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BIG BLOCK BUGGY RPI Racing Works With Alumi Craft And Wik’s Racing Engines To Build A Custom Class 1 Buggy By Dan Sanchez Photos by Get Some Photo During the early days of SCORE Baja racing, Class 1 vehicles dominated the desert and have transformed over the years to be faster, more powerful, and more agile. SCORE saw the class move from Chenowth VW powered buggies to Porsche power a la the McMillin Macadu, to bigger chassis with V8 power with unique chassis like the Herbst “LandShark” Truggy. Lately, the talk among SCORE buggy racers has been about All-Wheel Drive, but RPI Racing took it a step further, building a new Class 1 that is bound to make some waves. “The Class has been a little stale lately, and we wanted to work with Alumi Craft to build something that we’ve always wanted to try,” said RPI Racing owner Kevin Reid. “After our Class 1 car burned in a fire, we approached Alumi Craft to build a longer wheel-base buggy that would work with 40-inch diameter tires and have more horsepower.” The result was the team’s new Class 1 car, in which former SCORE Class 1 Champ Shelby Reid will be co-piloting with her son Cody, a former Class 10 champion. “Shelby and Cody have always wanted to race together, and this new car also gave us an opportunity to do that.” The car is not your typical AWD buggy chassis, however, as the Reid’s have had custom work done to it to fit their needs. One of the most important changes was taking out the small block Chevy LS power plant and using a big block Chevy instead. “In our past Class 1 car, we would always push the engine hard, so we worked with Adam Wik at Wik’s Racing Engines to build us a big block Chevy power plant that we wouldn’t have to work as hard to make more power,” said Reid. “The big block also allows us to get more out of the engine for the entire race season.” The engine in the new buggy is a 565 CID Chevrolet V8 with a Kinsler throttle body that, according to Reid, was built conservatively with low compression, relying on the displacement for the power. The power plant is also controlled by Motec electronics, of which James Lin Motorsports programmed the computer system. According to Reid, the engine makes around 890 horsepower and 790 lbs.-ft. torque. “The electronics are all the same as what you would find on a SCORE Trophy Truck,” says Reid. “To us, it’s essentially a Trophy Truck on a Class 1 buggy chassis with the engine out back.” As with all buggy-chassis vehicles, the limiting factor to adding more power has been the transaxle, but Reid worked with Weddle to accommodate the added horsepower and the AWD on their new buggy. “We’re using a Weddle Albins transaxle and driveline with an air-clutch and front differential that they recently designed,” said Reid. “The torque of the big block pushes all four wheels. James programmed the system to sense off-throttle disengagements, brake pressure, and more, all of which disengage the front drive, allowing the buggy to turn better and reach a higher top speed. So far, after lots of testing, the drivetrain all works flawlessly, but there were some alterations to the design of the chassis to make it all work. Since the trans uses an air clutch, Alumi Craft had to mount an air tank and design a different fuel cell to make it all fit. They also beefed up the CV joints to use a Series 30 at the rear, and a Micro Stub front hub, thanks to help from Pro Am.” Aside from the drivetrain, the Reid buggy also has some other custom features that were added. One of these was the need to change seat positions between Shelby and Cody. “Shelby is shorter than Cody, so in the past when Shelby would change drivers, she had to use cushions so she could see over the hood,” said Reid. “This time, we asked Alumi Craft for a quick way to adjust the seats and they came up with an electronically actuated system.” A pushbutton on the dash repositions the seat for the drivers and according to Reid, Shelby is in a proper seating position for safety and to see clearly over the hood. The buggy is also outfitted with an electronic air conditioning unit that helps keep Shelby and Cody cooler in the Baja desert, and the suspension has also been upgraded to allow the use of 40-inch BFGoodrich Tires that are mounted on Raceline Wheels. “When we first started racing in Class 1 and 10, we used 35-inch tires, then moved up to 37’s,” said Reid. “Putting BFG 40’s on the buggy is a night and day difference. Not only do we get more ground clearance, but you don’t feel the harsh bumps as much. The car is much more comfortable driving. Raceline also developed a new wheel for us that is forged and has the proper backspacing where the wheel wraps around the hub.” Reid and the family have been testing the car since the time it was first delivered to them and they have been ecstatic about its overall performance. “We tested the heck out of it,” said Reid. “This is a 128-inch wheelbase chassis that also gives us more suspension travel, and the car is scary fast. In testing, we had the car up to 155 mph and there was a lot more left in it.” After what seems like a long hiatus from racing due to the loss of their previous Class 1 car and COVID, the Reid family will be back with their new car at the 34th BFGoodrich Tires SCORE San Felipe 250 Presented By Ford, and will be monitoring closely what the car will do. “We know a new car still has bugs to work out of it, but we’re also working closely with Wik and Weddle to see how the engine and drivetrain pan out,” says Reid. “Our hopes are to have everything worked out by the SCORE Baja 1000, as that will be a Peninsula run. Of course, we want to win the class, but we think the car can perform to finish in the top five overall.” SJ

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