The fiberglass and carbon fibered-body Freightliner Cascadia race semi of stunt driver Mike Ryan is a 5 ton mid-engine nimble beast, that's for sure. At the 2012 Pikes Peak event, a relationship formed between Mike Ryan and Gale Banks, resulting in a complete transformation of the Freightliner for the 2013 Pikes Peak event. The compound turbo system was replaced by a Super-Turbo setup, in which the 14.0L 6-cyliner Detroit Diesel 60 series engine was equipped with a turbocharger and 8.3 liter Lysholm style supercharger combination. The race truck is a water-methanol beast. A Banks Double-Shot system feeds a 50/50 mixture of water and methanol to the inlet of the supercharger. A Triple-Shot system feeds the intake manifold. Another Double-Shot Auto-Chiller system sprays distilled water on the exterior of the intercooler tubes. How much do these three systems add to engine output? Think in the 400hp range. A Straight-Shot Brake Cooler system sprays water onto the brake rotors for appropriate cooling and increased braking reliability. These are just a few of the trick things Banks did to the Freightliner to prep it for race day.
Pikes Peak Practice
Some steering component issues limited the Ryan/Banks Super-Turbo Freightliner to only one pass during Wednesday’s opening practice session on the upper third of the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb 156-turn 12.42-mile race course. However, this single test run provided ample system data about the compounded Banks Super-Turbo aircharging system at high altitude as well as the multiple Banks Straight-Shot ™ injection systems. This section of the course started at just over 13,000 feet and finished at the summit of the mountain, 14,110 feet. How does your vehicle perform at this altitude?
During Thursday’s Round 2 practice beginning at the starting line (elevation 9,400 feet), the race semi completed three full runs (to just below the cove) with no major problems despite a boost pressure bypass valve that would occasionally not seat fully, resulting in a performance-decreasing large post-turbocharger boost air leak. This problem was corrected at the end of practice, allowing the aircharging system to return to its proper performance and for Ryan to “test out” the behemoth’s drifting prowess in the parking lot.
Friday’s practice session consisted of the middle section of the track, which contained slower, technical corners as the road climbed up the ridgeline from Glen Cove (11,425 feet) to Devil’s Playground (13,000 feet). The truck’s rear axle ratio was changed to match engine output with track conditions. For greater off-corner acceleration, the supercharger drive ratio was increased. The truck ran very well during this practice session, posting a time three seconds better than the previous best from last year. Laying down more than 200 feet of rubber off the line, the truck proved to be an impressive competitor. The super-turbo combo worked well, as did the Banks Straight-Shot™ water-methanol injection systems. Mike drove the truck to Fan Fest Friday afternoon – yes, on the street, through town.
Mother Nature rebelled on race day, leaving the course battered with slippery debris from the rain, hail, and snow. Dangerous race conditions ensued, as decomposed granite scattered across the course created difficult conditions for putting the power to the ground. At the Pikes Peak starting line Sunday morning, Gale Banks reported: "I opened the door and told him [Mike Ryan] that I knew a record was not possible and not to risk his life trying, just get it to the top. I knew the mountain had already defeated some pretty experienced guys. He just looked down at me and said, 'thank you for that, Gale.'” Last year Ryan ran a 12:39.960; this year he ran a respectable 12:49.211.