In the twilight of the 20th century, the global community was stunned by sensational news. Trucks can fly! No, it’s not that the engineers were able to make large and heavy trucks overcome the force of gravity. It’s just that some enthusiastic inventors can now accelerate their vehicles to go faster than airplanes.
A record-holder in this intriguing discipline is the Shockwave truck. A four-tonne Peterbilt Semi hottie bears the title of the world’s fastest-accelerating truck. This incredible vehicle was built by Les Shockley in 1984. In 2012, 64-year-old Neal Darnell purchased this wonder-truck and rebuilt it together with his 31-year-old son Chris. After hitting the speed of 605 km/h, the new owner was speaking to automotive journalists: “It’s an awesome experience,” said Neal. “You won’t believe it until you see it. It comes powered by three jet engines that generate a monstrous 36,000 hp helping it to reach the speed of 643 km/h. It demolishes a quarter mile distance in just 6.5 seconds”.
It might be difficult to imagine but after watching a video you start to believe that this truck can sprint to 412 km/h in just 6.36 seconds. The Shockwave needs just 11 seconds to jump to 483 km/h. During the similarly named show organised by the owner of this vehicle, the Shockwave doesn’t compete with other monster trucks, it races aeroplanes instead!
However, we do have another record-holder to tell you about. Fourteen years after the first sensation, the global automotive community was rocked by yet another bombshell. A Hawaiian fireman built the world’s fastest truck! Previously, excessive loads, specific steering and design characteristics did not allow travelling faster than 90 km/h. But the Hawaiian Eagle can reach a whopping 600 km/h. And that’s not the limit.
The fate of this high flyer was sealed in 1995 when Shannen Seydel, the future holder of the world record, purchased a 1940 Ford fire truck.
Seydel decided to beat the planet’s fastest trucks with the help of aircraft jet engines. Sure enough, he wasn’t hoping to go supersonic but he had no doubt in his mind that he would succeed.
The iron monster seemed ready to fight for victories. However, the inventor encountered a serious problem. At that time, there was no racing track, which could host the trials.
Just imagine that after reaching the speed of a jet plane there is no way to stop the vehicle otherwise than crash it against an obstacle. In any other case, it would just flip over. That is why all experienced drivers know that the steering angle of their huge trucks should not exceed 5 degrees. But what can you do when going faster than 90 or 200 or even 600 km/h and your monster truck cannot exceed even a 1.5-degree angle? Shannen fitted all truck’s wheels with brake discs of larger diameter to solve this problem. As the length of a straight section on any race track was too short for braking distance at speeds like that, Seydel came up with a trick — he fitted brake parachutes in the truck’s horizontal pipes.
Even during working hours, things were humming in one of Hawaiian fire departments. Motivated by pure enthusiasm, Shannen spent three years customising and redesigning the vehicle. Seydel was obsessed with an idea of turning a regular truck into a high-speed beast.
It was 1998. The official testing of the jet-powered truck was fixed for July 11. On that hot day, Canada saw some high-speed runs. The Hawaiian Eagle used the power of its two jet engines to accelerate to its speed limit of 655 km/h. This record was listed in the Guinness Book of Records, giving the old fire Ford the title of the world’s fastest truck.
There is an interesting fact noted by the experts: even though the speed reached by the Hawaiian Eagle was higher than that of the Shockwave, it is much less powerful than the majority of its jet-powered colleagues — it delivers just 6,000 horsepower per engine. Experts believe that the Hawaiian Eagle is able to show such performance figures due to its great aerodynamic features. It’s a pity one could not find use for speeds like that. On the other hand, maybe it’s not that bad. It’s terrible to imagine a situation when someone decides to use this vehicle as a fire truck as it can definitely burn everything behind it.
According to the most recent reports, at the moment, the iron record-holder can be found on the Hawaiian Islands (in the yard of a fire department) waiting for a new owner. The fire brigade is selling the renowned truck for only $55,000. Apparently, it’s difficult to find a daredevil ready to drive the world’s fastest truck.