The Record Run: Break it, or Bust the Truck Trying

It all came down to one day. We’d hired a timing official to set up timing lights at El Mirage. We had the truck, trailer, and a crew of about 30 people giving support and help in any way they could -- from photography to changing nitrous bottles. Associate Editor Jason Sands explained the day of the attempt from the driver seat:

“A lot of people were asking me if I was nervous before the run, and I was, a little, but I got through most of the jitters the night before. At that moment, I was just aware of what it was I had to do. I knew I needed to manually shift the truck, hit both stages of nitrous, and keep an eye on the EGT gauge -- all while keeping the truck between the cones. I had practiced on dirt before, so I knew the truck and trailer were going to wander a little at high speed. The wandering isn’t so much of a sway, but more of a quick darting motion from side to side. Overcorrect, and I could cause a spin. Undercorrect, and the truck would make its way off course. Steering motions are made in quick flicks of the wrist rather than big, sweeping gestures.

With all of this in my head, I strapped in, put my fire jacket on, took a deep breath, and lowered the visor of my helmet. The timing official signaled that the course was clear, and I was off. The first run was mostly a test of the course, and I found that a little past a quarter-mile in was a pretty big bump that upset the truck and trailer. I lifted to about half-throttle (lifting all the way would’ve upset the vehicle even more) and then rolled back in it. I kept EGT at about 1,600, and then powered through the traps without activating the nitrous. It was pulling, but not much, and when the timer yelled out ‘120 mph!’ I felt a sinking feeling. I wasn’t sure if we would have enough to beat the record, even with the 10-percent extra fuel that Joe Komaromi from PPE had put in the tune the night before.

“There was nothing to do now but crack the bottle and see how far two 0.080 jets of nitrous could push us. This time, I waited until after the bump to nail it, but as the truck accelerated, the steering corrections I had to make multiplied, and by the last half mile of the course, I didn’t feel it was safe to take my hand off the wheel to grab the second stage of nitrous. I was movin’ as I went through the traps, but in the desert speed is hard to judge. If you would have told me I was going 130 mph or 150 mph, I would have believed either. I took a quick glance at the EGT gauge as I headed toward the last quarter mile and saw it was buried at 2,000 degrees. All I could think about was not crashing and mentally preparing for the engine to let go. Surprisingly, neither one happened, and the truck blistered through the traps at full power. As I came back to the timing tower, the crowd was giving me the thumbs-up. ‘You beat it!’ they yelled. The official speed was 139.33 mph. I had eked past the record by a mere .2 mph.

“I left the truck running so it could gradually cool down and talked to the PPE crew about the attempt. I told them I had seen 2,000 degrees on the pyrometer and asked if they wanted me to make another run. Joe Komaromi shrugged and simply said, ‘If we’re going to blow it up, now’s the time. We still have the second stage left.’ That sounded like a yes to me, so I suited up for the next pass.

“On the third run, I waited even longer to make everything happen. I turned on the first stage of nitrous, shifted into Sixth Gear, grabbed the button for the second stage, and held the truck and trailer at about 110 to 115 mph. I waited for a full 15 seconds before nailing it and hitting the button for the second stage and powering through the traps for the last half mile. I could hear the engine working hard and was pushed back in the seat as the second stage hit. I felt the truck hit an aerodynamic wall rather quickly, but it just felt faster than the previous run. As I returned to the pits, everyone was cheering again. We’d broken the 140-mph barrier -- and beaten the record by a full 3 mph, to the tune of 141.99 mph.

“After the champagne celebration, you might be thinking we loaded everything up and went home, but that actually wasn’t the case. We took the PPE Duramax, loaded in the freeway-friendly tune, and went out to dinner: truck, trailer, and all the hardware. As we pulled into the parking lot of a burger joint and ordered our food, we looked back out at the dusty truck and trailer in the parking lot. It was then that it hit us, we had just gone faster than anyone else on earth with a trailer a few hours ago and were now taking the same four-door truck out to dinner. And it doesn’t get any cooler than that.”

140-mph Towing: How it Applies to You

When we first introduced the idea of high-speed towing months and months ago, we got a whole flood of letters supporting our attempt, but we also got a surprising amount of backlash. “I have no idea why you’re doing this, I just want better fuel economy,” one reader wrote. Another indicated he didn’t think anything we did would apply to him.

As it turns out, virtually everything we did to break this world record can be thought of in normal, over-the-road terms. Aerodynamic load and drag holds a direct correlation to fuel economy. Building an efficient engine is another key to both towing with power and fuel efficiency. While our EGT limit was sufficiently higher than we’d ever recommend to anyone, there are similarities there, too. While you might not tow with nitrous, well-matched turbos (especially compounds) are very important to towing combinations. Load and speed rating of tires are a direct crossover, as is trailer tongue weight.

We didn’t just do this stuff because we could -- we did it for all you readers, too. You might not want to tow at 140 mph, but everything it took to get the truck and trailer there can be directly applied to a normal, 55-mph towing effort.

Kalispell by Carson Trailer Specifications
Price: $10,000
Size: 7 feet 6 inches x 10 feet 6 inches x 10 feet
Weight (dry): 2,670 pounds
Max weight (loaded): 5,200 pounds
Features: Fullsize LP/DC/110V refrigerator
6-gallon water heater
Insulated walls and ceiling
Single RV/marine battery
18,000 B.T.U. furnace
60-amp converter with 12-volt battery charger
Heavy-duty axle with electric brakes
2006 GMC 2500 Specifications
Price: $80,000 (est.)
Owner/Hometown: Joe Komaromi; Fullerton, California
Engine: 6.6-L Duramax diesel; ARP head and main studs, ported heads, Carrillo rods, and PPE pistons
Air: PPE compound turbos; Garrett GT4202 and GT5533
Fuel: PPE dual fuelers and 100-percent-over injectors
Programmer: PPE Hot+2 E.T. Race and EFILive
Transmission: Prototype PPE Stage 6
Suspension: Cognito steering braces and tie-rod sleeves
Wheels and Tires: 20x10 BMF Novokane, 305/50R20 Toyo Proxes ST II
Performance (calculated without trailer)
0 to 60 mph: 2.5 seconds
Quarter-mile Time and Speed: 10.8 seconds at 136 mph
Top Speed: 206 mph
Pacific Performance Engineering
303 N Placentia Avenue
CA  92831
Carson Trailer
14831 S. Maple Ave.
CA  90248