Mal Lan­g­ley’s new 4WD Prolite race truck is a sight to be­hold. Mark Baker has the story.

NZ4WD - - Contents - Story and photos by Mark Baker.

Whakatane off-road racer Mal­colm Lan­g­ley is mak­ing his mark in the un­lim­ited truck class this year, rac­ing an all-new Chev-pow­ered 4WD ProLite race truck in the boom­ing 4WD Bits un­lim­ited race truck class. Lan­g­ley is ‘ Mr 93’ – car­ry­ing the race num­ber through three classes from his sport­ing de­but in class three for cars with 1.6 litre en­gines and rac­ing un­der the 393 num­ber. Lan­g­ley crossed the ‘ di­vide’ when the ProLite de­sign started to gain pop­u­lar­ity in New Zealand.

Open source

ProLite plans are avail­able ‘open source’ on the in­ter­net and are a proven recipe for a strong, light race truck. The de­sign ma­jors on ease of ac­cess to com­po­nents – both for clean­ing and ease of main­te­nance. The sus­pen­sion ge­om­e­try has been sorted on the big fast whoops and jumps of the west coast US off-road rac­ing scene. And 4WD ver­sions can be built with­out sac­ri­fic­ing the de­sign’s 18 inches of front sus­pen­sion travel.


Best of all, the ProLite trucks are ‘right­sized’ for New Zealand tracks on farm and for­est, un­like big­ger de­signs cre­ated to race in the desert. “The project started five years ago, build­ing a truck I could share with my son Colby,” ex­plains Mal­colm. “We went twoseater with the idea that he could step up to driv­ing and I’d nav­i­gate.” The orig­i­nal plan was to use a front mid- mounted Lexus V8 and rear wheel drive, keep­ing the de­sign sim­ple and tak­ing the time to make the truck easy to main­tain and fun to race. How­ever, “the build process was too long for Colby and he went off and took up surf­ing,” says Mal­colm.” so it was just me out in the shed, miss­ing out on Short­land Street and tweak­ing the build as I went along.” While the truck build work went on, Lan­g­ley had suf­fered through a year of wet, rainy race week­ends run­ning his class one car.

4WD the way to go

Which got him think­ing that four-wheeldrive might ac­tu­ally be the way to go. “So we de­cided to look closer at the front end and start to sort out ge­om­e­try for a front diff and half shafts.” Then in 2016 the class one car was sold, al­low­ing Mal­colm to fo­cus on fin­ish­ing off the truck build… which now in­cluded a ‘rip­per’ of an en­gine, a 406ci Chev V8, a small block al­loy pow­er­house, fuel in­jected, with Dart Pro 1 aerospace al­loy heads and a Dart al­loy block. Spark is man­aged by a Link G4 ECU through mul­ti­ple coil packs. Cladding the new truck – and fin­ished in an eye-sear­ing flu­oro yel­low which re­ally

helps to make nam­ing rights spon­sor Bat­tery Town’s name stand out – is a hy­brid set of body pan­els that start with a Kartek Fron­tier-Ti­tan ‘evo nose and king­cab and blend to rear guards based on the Tun­dra ver­sions widely used here over the past decade.

Work­man­ship shines through

A fab­ri­cated dou­ble-winglet frame be­hind the cab man­ages air­flow over two 30-inch en­gine ra­di­a­tors, each with its own elec­tric fan. The wing ends also carry Lan­g­ley’s un­lim­ited-class race num­ber: 893. The work­man­ship and time spent on the build shines through in ev­ery de­tail. The heav­ens opened when Mal­colm brought the truck to Auck­land for its de­but at the open­ing round of the 2017 Po­laris New Zealand Of­froad Rac­ing Cham­pi­onship. It was not the ideal first out­ing – in a field of five other un­lim­ited-class trucks ( three of them ProLite de­signs). Lan­g­ley found him­self ‘roost­ered’ at ev­ery turn but came away with his first points tally and is now champ­ing at the bit to un­leash the big Chev on the for­est tracks of the Wood­hill 100.

“No doors here, this is the un­lim­ited class.”

The front end is a beefed-up ver­sion of the ProLite de­sign mod­i­fied to ac­com­mo­date the front half shafts and CV joints. The truck fea­tures hy­draulic bump stops at all four cor­ners. A sturdy al­loy bash plate pro­tects the front diff and in­board CVs.

Twin 30 inch ra­di­a­tors with elec­tric fans and a big header tank are well out of the way of fly­ing muck and mud .

The ‘of­fice’ adapts proven US race prod­ucts with Kiwi com­pe­ti­tion con­cepts. The big pipe di­rects fil­tered air back to the en­gine; the two smaller black and white hoses be­side the seats are for the air-pumper hel­mets the crew wear. Clean air at pos­i­tive pres­sure keeps both driver and nav­i­ga­tor com­fort­able in wet and dry con­di­tions. Close at hand is a large dry pow­der ex­tin­guisher avail­able to ei­ther crew mem­ber if needed.

Rear three-quar­ter view… one Mal hopes his com­pe­ti­tion will be see­ing plenty of this sea­son.

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