any link between "sudden acceleration" and a vehicle defect. In 1989, NHTSA said "pedal misapplication"-mistaking the gas pedal for the brake-was to blame.

More recently, NHTSA rejected a request to investigate sudden acceleration in Jeeps in 2002, saying pedal misapplication appeared to be the primary cause of such incidents.

"It's a big mistake for the car wash industry to whitewash its failings by trying to blame the vehicles its customers pay good money to clean," Vines wrote on the blog. "There are a few immutable truths in life. One is that the brakes always win. You could be standing on the gas, but if your other foot is on the brake, the car is going nowhere."

Vines also noted that while five of 41 recent complaints of sudden acceleration were lodged against Jeep Cherokees and Grand Cherokees, the same number were leveled against the Toyota Camry.

Mark Thorsby, ICA's executive director, backpedaled a bit Tuesday from the group's advice for washing Jeeps.

He said the advice for special precautions was applicable for all vehicles. Jeep was singled out because the number of complaints they had received "were excessive in comparison to other vehicles."

"If we got Toyota complaints, we'd say, 'Hey, look out for the Camry,'" Thorsby said. "There have been an infinitesimally small number of incidents of property damage or injuries involving Jeeps, but they got our attention."

Americans spend $24 billion annually at the nation's 100,000 car washes. About 40 percent of the washes are self-serve.

You can reach David Shepardson at (202) 662-8735 or dshepardson@detnews.com.

Sport Truck Slang Term Of The Month
Lambo Doors- Lambo doors are exactly what they sound like; doors that open in the same manner as doors on a Lamborghini would. These are not the gullwing-style doors you might have seen on older Mercedes cars though. These doors pivot forward rather than simply upward. Several companies like Vertical Doors offer kits to turn your stock doors into Lambo-styled units.

10 Mostly Worthless Facts
As far back as 1912, GMC built pickups. All 1/2- and 1-ton trucks were offered with a chain-driven electric motor, with gas motors appearing only in 1-1/2-ton to 5-ton models.

According to www.anythingaboutcars.com, Hong Kong has more Rolls Royce automobile drivers per capita than any other place on earth. But, do they have the most Grey Poupon?

Galen owns a minitruck that the staff has never actually seen. We hear it's pretty cool though.

Right now, Calin is on vacation for three weeks. While the rest of us are hard at work putting out this issue of Sport Truck, he's at home putting his '68 Chevy together.

Pickups Are Tops
Despite soaring gas prices and an increasing number of fuel-efficient vehicle alternatives, some pickup truck models are actually selling better than they did at this time last year.

Overall, pickup truck sales took a big hit during the first six months of 2006, compared to the same period of time last year. On the small pickup side, total sales dropped 10.3 percent, but a few models actually saw jumps in sales. Honda sold 26,868 Ridgelines during the months of January through June, which is an impressive 88.5 percent jump from this time last year (the Honda Ridgeline began selling in February of last year). One possible reason for this sales growth: More pickup truck buyers may be looking for trucks with SUV-like comfort and convenience with the towing and hauling capabilities of a pickup. The Nissan Frontier, which was redesigned for 2005, is attracting more pickup truck buyers, as sales grew 19.5 percent. Toyota Tacoma also experienced increases in sales, growing 10.2 percent compared to the first six months of last year. On the large pickup side, overall sales dropped 11.2 percent. The Lincoln Mark LT, which still remains a relatively low-volume pickup, experienced a 137.4 percent sales jump-the only large pickup with sales growth (the Mark LT also began selling in February of last year).

That's A Lot Of Freakin' Used Cars, Man!
Bay Motors announced that its two millionth passenger vehicle has been sold in the U.S. The milestone vehicle is a blue '05 Jeep Liberty, purchased by first-time eBay Motors buyer Kelly Joyce of Charleston, South Carolina, from Century Motors of Pompano Beach, Florida.

"Only six years ago, the thought of going online and buying a car you've never seen-from a seller you've never met-was an unfamiliar concept to most people," said Rob Chesney, senior director of eBay Motors. "Since then, two million buyers have successfully bought cars and trucks on eBay Motors. It's a fundamental shift in car purchase behavior, and we're gratified that so many buyers and sellers have made eBay Motors what it is today-America's preferred online destination for buying and selling not just vehicles, but parts and accessories, too."

Joyce had never thought about going online to find a car. After an accident totaled her previous vehicle, she needed to find a reasonably priced car fast. On eBay Motors, Joyce found the perfect car for her, listed by Century Motors at a great price, $3,000 under the Kelly Blue Book suggested retail value.

Frank and Gina Fuzy, the owners of Century Motors, have made selling cars online a significant part of their business. Already a successful dealership with a 25-year history, they were originally skeptical that people would actually buy a car sight-unseen on eBay Motors. They listed Century Motors' first car only after a friend convinced them to try, and they were amazed when bidding quickly escalated. Today, Century Motors has grown its business and now sells exclusively on eBay Motors. Currently selling about two cars a day on eBay Motors, the dealership is building a new $1.1 million warehouse to store its vehicles.

In its first years, eBay Motors was embraced by car collectors and enthusiasts. Today, the site has evolved into a destination for everyday car buyers and dealers, where a vehicle is sold every 60 seconds. eBay Motors helps people find deals in a safe, easy-to-use marketplace. The site offers multiple purchase methods, including Auction-style, Fixed Price, and Best Offer, which allows buyers and sellers the ability to negotiate. In addition, eBay Motors enables several third-party services for customers, including vehicle inspections, shipping, financing, and as much as $20,000 in buyer protection for qualified purchases.

Get Your Duramax Here
Gale Banks Engineering announced it has been named by General Motors (GM) Powertrain to be the world's exclusive OE distributor for the 6.6L Duramax turbodiesel engine. The arrangement gives Banks exclusivity of the popular diesel engine for marine, off-highway, and specialty uses. Banks will offer the engines in stock form, all the way up to special-built racing applications. Banks was chosen for its long-standing and successful history in engineering performance systems for GM Powertrain products.

This arrangement marks another in a series of partnerships between Banks and GM spanning four decades. A few of the partnerships with GM include, in 1971, Banks was named OEM supplier of Big Block Chevrolet engines to the world marine market; in 1980, Gale Banks began teaching graduate level engine design at the General Motors Institute; and, Banks is still the first and only aftermarket company to develop a dealer-specified turbo system option for GM's 6.2L diesel engine, beginning in 1988.

Over the past five decades, Gale Banks has set numerous land speed records and achieved many performance engineering milestones, leveraging GM Powertrain systems. Past records include: World's Fastest Passenger Car and World's Fastest Pickup, with the Banks project Syclone that was later marketed by GMC as the Syclone pickup. Also, Banks recently completed the world's first road race twin-turbo Duramax diesel pickup-the Banks Sidewinder D-Max Type-R.

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