Nerd’s Eye View: Mike Ryan’s Banks Super-Turbo Powered Pikes Peak FreightlinerKhiem Dinh is an engineer for Honeywell Turbo Technologies at the time of this writing. All statements and opinions expressed by Khiem Dinh are solely those of Khiem Dinh and not reflective of Honeywell Turbo Technologies.
A 2008 Freightliner Cascadia is usually not the first choice when deciding to build a Pikes Peak Hillclimb vehicle. Mike Ryan is not your ordinary racer though and he likes his big trucks. This truck is unlike any other truck in the world, not even like those racing trucks out of Europe. Your basic semi-truck uses a turbo that most time attack cars would laugh at for being comically small. Not this truck, no siree Bob! To make this truck exceptionally special, Mike Ryan enlisted the help of Gale Banks to boost the power to hill moving levels. It’s not easy making around 2400hp and 4000+ lb-ft of torque, but we’re going to show you how it was done along with the tricks and components required to make a 5-ton semi-truck turn and stop.
Your basic Detroit Diesel Series 60, 6-cylinder, 14L engine starts off life at around 575hp and 1850 lb-ft of torque. Banks Power went in and designed a custom compound setup using an 8.3L Whipple supercharger and a Borg Warner S510 turbocharger. Making the engine run with the new forced induction setup is a custom calibrated Detroit Diesel ECU. To maximize air density and intercooling efficiency, a lot of water and methanol injection are used. A suite of Banks advanced injection systems are used as well. The Banks injection systems consist of a Straight-Shot, Double-Shot, and Triple-Shot. In this picture, you can see the solenoids of a Banks Double-Shot system injecting a water/meth mixture into the inlet of the supercharger. To maximize compressor efficiency, you want to perform your ‘intercooling’ DURING compression. So as the air is compressed, heat is being extracted simultaneously. Spraying the water/meth pre-supercharger achieves this by having the liquid evaporate during the compression of the air. The phase change from liquid to gas absorbs a tremendous amount of heat acting to intercool the air during compression in the blower. My 10th grade Chemistry teacher would be proud that I learned something applied in the real world.
The air is fed to the blower through this intake featuring three air filters! With as much air as the engine is sucking in, maximum filtration area is required to minimize pressure drop. As the stickers show, when the engine is at full-tilt, it can do some serious suckage.
The compressed air leaves the blower and enters the turbocharger to be squeezed even further. How does this relatively small turbo push enough airflow to generate 2400hp? Remember our Turbo Tech lesson on generating compressor maps? The maps show a corrected mass flow value with the inlet condition corrected to atmospheric pressure. But what if you increase the pressure at the compressor inlet of the turbocharger as is the case with this compound setup? The compressor wheel can then flow much greater mass flow. In this case, the supercharger compresses the air enough for the turbocharger to push 2400hp worth of mass flow.
Feeding exhaust gas to the turbocharger is this super-sexy manifold fabricated from Burns Stainless components. You’re not going to find any better merge collectors than the ones Burns Stainless make. Dual Tial wastegates are employed to control turbocharger speed. Take note of the compressor outlet pipe being wrapped in insulation as it snakes its way past the exhaust manifold. While the compressed air is hot, it’s not nearly as hot as the heat coming off the exhaust manifold. Lastly, big turbos are heavy. The team wisely designed some supports to take the weight off the exhaust manifold.
The upper and lower ports on the Tial wastegates are utilized to maximize boost control. Hard lines are used to maximize durability. Also note the extra few bends in the hard lines to help prevent failure from vibrations. I learned this trick from my days of fabricating HVAC systems.
The wastegate signal is controlled with this MAC solenoid.
The turbo and wastegate exhaust flows exit through this triple-shooter of an exhaust.
Back on the compressed air side, two Tial BOVs are used. 2400hp worth of air mass flow is a lot! As the engine is pushing somewhere around 60psi of boost, all of the intercooler tubing joints are fortified with these bars to ensure a pipe never blows off. Two hose clamps on each side are also in place to help prevent leaks.
The IC piping snakes its way from the engine’s mid-engine placement to the front of the truck where a fairly large IC is mounted. Take note again of the bars used to prevent the IC pipes from blowing off. Wait, maybe the IC looks kinda small for 2400hp you say?
A Banks Double-Shot Auto-Chiller system is used here. It’s a two-stage system with the flow being tied to the intercooler outlet temperature. The first three nozzles spray a mist onto the intercooler when the intercooler outlet temperature reaches 100F. The second set of two, making for a total of five nozzles, come into play when the temperature exceeds 150F. Again, evaporative cooling is the basic operating principle in play and used to externally cool the charge air flow. For anyone living in dry and hot climates, this is basically a swamp cooler for the intercooler.
The intercooler and radiator are stacked vertically side-by-side. Proper shrouding was used to force as much air through these heat exchangers as possible.
The front-end opening is massive.
The fully-pressurized air finally makes its way to the polished intake manifold. Here, a Banks Triple-Shot system using six 5 GPH injectors sprays water/meth into each individual intake runner of the manifold. The flow is provided by a staged two-pump system which is computer controlled for optimum delivery. Above the intake manifold are the custom fabricated brackets for the blower setup.
The supercharger requires a lot of power, so a really strong belt is used. There are a lot of teeth on that wheel working hard to help prevent belt slippage.
Here is another look at all the CNC’d goodness required to mount the supercharger.
Mounted low in the rear flanks of the truck are the fluid reservoirs for the water/meth and pure water. They are labeled and color-coded to ensure that the proper liquids are filled for each.
A Fuel Safe fuel cell contains the diesel liquid. The fuel cell is also labeled to prevent putting in the wrong fluids because who knows, someone might try to fill it with oil or something.
Transferring all that torque and power from the engine to the massive rear tires is a ZF (it’s a European company, so you have to call it Zed-F) HP 600 5-speed automatic transmission. I wonder if this is the same transmission used for semi-truck racing in Europe…
Holy rear-end Batman! That appears to be a Speedway Engineering rear anti-sway bar sitting atop the frame rails.
The Optima batteries are mounted low and as far rearward as they can be to put some weight over the rear tires. King Shocks provided a custom coil-over setup for the big truck and the remote reservoirs are mounted on the brace going across the rear of the frame rails.
Look at the size of the rear differential! It’s a Meritor RS 17145 unit. Look at the size of that U-joint on the driveshaft! In case you didn’t see what the license plate says in the previous picture, it says, “size matters”. As for the straps, I’m assuming they are used for the same purpose as on off-road racing trucks which is to limit droop travel. Thanks to our super smart readers for teaching me that one.
There is some adjustability designed into the solid rear axle suspension design.
The rear King Shocks damper uses a tender spring setup. 4-piston brakes are used on the rear with 15.1” diameter rotors.
About those rear tires… they are Michelin XDA-HT's in 445/50 R22.5 with a road racing rubber compound. A whole lotta bolts are used to keep the 15”x22.5” Accuride wheels attached to the hubs.
The rear tires leave a substantial footprint on the ground. Because no one really makes racing wings for a Freightliner, a wing from a Stearman bi-plane was repurposed.
The rear wing is a triple-element design to generate downforce as efficiently as possible.
What else is in the rear of the truck? A handful of heat exchangers to keep the various fluids cool are placed in available spaces. I can imagine the transmission fluid getting quite toasty. A Racepak system with a lot of channels is also mounted back there.
Mounted on the other side of the truck under the intake manifold are another pair of heat exchangers.
Right, now back to the front of the truck. The King Shocks front damper also uses a remote reservoir design and Eibach springs. The front Michelin XZU2 is ONLY 305/70R22.5 on a 9.25” wide Accuride wheel.
There is some awesomeness associated with the front suspension. There appears to be a solid -3 degrees of camber, if not more!
The front brakes use Meritor 4-piston calipers clamping 17” rotors. This truck weighs in around 5 tons however, so brake cooling front and rear is achieved using a Banks Straight-Shot system which sprays water into the center of the rotor. Remember those labeled fluid storage containers? I imagine it would be bad juju to spray meth at glowing hot brake rotors.
The steering system is not simple. Quite a few bends are required to transmit the driver's inputs from the steering wheel to the rack.
A Howe Performance rack and pinion steering system is used to turn those massive front tires. This is a good view of how low the engine sits in the chassis to reduce the center of gravity as much as possible. Tucked behind everything somewhere in there is another Speedway Engineering anti-sway bar.
At the opposite end of the steering shaft is where the steering wheel would typically reside. However, it has a quick release on it to allow for easy ingress/egress. A Racepak dash feeds info to the driver.
A few gauges are mounted in the dash to keep tabs on the various Banks fluid injection systems.
Mastercraft 3G seats keep the occupants in place along with DJ Safety seat belts. No one likes fires in their race vehicles, so a DJ Safety fire system was installed just in case.
Foam padding is used all around the cage in the cab to prevent injury. All of the fancy cage, chassis, and frame work were performed by a volunteer force of fabricators and engineers.
On the outside of the cab is this roof scoop. Looking back at the previous picture of the cab interior, it does not appear to feed into the cab. So where does it lead to?
I think the roof scoop channels air to this dump behind the cab. What’s the purpose of it? Maybe it’s to get some more cooling air around the engine and turbocharger. It may also reduce drag by filling the void behind the cabin with some air thereby reducing the size of the wake. It might also improve the effectiveness of the rear wing. The rear edge of the roof on the cab appears to have vortex generators which are also used to reduce drag and possibly improve the effectiveness of the rear wing. You know those vortex generators on the back of the roof of the Evo IX? Yeah, same idea.
This truck has a supercharger. This truck has a turbocharger. It has lots of pumps and spray nozzles. It’s so big and goes so fast, it needs water cooling for the brakes. It’s so big it needed a wing from an airplane. It has ten times the horsepower of my S2000 and about twenty-five times the torque. This truck is so awesome that Optimus Prime keeps a poster of it on his bedroom wall. Chuck Norris doesn’t drive this truck, this truck tells Chuck Norris where to drive. Good luck trying to catch this truck.