The kings of desert racing have long been a purpose-built trophy truck – tube-chassis-built, 900-horsepower, two-wheel-drive beasts that weigh over 4,000 pounds. They are (or have been) piloted by the likes of BJ Baldwin, Ivan Stewart, Justin Lofton, Larry Ragland, Bryce Menzies, and more, and are built from names like Jimco Racing, Geiser Brothers, and other industry titans.
But these kings of desert racing are not all glistening perfect objects. By and large, the trucks are susceptible to the elements when raging across Baja California at 100+ miles an hour, and break drivetrains in this and other environments. Not to mention, the two-wheel drive has been a limitation in how much these vehicles could truly conquer, as the loss in traction can be punishing in silt beds and gravel sections.
This was the impetus that spurred racer and fabricator Robby Woods to pursue his largest, costliest, and most back-breaking project yet: the Million Dollar Diesel. By taking a fresh look at what made trophy trucks deficient and addressing them head-on, Robby crafted one of the most amazing trucks to ever grace the floors of the Las Vegas Convention Center.
We saw the Million Dollar Diesel at the Aeromotive booth in the Central Hall, and heard from Chevrolet that the truck had been entered into the Design Awards for 2016. We stopped by to get a closer look at this truck and what it had in store for the off-road world.
Built under Robby’s Battleborn Engineering brand, the MDD was every bit as imposing and larger-than-life as we had come to expect. As a three-quarter-ton, crew cab Duramax, it had the outside appearance of a normal truck, but the real intrigue was below the surface.
Opening the doors to this trophy truck, we could see firsthand that this was definitely not just a caged prerunner built inside of three months. As Robby described, this had been in the works for more than two years – and we could tell. The tubing was everywhere, and its two-inch thickness spoke to extreme durability and rigidity. Along the back of the cab and in the roof, it came together in eight-point junctions with clean, professional TIG welding.
The drivetrain, a Wagler-built 6.6-liter Duramax and six-speed Allison 1000 transmission was mounted in a mid-engine fashion astride where the driver would sit. Two long tubes ran to the back, where we found the compound Precision turbochargers – one Pro Mod 98 atmospheric turbocharger, and two 62/66 high-pressure turbochargers – ready to give this vehicle an ungodly amount of boost. Fueling is an issue that desert racers must deal with in the strongest ways possible, and it looks like the MDD has it with a Battleborn-built 100-gallon fuel cell, Aeromotive 230 gph lift pump and regulator, and S&S Diesel CP3 fuel pumps (three of them) and injectors.
The suspension setup is just as astounding, too. Up front, this trophy truck uses dual A-arms, giving the MDD 25 inches of travel, while the rear has an adjustable four-link. King 3.0-inch remote reservoir coilovers and 4.5-inch five-tube bypass/remote reservoir coilovers were on each corner, along with King 2.5-inch bump stops and custom-made sway bars.
The Million Dollar Diesel is a testament to Robby’s tenacity and smart design work. The truck is still sorting out a couple of issues, but once it’s done, we definitely want to see what it can do.