The Joint Venture is larger than life, created from the body of a 1997 Freightliner. While the typical highway hauler truck is powered by a six-cylinder engine that’s 60 inches long and 3,000 pounds, the Joint Venture’s MTU Series 2000 engine is designed for huge mine haul trucks. The monstrous 16-cylinder engine is nine feet long, weighs 10,000 lbs. and is capable of producing 3,000 hp. The truck is highly modified to accommodate this tsunami of power, with giant turbochargers, Boeing 737 rear tires, front tires from a F-15 fighter and a large parachute to bring it to a stop.
The Joint Venture made its debut on the Salt Flats in 1990. Since then, it has returned every year, raising the bar many times to the current world record in its class: 228.804 mph. Last year marked the first time the truck was powered by a Series 2000 engine, supplied by MTU distributor Pacific Power. The engine performed perfectly and the truck flew down the five-mile track at a top speed of 220 mph. However, on its fourth run on the Salt Flats, the torque was so great that the truck’s axles broke and the team had to withdraw.
Don Lemmons, owner of the Joint Venture, says, “The truck is so fast that we have no place for test runs, other than the Salt Flats. There is no handbook for this type of vehicle. We just have to do what we think is right and hope for the best. This year, we had new axles built with high tensile steel. And we brought the engine to Detroit Remanufacturing for testing, to see what we can do to improve efficiencies and get more power and torque.”
During dynamometer testing at Detroit Remanufacturing’s facility in Utah, the team monitored engine data and made adjustments to maximize performance. “When we tested it, the sound was so big it attracted a crowd. People wanted to see what was going on. It was exciting. We all were like kids in a candy shop,” says Stephan Hunt, Lead Dyno Operator at Detroit Remanufacturing.