Off Road Racing Semi Truck?

by Wes Kibble on August 19, 2009

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Mike Lund drove this huge rig in the 1993 Baja 1000. 11,000lbs, 1800lbs of torque! It started last, after the Class 11 Beetles. Imagine racing in a stock VW Beetle and this beast coming up behind you! Make sure to click on the photo to read the whole story and view the video! This thread on Race Dezert has all kinds of information on this unique race truck. Some of the quotes include

“Bill Savage built, Mike Lund driving. Baja 500 around ’93. Named “Wild Thing”. Bill took me over to see it after the race at another unit around the corner from his T-Mag shop. The budget was reported to be $500,000 which was a huge number in those days and include several Ford chase trucks painted to match.”



“You’re right about not finishing, but not the reason. It broke. It was either the front suspension, (cross link I think), or the steering. It happened just before Borrego on the first loop. The gap in Matomi was our concern about getting through. We never made it that far.
Mike Lund and Mary Seefried in the truck started dead last in the race. Behind the Class 11’s. Ron Stobaugh and Dave Rittenhouse were waiting with us at the Wild Thing pit in Borrego to get in and take the bottom loop. Never happened. We were hosting a big group of Navistar and Cummins VIP’s there. They did not find the rain to their liking any more than the cold Baja night. Can you imagine being in that first Class 11 and seeing this thing in your mirror! Then the shadow comes over the top…”


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“Baja 1000 starting and finishing in Mexicali. Mike Lund driving, Marty Seefried co-dawg. I was the 2nd co-dawg scheduled to get in at Borrego. There were many “firsts” with this program:

Live satelite tracking, communication and telemetry. We could watch the progress of the truck on a virtual race map (think ion earth or iritrack), along with speed, oil temp, individual shock temp, water temp, turbo boost, etc. We could send messages to the truck, they could send to us, engineers in Indiana were also watching live and could communicate with the truck. All this 14 years ago!

There was also a very complex hospitality program for over 30 guests, some of the most powerful in the transportation industry (Cummins, Navistar, Allison, UPS, Yellow Freight, FedEx, etc) led by Bob Bower, Marty Fiolka and myself. Big dinner partys, hospitality in the desert, entertainment, golf, pre-run tours (think Wide Open Baja).

That was some of the good. Some of the bad was the truck being late to it’s debut party for the funding sponsors (total budget was reported at the time well over the above amount…). The lack of testing resulted in the DNF – not the size and washes. Mike and Marty did an incredible job getting that truck around the course but it finally failed after the shocks blew, then the air bags, letting the i-beams pound the frame. It was field repaired and Mike and I drove it back to Mexicali on the highway the next day.”

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“Judy Smith reported in the January 1995 Dusty Times the following:
“There was one other entry in this event, the huge “Wild Thing”, built by Bill savage for Cummins Engine Corp., to simulate the cab of an 18-wheeler. It was 8 1/2 feet tall, 8 feet wide, 16 feet long, and reportedly weighed 9,000 pounds when fully loaded with its 160 gallons of diesel fuel. It was supposed to finish without taking on more fuel. Mike Lund was the driver. The car was equipped with a Global Positioning System device, similar to that used by the MacPherson team a couple of years ago, and would be tracked through the Cummins command post back in Mexicali.

Lund got off to a good start, and even managed to pass some Class 11 cars (what an experience for them!) and some stragglers, but a shock, spring and strut assembly fell apart at about Mile 175. After repairs, Lund got it to Borrego, at Mile 192, and around, through the Mini Summit, (a sight I wish I’d seen), and back to Borrego again. By then the storm had knocked out the communications network they’d set up, and it was decided that it would be prudent to call it a day, especially considering that Matomi Wash still lay ahead.”

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“It broke a front pivot just before Borrego in the rain. We got it fixed, got to the pit and welded on it somemore. In the midst of welding one of the brake lines got burnt, without anyone’s knowledge. We get fixed, go out into the night, to find ourselves at the top of the mini summit with only front brakes. Keep in mind, it didn’t stop very good when new. Down we go as slow as possible, only to find out we are going down faster than we want to be. “well, lets see if those guy’s at Allison can back thier word about the trans.”. Into reverse she went, 11K lbs. bouncing down the mini summit with 39″ tires going backwards, I remember looking back at them saying “awesome”. Got down headed back to Borrego through all those big rolling whoops in the trees. Every now and then we would hit a really bad fog patch, well it wasn’t fog, it was the shocks getting so hot, it blew the ends of the resoviors (sp) off. By the way, shock oil doesn’t whipe off your visor with a rag so well. Got back to the pit, no more shocks, 2 where bent earlier in the day when the pivit broke and the whole brake thing kinda sucked. Basically ran out of time and parts.

I dug through some notes here: 11,000lbs., 130MPH top speed, twin I beem front and solid axle rear ( big diesel looking one), M-11 straight 6, turbo, 400HP, 1800 ft/lbs of torque @1200RPM, 6 speed Allison trans. (electronic shift modes) (even the down hill reverse mode), cool little satallite tracking thingy, and all kinds of neat little switches to flip.

It was fast, thats for sure. It was raining on the start (all day for that matter), we passed all the 11’s, all the 9’s, lots of stock full’s, and some of those thruck things and where out on Laguna Salada in the mud. One lane, don’t dare get out of it. We come up on a 5 car and followed this guy for too long already, “go around him” I say, Mike “OK, here we go”, we pull out, the thing down shifts and we go by this guy like he’s standing still, in a foot of mud, at 70-80 mph, now that’s some torque.”

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“Marty, You forgot the part about getting stuck in the sand going to the mini summit. Hence the need for 4 wheel drive. When we weighed this thing it weighed 10,400 pounds with two people in it and 40 gallons of fuel on board. And it promptly buried itself up to the diff when it saw the sand going to the mini summit. It took all three of our full sized, 3/4 ton, 4 wheel drive, Cummins powered chase trucks, chained together, numerous attempts to pull this thing threw the 200-400 yards of sand leading to the mini summit.”
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{ 10 comments… read them below or add one }

Marty Seefried December 19, 2010 at 6:24 pm

Great article, was the 1994 Baja 1K and doesnt seem that long ago. send in the fat lady. lol

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mike maass July 7, 2011 at 10:49 am

I was involved in the development of the communication from the trucks electronics to the satelite system, also was there for the race. I forgot about a bunch of the small details. I do remember the saying of send in the fat lady when you could not go any more. Great times that never been repeated in my career.

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Marty Seefried July 10, 2011 at 8:22 am

Hi Mike, I do remember you, to its demise I believe that phrase is famous now. The system kept picking that particular phrase to keep sending over and over again. I kept typing things in, and it kept choosing that one for some reason. good times for sure. you ever see it any more? take care, Marty

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Mike Maass July 10, 2011 at 3:22 pm

I left Cummins about 15 years ago. Haven’t seen or heard about the Wild Thing ever since. My daughter husband works at Cummins now and he hasn’t mentioned it. Shame that they didn’t continue that type of advertisement.Don’t think I will ever have that type of adventure again in my career. Plus being young helps with the schedule and camping out in the desert.
Thanks for replying to my last post. Good time, good memories.

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Paul Ebaugh October 12, 2012 at 7:42 am

Yesterday I reconnected with Mike Maass and he forwarded to me this link. I was the project manager for the communications, tracking and electronic systems on-board and led a small team of 3 to design and develop the GPS tracking, satellite communications, on-board electronics and PC reporting software. We worked with Trimble Navigation and Comsat on the GPS tracking and Satellite communications and interfaced to the CELECT engine controler and Allison electronically controlled transmission. From project definition to race day we had 8 weeks! Fun project and definitely remember sleeping around the fire on the desert floor that race night at the base camp. I have many photos and when I left Cummins Electronics in 1996 the guys had this great picture they framed for me as a parting gift which I still have on the wall. PS. While at Cummins I remember the marketing guys putting together a nice video of around 8 minutes of the truck, the race and the technology. Does anyone know how I could get a copy?

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Curtis Guise October 13, 2012 at 12:27 am

Thanks for posting Paul! Sorry I don’t know where that video is but if you have any more pictures and info you want to send of it please send me an email.

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Dale DeBoer July 17, 2012 at 12:35 pm

I was also at this event. Was invited because we were a customer.
I still have the invite and the promotional packet sent to me by John Mcdonald
(navistar) at that time. It has a lot of history about the truck,Drivers,pictures and so on maybe it belongs in a archive.
Also have a shirt (polo) with wild thing embroider on it.

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David Hendrickson June 30, 2013 at 6:05 pm

I raced class 11 the year this thing raced the Baja 1000, I led class 11 for quite a distance and this thing was not seen by me all day or night, it never passed me or got within sight of me, just putting some truth to this story telling.

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Dale Deboer July 3, 2013 at 6:11 am

Dave.
I was in the race trailer at the half way mark (fuel stop) they had a broken shock and no spare I think they short cutted to get their and Im thinking they short cutted to finish line so all the customers could see them finish. Just like racing forget one part like a 5/16×3.25 bolt and thats the part that broke. No spare shock ????

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Marty Seefried July 3, 2013 at 12:23 pm

DH, I don’t recall ever having said that we passed ALL the 11 car’s. You were just THAT fast perhaps. Anyhow Dale, it made it back to Borrego and that’s when we decided to pull the plug. Some of the crew then drove it on the highway back to Mexicali. Hope this clarifies the story telling.

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