Vortech Engineering Trophy Truck Ride Along - Shop Talk

0908chp_01_z Vortech_engineering Race_truck 1/2

LSX Power
A while back Bob Endress from Vortech Engineering offered me shotgun on an off-road excursion in a Trophy Truck he crews on. Of course, like most of you, I didn't hesitate to take that offer. There was one problem, however: coordinating our schedules to take advantage of this once-in-a-lifetime experience.

A year-and a dozen failed opportunities-later, the stars finally aligned and we were able to get together and have a little fun. At the crack of dawn I made my way out of the Valley, heading north to Agua Dulce, which is south of our now-defunct Los Angeles County Raceway in Palmdale. Upon my arrival I was greeted by Bob and met the owner of the truck, Kevin McGillivray, and his engine builder and co-driver, Nils Castillo.

Now keep in mind that while I've seen these trucks flat-out screaming on the tube, I've never actually been around one in person. Let me start by saying these things are huge, with their 39-inch-tall sneakers and coilover shocks with more than 2 feet of suspension travel! Man, talk about an engineering marvel. This Silverado-bodied tube chassis is one highly sophisticated machine. And at the heart-yep, you guessed it-a fuel-injected 427ci LSX small-block generating a tick over 700 hp. They had recently moved away from the carbureted configuration and switched over to a Kinsler fuel-injection setup with eight individual throttle bodies. In this particular application the results were greater tunability and an increase of 70 lb-ft of torque with a newly designed cam, similar specs with a tad less duration. That in itself gets me pretty excited, but it's a story for another day.

With everything loaded up, we hit the road and headed north to the testing grounds, near California City, where we met up with the rest of the crew. After a few quick blasts to make sure everything was up to par, it was my turn to get strapped in. To my surprise, sitting shotgun was extremely comfortable and I loved the overall layout of the cockpit, including the trick GPS unit that was directly in front of me. We did a quick radio check and were on our way.

As we headed onto the fire road, the first thing I noticed was the enormous amount of suspension extension anytime Kevin braked or turned during slow speeds. Once we made it to our section, it was time to enjoy the ride as he stabbed the throttle.

It was sick-the truck was wider than the path we were on, and there's so much going on at once that it's amazing these guys can pull off what they do. The GPS was already showing us cruising at nearly 90 mph through what could be considered car-inhaling whoops, bumps, and rocks of all shapes and sizes. I looked to my left. As smooth as the ride seemed, Kevin's arms were jerking around like a rodeo cowboy as he piloted the machine

My personal favorite was flying through the air. The first time we went up I was a little apprehensive, especially considering that I broke my back just three short years ago. Truth be told, I was in more pain from tensing up than the landing itself. But once I got over it I was a kid on the coolest rollercoaster ride in the world

I did learn two things. I can never thank these guys enough for this experience, and there is absolutely no doubt in my mind what motor is going to be dropped in between the fenderwells of our project F73 Camaro.

Now it's your turn. What's the greatest motorsports experience that left a lasting impression on you? Email us at the address below and share your stories!

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