Feature VehicleNews

Trophy Truck 83: There is No Such Thing as “Bad Luck”

Story by Luke McMillin
Photos by Daniel Schenkelberg

Racer Engineering was selected to build this truck in 2014 after driving many other trucks and feeling out many of the different builders / designs. The things that stood out to us were the truck’s stability and traction and we believe that advantage still holds true today. The engine and drivetrain package was an obvious choice, Kroyer Racing Engines, their professionalism is next level and they provided the entire drivetrain package, from the engine to the transmission, along with the electronics and control strategy.

Right out of the gate, the truck proved to be really fast. It was almost always running near the front of the pack, however, most of these early races were riddled with issues (big and small). Something always seemed to bite us, and all too often we would hear “I’ve never seen that before” from various vendors. After growing tired of hearing that phrase, in 2017 we decided to take matters into our own hands. McMillin Racing initiated an in-house engineering program with the main focus of reliability and understanding of the truck, but never losing sight of improving speed. After hundreds of hours of studying, and thousands of miles of testing, the truck finally broke through with its first win in 2019. Since then, it has landed on the podium in 8 of the last 9 races entered.

We are very proud of so many aspects of this truck, but at the end of the day, the truck is only a small piece to the puzzle. All throughout the development of this truck, we continued to focus on improving all aspects of our race program, no detail overlooked. It is the sum of all these decisions and hard work that equal the results that are unfolding now.
Below, we will highlight a couple of the larger projects that helped improve TT83. However, we feel the most important piece of the puzzle, reliability, really comes down to small details and quality control, and those breakthroughs won’t be shared.


Chassis Geometry:

Steering: Our team at McMillin Racing re-designed the steering geometry and contracted TSCO to assist and build new uprights to allow for more Ackermann gain and steering angle, while improving mechanical strength/leverage. We also designed and built our own steering ram in-house as well as refining many other steering components along the way.
Rear End: Much effort was put into changing the rear geometry of the truck. The changes were mainly focused on fine tuning the roll steer / roll axis of the truck to improve handling by modifying pivot points on both the chassis and rear end housing. During these modifications we also improved D.S angle and suspension travel.

All suspension arms were built by TSCO Racing (excluding the front upper arms). Shock set up has been a constant evolution, including many spring rate and valving changes, always with the tuning help of Todd Tenbroek (now SDG Suspension). We also modified and moved the sway bars to improve ratio and truck handling.

Engine: The truck has run a small block Ford built by Kroyer Racing Engines for its entire life. In 2017 we upgraded the engine by installing an “8-stack” intake to increase power and torque.
Transmission: The transmission has always been a Turbo 400, however internal parts, including the torque converter and gearing have been continually refined and improved. The truck was built with a TW underdrive, but over the years, many parts inside have been redesigned in-house at McMillin Racing.

Much thought was put into a broad lighting package, using various Baja Designs light options, and verified by testing. All light bars and mounts were CAD designed in house, with top and front bars actuated by buttons on the steering wheel.

Carbon Work:
Early on, we began modifying the look/aero of the trucks body. With the help from Ray at RES, we designed our own body and built our own molds. The goal was “flat sleek lines” inspired by the Riviera truck. From day 1 this truck has run a stock Ford Raptor grill, and still does today. Dash pods were CAD drawn up in-house at McMillin Racing, which were then sent to Walker industries to cut out plugs and make molds for new carbon fiber dash pods. We were one of the first trucks with an all-carbon fiber body, inner panels, dash pods, fuel cell etc.

Other Components Added / Built In-House:
Brake reservoir, P/S reservoir, added A/C units, designed first hinged red head door cover, air filter base, trans mount / alternator package, driver GPS, dual mufflers, fuel filter housings, swirl pot, throttle pedal / linkage, wheels studs and more…

Built: 2014 by Racer Engineering / McMillin Racing
Engine: Ford 454ci built by Kroyer Racing Engines
Transmission: Turbo 400
Wiring / Electronics: JLM and Motec controlled by KRE
Tires: BFGoodrich KR3
Wheels: Method Race Wheels 103 Race Series
Suspension Arms / Links: TSCO Racing / McMillin Racing
Suspension: Tuned and Serviced by SDG Suspension
Cooling: CBR Coolers with Maxima Racing Oils
Lighting: Baja Designs LED / Laser Lights
Steering: Power Steering Solutions / McMillin Racing
Body: Ford Raptor / Designed by McMillin Racing
Fuel cell: 105 gallons
Weight: 5,900 lbs
Seats: Impact

-14 Podiums
-4 Wins:
2019 King of the Hammers
2020 Mint 400
2020 Silver State 300
2020 Baja 1000