Gale Banks, Mike Ryan and the Super-Turbo

When 14 liters and two turbos aren’t enough, add a supercharger… and a bunch of other stuff

AutoWeek: Banks Super-Turbo

When 14 liters and two turbos aren’t enough, add a supercharger… and a bunch of other stuff

Mike Ryan is primarily a stunt driver and stunt coordinator in the movies. You’ve seen his work in everything from “Fast & Furious 6” to the Ninja Turtles. But he is also a truck racer, not Craftsman trucks or Trophy Trucks or even the Coors Race Truck Challenge for mini trucks. Ryan races a semi truck — a Freightliner, the kind you see tramping down those interstates hauling lumber and hogs, their drivers wearing cowboy hats and feed caps and listening to country music.

Big, huge trucks.

While Ryan doesn’t pull a trailer when he races his truck, he does haul. He drifts it against conventional drifters, which is pretty unconventional in itself, but he also races the Freightliner in hill climbs. Again, not just any hill climbs — try the 156 turns leading up to the 14,114-foot summit of Pikes Peak, where he is heading as you read this.

“The original big-rig record was set by a guy named Sid Compton in 1996, at 15 minutes and 48 seconds,” Ryan said of the big rig truck class at the Peak. “Last year, we set our seventh record there, and got it down to 12 minutes and 38 seconds.”

But, as is the case with most racers, fastest is never fast enough.

“This year, once this stuff is sorted out, it should be dramatically faster,” he promised.

“This stuff” is the interesting part.

For better balance he moved the engine 1 foot down and 6 feet back to make it, technically, a mid-engine racer…though racer isn’t a term you’d likely use for this beast. In a world where “real” sports cars are supposed to weigh under 2,000 pounds and “real” race cars are less than 1,000, Ryan’s truck weighs 10,000 pounds. Those are four zeroes after that one. If he had left the Detroit Diesel DD60 turbocharged straight six engine in stock form it would put out 575 hp and 1850 lb-ft of torque.

But Mike Ryan’s engine isn’t stock.

He had added various turbochargers and intercoolers and was having a pretty good time racing it, often in a class by himself. Then last year, after a few troubles at Pikes Peak, he met diesel-tuning guru Gale Banks.

“I said to Mike, ‘Why not put the Super-Turbo in it?” Banks recalled…

Read the rest of the story, and check out the photos at

Leave a Reply