1949 Ford F1 at Pikes Peak: Redneck missile

Markus Stier
1949 Ford F1 truck at Pikes Peak
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D he first thought is about Hook, the funny, rusty tow truck with buck teeth from the animated film Cars. This rusty old pickup is also missing the hood, unlike Hook, who only shines through the night on a headlight, this Ford F1 is blind in both eyes. The similarities end at the back. No boom with tow hook rises above the rear, but a five-part, adjustable rear wing made of clear-coated carbon.

Gammel truck attracts fans

At the fan festival in Colorado Springs, it takes a quarter of an hour to get a free shot at the projectile. The Gammel truck built in 1949 with the sonorous name “Old Smokey F1” receives no less attention than the Biturbo Mustang from gymkhana legend Ken Block parked next to it. No wonder, from the open engine compartment oozes at least as powerful a pile of iron, a 5.9-liter Cummins straight-six, which is remarkable for three reasons. Firstly, two fat Garrett turbochargers give it 1,233 hp, secondly, according to its proud owner, it is the most powerful light truck that has ever been registered for a Pikes Peak race, thirdly it is a diesel.

Markus Stier
1,233 PS, 2,700 Nm torque: That calls for all-wheel drive in 2019.

The diesel category was a more or less meaningless class in earlier years, in which German manufacturers like VW wanted to promote new SUV models. Like the Touareg, for example. Former rally professional Uwe Nittel holds the current diesel record in a Mercedes C300 4matic in 11.47.149 minutes.

No car seems more unsuitable for top marks than this ridden Ford, but the first impression is hugely deceptive.“Under the body, the car is a pure GT with a tubular space frame.” Scott is anything but a redneck, as the backwoods of the Midwest are called, he is a technician and runs a tuning company in California. Usually he works on modern Porsches, but he wanted something for the shop window, an eye-catcher, but not a blender that just looks good.

Piston damage prevents Pikes Peak start

Unter A very professional looking carbon fiber spoiler peeps out of the dented front bumper, in the cockpit Birdsall shifts four gears through the sequential racing gearbox with a massive aluminum lever. Behind the driver's cab is a powerful intercooler on the chassis, which the loading area had to give way. The chassis is based on adjustable struts with coil springs. The frame is welded from aircraft steel, at the back there is a powerful safety tank, underneath is the carbon diffuser.

According to Birdsall, the differential on the rigid axle distributes an incredible 2,700 Newton meters to the fat slicks - but not on this year's Pikes-Peak -Run. “We can't start,” says Birdsall, who camps in the paddock right next to the VW factory team. 'We had a damaged piston.'

Manfred Stohl nods. The altitude is a problem for internal combustion engines. If the diesels are not supposed to soot, they run too lean at great heights and there is kindling. Stohl is Birdsall's competitor. He wants to break the same record with a 72-series Beetle prototype with a two-liter TDI mid-engine and around 200 hp. Stohl will also fail because the race has been shortened after a heavy thunderstorm with snow and hail. Stohl believes that with the decrepit Beetle he would have had a good chance against Birdsall's monster truck.

“You first have to push it through the fast corners in the lower part, where you need an agile car, and into the turns in the middle section have to get all your strength down to the ground, ”says the rally veteran from Austria.

44-year-old Scott Birdsall is not a hillbilly and has drawn his conclusions. Old Smokey is stowed in the trailer and is on his way back over the Rockies. They will both be back next year, with a new engine - and with all-wheel drive.


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