Carl kept his foot down to set new record


FOR­MER NASCAR RACER CARL ED­WARDS “KEPT HIS FOOT IN IT” TO pi­lot a heav­ily-mod­i­fied Toy­ota Land Cruiser to a new SUV world speed record of 370km/h (230mph) at Mo­jave Air and Space Port in Mo­jave, Cal­i­for­nia, in May.

En­gi­neers at Toy­ota USA’S Mo­tor­sports Tech­ni­cal Cen­ter (MTC) mod­i­fied a stan­dard Land Cruiser to cre­ate the 1491kw (2000hp) record-break­ing car.

The Land Speed Cruiser shat­tered the pre­vi­ous record by more than 30.6km/h (19mph). It reached a Gps-ver­i­fied and video-doc­u­mented 230.02mph be­fore run­ning out of us­able pave­ment.

With enough track ahead, the Land Speed Cruiser could be ex­pected to go even faster, says Toy­ota USA.

“The World’s Fastest SUV record was at 211mph. That’s ex­tremely fast,” says MTC man­ager, Chuck Wade. “Toy­ota thought, ‘Why don’t we make a re­ally, ul­tra-pow­er­ful Land Cruiser, and let’s just see how fast we can make it can go.’”

Us­ing the Land Cruiser’s pro­duc­tion 5.7-litre V8 engine as a start­ing point, the team added a pair of vol­ley­ball-sized Gar­rett tur­bocharg­ers that can pro­duce up to 55psi of boost. The MTC team up­graded the engine’s in­ter­nals to cope with ex­treme force in­duc­tion, fit­ting stur­dier pis­tons and con­rods and a cus­tom-made in­take man­i­fold.

That helped en­sure the V8 could pro­duce more than 1491kw safely and re­li­ably. The en­gi­neers fit­ted a cus­tom rac­ing trans­mis­sion strong enough to with­stand the stresses and abuses of high power and speeds.

Driv­ing faster than 320km/h chal­lenges a ve­hi­cle’s aero­dy­nam­ics and sta­bil­ity. To aid con­trol­la­bil­ity, the Land Speed Cruiser sits lower to the ground, re­duc­ing dra­mat­i­cally the amount of tur­bu­lent air al­lowed to pass un­der­neath.

The wagon’s frame was mod­i­fied to main­tain op­ti­mal sus­pen­sion ge­om­e­try, and was nar­rowed by 75mm to ac­com­mo­date wider Miche­lin Pi­lot Su­per Sport tyres.

Test driver and cham­pi­onship road racer Craig Stan­ton played a key role in fine tun­ing the Land Speed Cruiser’s set-up.

“I wanted the Land Speed Cruiser to pro­vide the con­fi­dence you need, as a driver, to keep push­ing even when the world around you be­comes a high speed blur,” he says. “We made some set-up ad­just­ments, and it not only ac­cel­er­ates and shifts more smoothly, but it also has en­hanced sta­bil­ity.”

With the Land Speed Cruiser di­alled in and fi­nally ready for its recordsetting run, re­cently re­tired Toy­ota NASCAR driver Carl Ed­wards met the team at the Mo­jave Air and Space Port which has a four kilo­me­tre paved runway.

Be­fore Ed­wards’ run, Stan­ton warmed up the SUV, reach­ing 198mph. On his first run, Ed­wards hit 211mph, but was run­ning out of pave­ment to slow the big SUV. More boost was di­alled in to in­crease power, and he tried again.

On the next run, Ed­wards put the ham­mer down, and pi­loted the Land Speed Cruiser to its 230mph record.

“At 225mph, the thing was wan­der­ing a lit­tle bit. All I could think was that Craig said, ‘No mat­ter what, just keep your foot in it,’ and we got 230mph,” Ed­wards grinned af­ter set­ting the record. “It’s safe to say that this is the fastest SUV on the planet.”

Above: Toy­ota’s Land Speed Cruiser hur­tles to­wards its SUV land speed record in Mo­jave, Cal­i­for­nia. Right top: Re­tired NASCAR driver Carl Ed­wards pi­loted the Toy­ota on its record-set­ting run. Right: Land Cruiser’s 5.7-litre V8 mo­tor was mod­i­fied...

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