Anything worth doing is worth doing right. It’s a saying that most of us have heard before. But sometimes it may get set by the wayside in the middle of a project. Tight budgets and timelines can make it tough for some of us to get everything done just the way we want.
This can be especially true if the off-roading season is short where you live. Some off-roaders will be quick to point out that any time of year is good for an off-road adventure. While we tend to agree, it really does depend on what kind of wheeling you’re into.
For some wheelers, there is a certain need to push their vehicles to their absolute limits every time they go out. When you drive like that it tends to make sense that you should purpose build your rig.
Time To Go Big
Such is the case for Troy and Sarah Dominic and their 2012 Chevy Silverado. They discovered that even though they have a lot of love for anything off-road, they really love to go fast. In particular, they really love to go fast in the sand. After owning a first-generation Ford Raptor for a while, they realized that they needed to step up their game a bit.
“The only natural progression is to go faster,” Troy explained. It’s not a question of whether or not you can make it over that hill. It’s a question of how fast can I go over it.”
To accomplish their speed goal, they enlisted Ryan Lenger of Lenger Racing in Grand Rapids, Michigan. The plan was to build a luxury prerunner that could handle the speed and abuse they love to place on their rigs. However, there was a caveat to this little plan. Sarah and Troy live in Michigan. In Michigan, the best place to get on the sand is at the Silver Lake Sand Dunes. Unfortunately, the dunes are not open year-round.
The couple talked with a few different shops about the build and their timeline. With only a few months out of the year available for dune time, every weekend was precious. During those discussions, the couple was searching for trucks that would serve as a good platform for their build plans.
The Wish List
First on the list was big travel. The couple loves to go fast but that speed means the truck will take some big hits. High travel numbers and capable shocks were a must. In addition, keeping the luxury in this luxury prerunner concept was key. Bluetooth capability, a sound system that will blow clothing off, and suspension seating were all on the list.
Anyone that has ridden in a truck with big travel, aggressive tires, and bypass shocks knows that they are not quiet. Quiet was another item on the wishlist, and thanks to extra sound-deadening materials, this truck is quiet. Like, weirdly quiet. Both Dynamat soundproofing and a mass loaded vinyl product were installed by Sarah and Troy personally. In fact, Troy estimates that they may have added as much as 200-300 pounds of extra material to achieve their ideal interior noise level!
In the end, after months of searching and discussing, Troy and Sarah knew they had to make a choice and get started. After all, dune season was rapidly approaching. The couple settled on a truck and flew out to get it. They then gave Ryan Lenger the news. Ryan was picked due to his exceptional attention to detail, build quality, and his ability to nail their timeline. They were not disappointed.
The new team first discussed the expectations and future plans for the build. “Troy didn’t just jump into a back-halved truck,” Ryan explained. “He took his time. He’s has had the chance to experience leaf springs. He’s had the chance to experience horsepower. He’s had the chance to experience travel. It was important that we build something that could continue to grow.”
Right now, Troy describes the truck as being at stage “one and a half.” The future will see a complete build at stage five.
The front suspension is considered complete. The back half of the truck was built with the intention of cutting the frame eventually. Therefore, the Lenger Racing team made sure that all of the components are bolt-in – everything from the engine cage to the complete rear modifications can be removed.
“Again, we wanted to build it so that it could grow with them,” said Ryan. “We did it this way so that when Troy is ready to move on, we can unbolt things and level up. That’s why it’s so important to have a relationship with the customer. We had these conversations early on. Knowing Troy and knowing his long-term plans informs everything we do. It’s also great because he can take everything off and he can sell it to the next guy for a great deal. Essentially, he can offset a little of his costs. It’s good for everyone.”
“In the beginning, we don’t know each other,” Ryan continued. “Over time, you build that relationship and then we can talk about things that can wait versus things that are urgent. Once that happens, the process moves along a lot faster. That relationship takes time to build trust.”
The front suspension duties are handled with components from Baja Kits, along with RCV axle shafts. The chosen kit is a four-wheel-drive long-travel race kit. This decision was made because Troy wanted to retain four-wheel-drive functionality.
Two-Wheel-Drive Or Four-Wheel-Drive?
The reasoning for this was twofold. Troy clarified: “I went back and forth about four-wheel-drive for months. We knew that it would be cheaper to go two-wheel-drive. We also knew it would mean fewer components. I wanted Sarah to have peace of mind in the truck’s off-road ability. I didn’t want her to have to think about how or where she parks or getting enough momentum for certain things. Also, my son Ty will be driving it in the next couple of years. The idea was for both of them to be able to drop it into four-wheel-drive and go. Also, I just like going fast! In a truck, four-wheel-drive will put the power down. That’s what’s fun for us.”
The front kit comes complete with a pair of three-inch-diameter King race series coilovers. Three tube bypasses are utilized and are fully adjustable to Troy’s driving style and terrain preference. 2.5-inch King bump stops also ensure that the front is able to soak up the big hits. PRP limiting straps prevent the suspension from extending too far.
Speaking of big hits, the custom bumper and skid plate were designed and built by Ryan and Lenger Racing to take all the abuse Troy can throw at them. The KC Hilites six-inch Apollo PRO lights turn the night into day. That way, the party can go on all night.
In the engine bay, the most obvious change is the custom engine cage. It was developed and installed to mount all of the suspension parts. Not only has it been done with a nod toward aesthetics, but it is also super beefy. The cage is completely bolt-on in accordance with the plan to make sure the truck can grow as needed. The back of the engine bay houses an sPOD power distribution system that keeps all of the electronic systems happy.
In the rear, 3.5-inch King race series three-tube bypass shocks control dampening. 2.5-inch King bump stops also work to ensure that things don’t compress too harshly. All of these components bolt onto a custom bed cage.
A custom dual spare tire carrier and bumper combination stow the spares in an easy location. KC Flex chase lights and a CBR transmission cooler are also located in the bed. The rear leaf springs are underslung Deavers. They are located on the frame rail by Mazzula hangers and shackles.
Lenger Racing went with Toyo 37-inch mud terrain tires that are wrapped around Method beadlocks. The FiberwerX fenders and bedsides look fantastic and ensure that there won’t be any rubbing when the suspension cycles. The front glass also accentuates the slightly massaged headlights.
Since the whole family will be taking part in the adventures, safety was a top concern. The custom interior features PRP seats and harnesses. A cool feature is that Lenger Racing was able to maintain the seat adjustability controls by mounting on the factory seat tracks. A bolt-in harness bar maintains the bolt while providing safety. A custom Extreme Audio 12.5-inch sub-box is also tucked neatly behind the rear seats.
Without question, the attention to detail and craftsmanship on this build is exceptional. Anyone that visits the Silver Lake Sand Dunes is going to want to check out this build if they see it flying by.