BITD: SMD Motorsport, Power Stroke Diesel at Indianapolis

SMD Motorsport's Ford Power Stroke Diesel Excursion Wows NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series Fans at Indianapolis Raceway Park Aug. 2001 - Indianapolis, Ind. - Even the most knowledgeable racing fans in the world - Indy Speedway fans - gasped when...

SMD Motorsport's Ford Power Stroke Diesel Excursion Wows NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series Fans at Indianapolis Raceway Park

Aug. 2001 - Indianapolis, Ind. - Even the most knowledgeable racing fans in the world - Indy Speedway fans - gasped when they saw the big, black SMD Motorsports Ford Power Stroke Diesel Excursion.

The SMD Excursion, a stock Ford Motor Company SUV tricked out and custom-built for off-road racing by Heber, Calif.'s SMD Motorsports (owned by the Steve Scaroni Family), was the only off-road racing rig showcased at the Fan Appreciation Day event held in the RCA Dome before the PowerStroke 200 NASCAR Truck Race.

SMD/Power Stroke Diesel Team. Photo: Bob Kozel.

"The Excursion turned heads everywhere it was on display and there was a lot of interest and questions from some fans who had never seen, or even heard of, off-road racing," Scaroni said.

Scaroni and family, Brenda, David and the Excursion's driver, Matt, made the trip to the heartland at the request and invite of International Truck & Engine Corp. of Indianapolis, makers of the famous Power Stroke Diesel which fires the SMD Excursion.

SMD Crew Chiefs, Rod Goodsell and Brent Mann, also made the trip. They helped the Scaroni family meet and greet the racing fans and the executives from Ford and International and answer all of the technical questions from Indy's motorsports crowds.

"There were many Ford and International executives at the events and we had the opportunity to speak with them about the SMD Excursion race efforts and off-road racing in general. We forged many new friendships and discussed some exciting new products coming from the Ford / International Power Stroke Diesel product line," he added.

International invited the SMD Motorsports team and there Excursion to showcase the Power Stroke Diesel engine which powers the 8000 lb. SUV.

Producing more than 400 horsepower and a whopping 850 ft. lb. of torque, the 7.3 liter engine is a racing version of the popular Power Stroke Diesel units built by the company for Ford light-duty trucks and the latest Ford SUVs.

Set for racing Photo: Bob Kozel.

In addition to the exposure International, SMD and all of their sponsors got at the RCA Dome event, Including a Business Section Photo in the Local Indianapolis Daily Newspaper! International put the rig in front of the pack for the parade lap for the Powerstroke 200 Nastruck Race before the race and displayed the Excursion at the nearby International engine plant.

At the plant, the Excursion's BF Goodrich tires were gleaming and showlights glinted off the new American Racing rims. Some of the fans who checked out the Excursion hopped into the Mastercraft driver's seat which Matt sits in and got a driver's-eye view.

Others peered underneath the chassis and checked out the Fox Racing Shox while gearheads checked out the Excursion's package under the hood and peppered the SMD Team with technical questions. "They wanted to know how SMD did this or how we figured that out," he said.

Built Ford Tough!. Photo: Bob Kozel.

All in all, the discerning fans, "appreciated what we had done," Scaroni said. "These are the kinds of guys who mow their own lawn and change their own oil."

Earlier during the SMD trip east, the team tweaked the Excursion's transmission and engine computer at the TRC Test Facility in Ohio.

There the team worked with Ford Truck engineers, David Curry, Jeremy Gonyou and Nicole Wegge and Chuck Gregory of International.

Scaroni was particularly impressed with Curry's meticulous attention to detail.

"Dave worked on the Excursion for many hours straight with no break," he said.

Using a LORAL-brand Arcon computer, Curry dialed in the engine computer in search of the perfect mix of power and reliability.

The especially tricky task Curry had was making sure he didn't stunt the Excursion's powerful engine as he increased reliability.

Ready for the desert Photo: Bob Kozel.

To make sure he got the mix right, SMD team members would drive the Excursion around the Ohio track and then Curry would tweak the mix with the Arcon computer.

After he downloaded the new mix into the Excursion's internal computer, the SUV would make another lap. Eventually Curry found a mix that he was satisfied with - at least until the next trip East for SMD.

Scaroni hopes the time spent at the testing facility will help in their continuing battle with Team Hummer and ACE Racing's Expedition when the Excursion makes the trip to Vegas for the BITD Las Vegas to Reno race in September.

In November, the Excursion will be entered in the ultimate off-road test of machine and man -the World Famous SCORE Baja 1000.

Those races will give Ford and International execs a chance to see how their technical modifications on the engine, chassis and suspension work during grueling desert training.

The upcoming races will also serve as great promotion for Ford and International since the SMD Excursion's racing chassis features an aggresive paint and graphic scheme designed to attract attention during nationally televised races.

With only a few months of racing under the SMD Excursion's belt, SMD has already lined up top-shelf sponsors Aadvanced Wireless, an Authorized Nextel and ATT Wireless Provider, Fox Racing Shox, Mastercraft and AFE Filters.

The full-size Excursion SUV incorporates such features as a 137" wheelbase, a 60 gallon fuel cell, over 16" of rear wheel travel (11" in front) and a special Ford 4R1000 transmission, all wrapped in a full roll cage.

Log onto the SMD website at to learn more and see exciting pictures of the Excursion in racing action.

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Series Automotive , Offroad