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