Black Mack Fire Truck Other 'Hot Rods' Make Up Unique Fire Truck Display at Pennzoil AutoFair
The 1944 Mack fire truck street rod whose massive burnout video went viral on YouTube will headline a special exhibit of unique firefighting vehicles during the April 7-10 Pennzoil AutoFair at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
The Mack will share the spotlight in the Showcase Pavilion with a collection of unusual and historic firefighting vehicles chosen by Vintage Fire Truck & Equipment magazine as features. The VFT&E display includes a 1922 Ford that has served the Farmland (Indiana) Fire Dept. since it was new; a tiny Scat emergency truck designed to reach fires in crowded buildings; specialized fire units built on an International Harvester Scout and a Ford Bronco; and two trucks that served nearby Kings Mountain beginning in the 1930s.
Kids, who get in free with an adult ticket purchase, can also learn about fire safety through the Concord Fire Department's Fire Safety House, among other interactive displays.
The classic Mack B went from chasing smoke in North Riverside, Illinois—a suburb of Chicago—to smoking rubber on the Internet in only seven short decades. Precision Designs of Denver, Colorado, turned the sturdy workhorse into a thoroughbred by creating a custom steel frame, heavily modifying the all-steel body, and installing an engine designed for the Dodge Viper, one of the most powerful sports cars sold in America. Precision Designs mated the Viper's aluminum V-10 engine to a Dodge four-speed automatic transmission pulled from a Ram SRT-10 sport truck. During installation, tuners found another 100 horsepower in the V-10, taking it to its current rating of 600.
Since there is no catalog for Mack truck street rods, everything had to be fabricated and engineered specifically for this project. Who makes a steering system for a one-off fire truck street rod? No one, that's who. There were no 24-inch, polished aluminum rims for the Mack until American Force Wheels produced the one-and-only set. There was no four-bar rear suspension ready to bolt on, so the parts had to be handmade. The rear axle assembly, borrowed from a Dodge one-ton truck, had to be shortened by 14 inches to fit in the space between the super-wide rear tires. A carefully calibrated airbag suspension makes the beast comfortable on the road, and a Dodge truck disc-brake system helps it stop in surprisingly short distances.
Once the mechanical upgrades were addressed, traditional fire engine gold leaf stripes were applied over the gallons of hand-polished DuPont black paint. Original owners Roger and Rhonda Brown chose the somber color because the Mack's construction is dedicated to the 343 firefighters who died in the line of duty during the 9/11 terror attacks.
After 15,000 hours of work, current owner Don Phlipot is bringing the Viper/Mack to the Pennzoil AutoFair for its East Coast debut.
"Our readers really like it when we feature rare and unusual machines like what we are bringing to AutoFair," said Jack Harrison, full-time firefighter and editor of VFT&E. "We want to show the public that there is a whole world of fire equipment beyond just the fire engine and ladder truck."
The Pennzoil AutoFair features more than 50 car club displays and more than 10,000 vendor spaces offering an array of automotive parts and memorabilia. More than 1,500 collectible vehicles of all makes and models will be available for sale in the car corral that rings the 1.5-mile superspeedway. In addition, kids can enjoy face-painting, bounce houses and other games and entertainment in the Play Zone.
Hours for the April 7-10 Pennzoil AutoFair are 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., Thursday through Saturday, and 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., Sunday. Ticket prices are $11 per day for adults, and children 13 years of age and younger are admitted free when accompanied by an adult. To purchase tickets, call the Charlotte Motor Speedway ticket office at 1-800-455-FANS (3267), or visit www.charlottemotorspeedway.com.