It is often forgotten about when out on the trail, in the desert, or in the dunes that there was a price paid. A price that can never be repaid and something that men and women do to allow us the freedom we have.
Supercross teamed up with Warfighter Made to build a 2017 Toyota Tacoma for a veteran. If you watched any of the 2017 Supercross season, you saw a video played of this truck being built. It caught our attention, and we dug deeper to find out more.
Behind The Build(er)
Rob Blanton, CEO, co-founder, and full-time volunteer for Warfighter Made, gave us some insight to the build and the entire project. “The TV show was designed to make the viewer think Warfighter Made was building this vehicle for ourselves, to use in off-road therapy trips,” Blanton explained. “The truth was, we were always building the truck for a combat-wounded soldier single-leg amputee, Craig Hall, as a surprise.”
“During the build, we consulted our buddy, combat wounded (double-leg amputee) Marine, Jesse Williamson,” Blanton continued. “Jesse absolutely rips on a dirt bike, and for his part in the build, Husqvarna donated a brand new FC450 Jason Anderson replica dirt bike.”
If anyone knows what our vets go through, Blanton does. He spent 21 years in the Marine Corps as a Force Recon Marine and Scout Sniper, did four combat tours (one Somalia and three Iraq), and received a Silver Star medal (nation’s third highest valor award). Blanton helped start Warfighter Made as a way to give back to veterans.
Blanton remembers his first car-related memory running the quarter mile at Sears Point Raceway (NorCal) with his dad in his V8 Vega when he was around four years old. His automotive passion continued while he was in the service.
We had the chance to get a look at the truck as it was being built. The concept of the truck and the individuals who helped put it together are what makes things like this special.
“I was a team leader for a vehicle team in Force, and we had the Mercedes G-Wagen IFAV (Interim Fast Attack Vehicle), but they were slow and limited,” said Blanton. “Just prior to those, we had the Chenowth dune buggies, but again, while cool, they weren’t suited to what we needed them for.”
“Adam Fitza of Axis Rod Ends introduced me to off-road as I know it,” Blanton continued. “I’ve always been fascinated with suspension, but other than dirt bikes and wanting a Honda Odyssey as a kid, my off-roading was limited to what I did in the military.”
One of our favorite parts of the build was the bed. We got to see it off of the truck and as a finished product.
From that point on Blanton was hooked and incorporated it into Warfighter Made. “Warfighter Made uses Polaris RZRs for therapy and races a Ford Ranger in the Lucas Oil Regional Series,” Blanton said. “Warfighter Made also has a vintage military vehicle we race in the NORRA Mexican 1000.”
With a backstory like this one, it is hard to think that there is even a truck. We spent some time with the Tacoma and checked out all of its details.
A Tacoma Built For The Dirt
Feld Entertainment approached Warfighter Made to build a vehicle in partnership with Toyota, to give back to vets. The build was to be part of a special feature during the weekly broadcast of Monster Energy Supercross.
Some of the biggest names in the automotive industry are featured on the truck. Building a vehicle with any type of deadline can be stressful, but a television deadline was the most stressful part of the project.
A with any off-road rig, the suspension is key. The Tacoma is outfitted with a Total Chaos suspension, Fox shocks, and Deaver springs.
Giving the truck off-road capability is a Total Chaos mid travel kit with Fox coilover and bypass shocks up front. In the rear, the truck uses a Deaver spring under kit and Fox bypass shocks on custom Total Chaos mounts. The 2017 Toyota Tacoma sports an aggressive look, sitting on Method Grid Titanium 17-inch wheels wrapped in 285/70R17 Cooper Discoverer STT Pro tires.
The bed of the truck had the most customization done to it. The utility bed was the brainchild of Adam Fitza, and the main welder on the project was Marine combat veteran Narayana (Na-Ryan) Devone, with help from other veterans.
One of the most eye-catching parts of the build is the bed. The custom-hinged bedside sallow for supply storage, and are strut-assisted.
The utility bed was sandblasted and powder coated by Precision Powder Coat in Temecula, California. It was also given a liner by Team Plus Bullet Liner in Murrieta, California. “Out back is a custom built utility bed, with hinged flip-up fenders on struts,” Blanton explained. “It also features a Cargo Ease sliding bed insert with integrated ramps and 808DS strapless bike chock.”
The bed also features a fold-down jump seat covered by PRP Seats, bike tethers by Guardian Fall Protection, helmet dryer (which is a Rugged Radios pumper), a Craftsman air compressor, PRP tool bags filled with Craftsman tools, spare fluids by Lucas Oil. There is plenty of storage room under the fenders for RotoPax fuel, water, and storage pax, and all compartments are lit up by WhipTech LED lights.
The headlights feature Warfighter Made logos etched on multi-colored projectors with custom multi-colored halos. This work was thanks to veteran-owned SRT Creations, who used Diode Dynamics product. Custom Warfighter Made decals were produced by veteran-owned Trail Therapy, and the paint done by Neil Ambrosi at Hot Dog Kustoms. The truck also has a Gibson Muffler installed by Bird Family Tire.
The interior is every bit as tricked out as the exterior with custom PRP seats and Warfighter Made embroidery. Keeping the party going all night long are a Sony head unit, Kicker Q Series amp and speakers, and an L7 10-inch subwoofer in a custom enclosure. The system was designed and installed by Young Guns Auto Salon with ceramic window tint by Cali Tintz.
The Warfighter Made logo can be found on the outside of the vehicle, as well as on the PRP seats and in the headlights.
Even the bike in the back of the truck got customized. “We contacted Rekluse and they donated their automatic clutch and rear handbrake system,” Blanton said. “We had it all installed at Motor Medic Racing in Murrieta, California.”
In the end, the project was more than just building a one-of-a-kind Tacoma; it was about building a truck for a veteran. “Revealing the truck to Craig on the last episode was pretty memorable since he had no idea,” Blanton said. “Watching him drive it out on the Supercross track during the finals in Vegas, in front of all the fans, was pretty rad too!”
Blanton wanted to express his thanks to the following parties: “Adam Fitza, as the lead builder and project manager, Craftsman and Lincoln Electric for giving us the tools to get this build done on time, and Ergodyne for the gear to keep us safe.”
Next time you hit the trail, remember the reason you are able to enjoy your hobby. What is your favorite part of the build? Tell us in the comments below!