In desert racing, there are those legendary Trophy Trucks we often refer to as “best ever”, those trucks include the Mark Posts Riveria Racing truck or the Jimmy Smith Ultra Wheels truck, and you could even count the Herbst Truggy Land Shark. But what about a true Class 1? What are those buggies that stand out and have deemed legendary status? That would have to be Josh Daniel’s Class 1 race buggy known as “Sheila.” The Racer Engineering Buggy – initially built in 2007 would set the standard for what a class 1 buggy is today. Its high horsepower V8 would send beautiful noises out of the eight into one exhaust as Josh Daniel would come screaming down the desert – leaving us thinking one thing: that is a badass car. What makes this buggy so special, and how did it help set the standard for all buggies today? Well, Sheila is back, and we were able to see for ourselves.
Racer Engineering originally built Sheila in 2007 for Danizo Performance owner Josh Daniel. The goal was to build something different; this was an era where race teams were still building unique one-off trucks. Josh and co owner of Danzio, Chris Muzio wanted to try something different and placed their Danzio LS7 V8 in the rear, making a staggering 700hp with a true eight into one exhaust. Chris, was the real driving force behind the technology behind the car and made it all possible. This was the era where V8s were starting to be put into class 1 cars and most had a V6 or a small horsepower LS. But it wasn’t just the V8 that was pushing boundaries; they were amongst the few that ran a 37-inch tire and even traction control. It was a combination of everything, from the chassis, which was designed to keep the weight down low, to the power and drivetrain, that made this car stand out amongst the rest.
Josh claims that they came up with “Sheila” when they first assembled the car evenings after work with his business partner Chris Muzio kept saying in an Australian Accent, “ole Sheila, she’ll be alright.” Thus being dubbed Sheila. It is a good fit.
Sheila would go on to race for four years and claimed multiple victories throughout that period. In 2012 he sold it and made the natural progression into a 1000hp twin-turbo Geiser Trophy Truck that turned into a Rockstar Energy backed program that would prove to be very successful. Danzio Performance once again was going against the grain, proving the twin-turbo setup can be reliable. But throughout those years, Josh was asked one question over and over again. “Where was Sheila?” Well, Sheila is now back and better than ever.
Racing had been proven to be very successful for Josh, but like anything, it was a hobby and can get burnt out easily. There was a lot to juggle between the sponsors, racing, his family, and his business. Josh decided to sell the truck and step back and focus on Danzio Performance; meanwhile, he was getting offers to drive for other teams. So the TTTT was sold as a result. He purchased Sheila back and wanted to get back to racing for the reason he started in the first place – the fun of it.
At the hands of A.J Loera of AMPT Racing, he took on the project to completely tear down the car to bare chassis, rebuilt it, and add a few new touches along the way. Josh wanted to make this car race-ready in the states. Whether it is racing in Parker or racing Vegas to Reno, he wanted it to be competitive and ready to race.
Starting with the drivetrain, Chris and Danzio Performance built one of their craziest engines yet a Custom LS 435CI With 8 Stack throttle bodies that scream to 9000rpm redline at 900 horsepower. Managed by a Life Racing F88 ECU, this buggy can get the power to the ground through an Albins 5 Sequential speed with Life Racing Paddle Shift.
The 37’s are gone and replaced by 39 inch Yokohama Geolander MT on KMC wheels. Most of the car remains true to the original build in 2007, except for the cooling system, powerplant and a few upgrades. Even the body panels remain original, now sporting a beautiful paint job by Lil Michael Customs.
Sheila is back and better than ever. This Class 1 car set the standard for what a modern-day buggy should be. Its unique features such as the eight-to-one exhaust scream through the desert, are of the many reasons we love this race car. Is it the most iconic Class 1 transaxle car? Maybe. Are we excited to see it racing again? You better believe it.
Chassis: Racer Engineering
Engine: Danzio Custom LS 435CI With 8 Stack 9000rpm redline
ECU: Life Racing F88
Lights: Baja Designs
Exhaust: RPM Muffler
Transmission: Albins 5 Sequential speed with Life Racing Paddle Shift
Tires: Yokahama 39″
Front Suspension: FOX Set up by AllTech
Rear Suspension: FOX Set up by AllTech
Communication: AVComm Intercom, Kenwood Race Radio
Safety: Mastercraft harnesses, Safecraft Fire suppression
Fuel cell: 58 gallon Harmon Racing cell
Fluids: Maxima Racing Oils
Original build: 2007