Walking around the 2017 Sand Sports Show there were side-by-sides as far as the eye could see, but we were able to spot something special – Rhys Millen’s Pennzoil UTV is a purpose-built desert race car. This is chassis no. 01; the same car that he took to victory at the 2017 Baja 500.
Millen is a well-rounded driver with Rallycross, Pikes Peak, desert off-road, and Hollywood stunt driving on his resume. He is also an accomplished engineer and this car represents his concepts in car design. He has begun building these cars for customers as well. Spend 10 minutes talking with Rhys, and you will learn that his depth of knowledge runs deep.
The car is loaded with high-tech race parts from front to back. Tensor Tires are wrapped around Method Race Wheels’ new high offset forged racing bead lock wheel. A Big Gun stainless exhaust system runs out the back and you can also see the Heatshield Products high-temperature shielding to keep heat away from the engine.
Rhino 2.0 axles also drive the wheels out back. Notice there is more protective shielding mounted to the trailing arm. The brake calipers, CV’s, and rubber boots need to be protected from dirt and rocks.
Looking into the rear chassis section you can see the motor and the Safecraft fire protection system. Safecraft uses a fluid that works by removing any heat from the fire to extinguish the flame.
Notice the small tube and gussets welded to the trailing arm right in front of the sway bar end link. The tube is used to jack up the car for quick tire changes. Because of the long travel of the suspension, you would have to go very high in the air before the tire would be off the ground. There is a similar jacking point on both of the lower front a-arms as well.
Carbon fiber body panels are found throughout the car. It was designed to be lightweight and to keep whatever weight there is centered and down low to optimize the center of gravity. The longer you gaze at it, the more fine details and trick ideas you will find.