The Midwest Dirtfest was an awesome event held in July. If you missed out on our recap be sure to check it out. This gathering of everything desert truck, prerunners, and off-road is unique to the region, but still very popular. Off Road Xtreme went out looking to share some of these vehicles. So, how do you narrow down the top favorite three Midwest Dirtfest prerunners from this year’s event? What I consider awesome may be considered trivial or boring to someone else. In the end, for me, it’s not just appearance and function, it’s the story of and behind the vehicle.
If a person has a great job and works very hard they can make a lot of money. They can then take that money and pay someone to build them a really nice ride. Is that as good of a story as a 23-year-old that works a minimum wage job and still builds a long-travel prerunner on a budget? For me both stories have merit. The 23-year-old is probably going to be the story I tell though. If the story is important to you as well then I invite you to read on about the three best Midwest Dirtfest prerunners we are showcasing here.
Midwest Dirtfest Prerunners In No Particular Order
First up is a 2012 Ford F-150 owned by Dylan Rollo. Dylan works for a trucking company and happens to be best friends with the owner. One day while watching some videos, the pair decided that they could build a truck like the ones they saw. After doing some research they came across a basic 2012 F-150 up for sale. Originally, it was used as a work truck for the first year Rollo owned it, but then went under the knife. “It’s been about a five-to-six-year process to get to where it is now.” Dylan says.
About two years ago, a friend rolled the truck in some sand dunes. Dylan had to make a choice. Repair it or improve on it. It was at that point he chose to work with the same friend to make some upgrades.
Construction Of A Real Prerunner
The back half was tubed using a T.E. Designs back-half kit originally designed for an early 2000’s Chevy. This of course required quite a bit of fabrication to make work. The cab was replaced and it was time for basically a complete redesign of the suspension. “There’s always room for improvement. I’m continuously looking for things I can do to improve it. They say that they’re never really all the way done,” Dylan explains with a smile.
The functionality of a prerunner is really what made Dylan become interested in these trucks. After losing function of his right arm following a motorcycle accident nine years ago, he knew he wanted something that had a cage.
With Age Comes A Cage
“I figured I should probably get away from the two-wheel game after that. As they say, with age comes a cage,” Dylan says with a smirk. “Although there are more prerunners every year in the Midwest, it is still a small community. It’s a cool community and everyone is always willing to help each other out. There are no track secrets, and there are no dune secrets. That’s the fun part. There is never really a formal meeting of people. Instead, you just know people from their trucks, and after a while you get to know their first names. Then it snowballs from there!”
The truck features a 92-inch track width and a 139-inch wheelbase. There is 24 inches of rear suspension travel, and it is both bumped and strapped to limit travel. The front suspension features 19 inches of travel, and is also bumped and strapped. 2.5-inch King Shock coilovers with triple bypasses handle dampening up front. A Baja Kits race kit puts it all together in the front. Out back we find 2.5-inch triple-bypass King coilovers.
Power is supplied via a Ford 5.0-liter Coyote engine. It is fed go-juice via a 34-gallon fuel tank. A custom Black Widow exhaust with long-tube headers carries away the exhaust. Yokohama Geolander 37-inch tires are wrapped around the 17-inch Method Race Wheel beadlocks. A KC HiLites Carbon-pod LED foldable roof light rack helps light the way during night runs.
Jesse Kline’s Midwest Prerunner Ranger
Jesse Kline is a guy who’s not interested in the limelight. He’s a private person that wants to do cool things with cool people but not really brag about it. After a quick chase, we nailed him down to discuss his 1999 Ford Ranger. About six or seven years ago, Jesse’s neighbor introduced him to the Silver Lake Sand Dunes and prerunner-style trucks. After that, he was hooked. Jesse is a fabricator by trade, so the work involved with creating a prerunner was new but a bit familiar.
“This truck was my first try, and we really didn’t know what we were doing. For the most part, all of the parts on the truck were built right in my shop. From the trailing arms to the A-arms, they were cut, bent, and welded in my shop. I think we did pretty good for a first try,” Jesse also shares, “I got super excited about it, and last year I was able to take a year off of work and go to California for fabrication school. I was able to work with and learn from Danny Giannini from Terra Crew.”
That opportunity set Jesse up to improve his technical skill set. He gained the most benefit from learning on the design end. “Not having an ego and being willing to learn makes all the difference,” he said.
Ryan Lister’s 2010 Chevy Silverado Prerunner
Our final ride belongs to Ryan Lister. His 2010 Chevy Silverado won the jump contest for the truck class, and sent the crowd into a frenzy. Ryan bought the truck in 2019, and it was originally set up as a short course and street truck. At this point in its life it is powered by a 408 cubic-inch LS stroker motor. The big plant is backed up by a 4L80-E with a reverse-manual valve body.
A set of 40-inch BFGoodrich tires are wrapped around 17-inch Innov8 Racing Wheels. They are backed up by 42.5-inch Super Swampers on the rack. The spares reside on the same wheels, mounted on the bed cage. There is a total of 18 inches of travel in the front. In the rear, 28 inches of travel soaks up the big hits. Big hits are always on the horizon for this truck.
The truck was entrusted to Lenger Racing and originally started with an LSK race kit. Since then, chromoly lower arms and fabricated crossmembers have been added. The truck also has LSK 2.5-inch hubs on all four corners. The rearend has a 10-inch ring and pinion with 40-spline axles. A 100-gallon fuel cell makes sure there is plenty of “go” on hand at all times.
Prerunners Are Fun They Said
Ryan is a friend of one of the event organizers, Tyson Ahrens. After riding in Tyson’s truck at the Silver Lake Sand Dunes, Ryan wanted his own. Because they knew each other, it was a natural progression for Ryan to get involved in the fun at The Midwest Dirt Fest.
“I think MDF is the event of the year for all the trucks to get together,” Ryan admits. “This was the second year the truck was entered in the jump contest. Last year, both the trucks and side-by-sides were in the same class and the crowd decided the winner. So with that said, I guess this is the second year the truck won the jump contest. I like the jump contest but feel we have about maxed the length out due to the lack of landing. Of course it could go further but you’re just at the point of breaking things due to a true flat landing. All in all, I do love the jump contest and how much the crowd gets into it.”
While the truck works great, some improvements are always in the works. The 3.5-inch axle housing is getting swapped out with a Lenger Racing 4-inch chromoly housing. The Upper A-arms are being upgraded to chromoly J-arms. This is being done to fit new 4-inch race-series front bypass shocks. The exterior will also get some love with new fenders and a new paint scheme or wrap.
Three Favorites Of The Midwest Dirtfest Prerunners
After all the grit and grime is knocked off, it’s hard to think of a better event in the Midwest than The Midwest Dirtfest. Both participants and attendees got the chance to see some high-flying action. Now, they also get the chance to learn the stories behind a few of the builds and how these machines came to be. We will definitely be back next year to bring you all the best rides and the stories behind them.