Phoenix Diesel Phoenix LSR Diesel Truck
Years 2001-2004
Curb Weight 18,000 Lbs.
Drivetrain Front / Rear
Engine 24.0L Turbocharged v 16 (Diesel)
Power 4,000hp (2,984.0kW) @ 3200 rpm
Performance Top Speed: 251.2mph (404.4kph)

In 2001 Carl Heap's The Phoenix diesel truck became the fastest diesel vehicle on earth, under any sanctioning body, with a record speed of 251.244 mph. For comparison, the fastest FIA International record held by a diesel streamliner is a mere 236 mph. Last August, at Speed Week 2003, with new rear streamlining and a front spoiler, The Phoenix raised the record up to 272.685 mph.


Notes by Jim Shepherd

The Phoenix land speed racing truck –1943 International K-7

This truck is a highly modified semi-truck which competes in the Unlimited Diesel Truck class for land speed events (i.e. Bonneville and other such locations).

The truck is a 1943 International K-7. The engine is a Detroit Diesel V-16-92 which has a displacement of 1472 cubic inches. The engine is mounted behind the cab and is enclosed in a body that continues from the cab and forms the streamling of the truck. The estimated HP is over 4,000 (I believe the engine is “red-lined” at 3200 RPM)! The air supply to the engine has four turbo chargers feeding two superchargers. The truck weighs over 18,000 pounds.

They have modified the engine with special camshafts fuel injectors, and the addition of 4 turbochargers. They have also played with compression. They do not have a clutch. They use an in-out box and three speeds of a four speed Brownie box. They start the engine with two electric starters on the starting line and then push the truck to get it rolling. Once rolling, they match the engine and driveshaft speed and slip in into gear and then start the run.

The course is 5 miles long. The first measurement is at the 2 ¼ mile and then they get speeds for the 2-3, 3-4, and 4-5 parts of the track as well as the terminal speed. You can choose any mile speed for the record attempt, but you have to use the same mile for the record backup run. They used to run the backup in the opposite direction, but that presented a safety problem, as there is not much shut down room heading towards I80 if a problem occurs.

I think that they pioneered the use of skis on the front axle to protect the truck from digging in if one of the tires blows. Before they used aircraft tires (fronts from a 737 and rears from a 747 as I recall), they had lots of problems.

Here are a couple of notes from Carl Heap involving some previous correspondence and adding some interesting information:

"Also when Jim refered to the parachute being deployed at about 100 mph, that is when I begin to use the brakes. The parachute is deployed as soon as I cross the 5 mile marker at 239 mph

In regards to the fuel consumption I use about 7 gallons in a five mile run. If you consider that I do not reach maximum fuel consumption until mile 4, I would say that you are probably correct in your guess at 4 gals per mile at top speed."


August 17, 2000. Carl Heap and the Phoenix set a new record this week at Bonneville. The record he set was 231.356 against an existing record of 226.471. I talked to Carl just after he has received his 200MPH Club shirt. He said that his exit speed for the qualifying run was over 252 MPH (it was still accelerating)! He had an engine failure during the last part of the second run for the record (records require two runs and the record is the average of the two runs). Had he not had the engine failure, the record would have been even higher! His qualifying run was 244.362 so you can see that the second run was quite a bit slower.

August, 2001. The Phoenix set another new record of 251.244. The record is an average of the timer readings on part of the course. It is interesting to note that his exit speed on the course was 259.842 in other words, he was still accelerating!.


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Other 2001's: SPAL Ford Rocket Ranger , Ford Lightning Rod Concept , Mitsubishi Pajero Evolution Concept , Chevrolet Silverado Coolside II ,
"We're going road racing in a truck. That's so wrong." - Gale Banks