Trophy Trucks: the ultimate desert racers
What does it take to drive one at 140mph? Tom Ford finds out…
Posted: 02 Oct 2013
This is more like it. A bare hour outside of Vegas is BJ's test area, and the kind of scenery I'm more used to seeing Trophy Trucks batter their way across. A huge salt pan surrounded by tracks and trails wound through scrubby, sharp-looking desert and ground-hugging foliage sporting the kind of spikes usually found on medieval armour. The sun is 40-degree hot, but I'm the one who's about to explode. Safety first, and it takes an age to get suited up, fix HANS devices and tighten belts. Hoses and lines are attached to my helmet - one for comms, one for piped, clean fresh air - and Fedor's virtually unsilenced V8 fires up. It sounds like a drag car, guttural, phlegmy, fan-bloody-tastic. Hook first from the manual auto (there's no clutch, but you still shift the gears yourself on a linear shifter) and pull away.
Fedor, as it turns out, is surprisingly easy to drive. Initially. Build some speed on the flat, shift to second with a slur, and then third. We won't see first again until we stop. The steering is eerily quick and totally numb, the enormous power assistance needed to stop drivers ending up with forearms like tree stumps with thumbs. Feet are clasped in little metal shoes that sit over the two pedals, there to stop your feet from bouncing on and off the controls when going fast over rough ground. BJ is talking to me, telling me to go faster, not to be afraid of the bumps. Only they aren't bumps. They're more like midget mountains. Obviously, not wanting to look like a wuss, I gun it.
All hell breaks loose.