Mini-Feature: Nick Tonelli’s Class 1450 Ranger

A big part of the spectacle of Stadium Super Trucks is obviously the trucks. These rigs are built to race, and Nick Tonelli’s Ranger is one such radical vehicle.

Nick’s early days in racing were with the support of his family. “My family used to go to the desert, and when I turned 16, I decided that I wanted to race,” he said. “My family supported me, and we’ve never looked back.”

Nick's Ranger looks new with its modern, F-150-esque fiberglass front, but it has been around the block many times. Nick first got the truck almost 20 years ago when he was in high school in Huntington Beach, California, and built it up along the way.

Along with those early days was this Ford Ranger, which Nick has owned since high school. “The 1450 class started about 15 years ago, when all it needed was a cage and a fuel cell, and you could go racing,” he explained. “I took it through Lucerne Valley and Barstow. Now, they’re like smaller versions of Trophy Trucks.”

The center console has gauges and switches galore, and the most important message of all – you only live once.

Of course, practically every Trophy Truck has to have the mechanical chops to compete, and that takes a V8. For Nick’s Ranger, he went with the biggest – the LS7 – and had it squeezed into the tiny Ranger’s engine bay. Unfortunately, we couldn’t get a closer look at the motor at SST, but it’s enough to know that it’s there, and it’s big and scary.

Asked what his experience has been with the Ranger so far, Nick said, “It’s been awesome. I’ve gotten to race 11 years in SCORE races, and take home two championships in the Sportsman Mini Truck class (Class 1500). I’ve won the Baja 1000 three times with this truck, and a couple of times at the San Felipe 250.”

At the time of our interview, Nick and his Ranger had not yet raced the track. He was thus cautious about his expected performance on a course made out of a baseball stadium in Lake Elsinore, California. "The track is tight, and it's gonna be slippery with some good carnage, but hopefully I can say out of trouble," he said.

Regarding SST, Nick has had his fair share of experience in the short-course side of things. “We’ve worked with Robby Gordon and this series for about four years now,” he said. “We’ve raced Costa Mesa with him, as well as Baja Bob’s Mike’s Peak Hill Climb. But this is our first time with 1450s in a stadium, ever, in the history of our class. It’s pretty exciting.”

It’s fair to say that Nick has a lot of reasons to like this truck, since it has carried him to victory many a time. But above all, Nick is just happy that it’s still around and still working. “It’s one of the fastest trucks out there, even though it’s pretty old,” he said.

What are your thought on this bright yellow Ranger? Let us know in the comments below.

About the author

David Chick

David Chick comes to us ready for adventure. With passions that span clean and fast Corvettes all the way to down and dirty off-road vehicles (just ask him about his dream Jurassic Park Explorer), David's eclectic tastes lend well to his multiple automotive writing passions.
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