The PPI Toyota Trophy Truck, driven by legendary racer Ivan “Ironman” Stewart from 1994 to 2000, rolls out of RK Motors Charlotte, one of the nation’s premier restoration shop, after being fully restored to competition specifications.
This Trophy Truck is a wonderful piece of history. It collected an impressive 10 off road victories, including four Baja 500 [1994, 1997-‘99] wins and one Baja 1000  victory. In 1983, Toyota joined forces with Precision Preparation, Inc. (PPI) in an effort to diversify their motorsports portfolio. This partnership lead to, among other successes, an off-road racing team that dominated the Mickey Thompson Off-Road Stadium Series while accumulating 27 wins and seven championships in the SCORE Desert Series. Though the team was comprised of many talented hands, legendary off-road racer Ivan “Ironman” Stewart stole the spotlight. A 2006 inductee in the Off-Road Motorsports Hall of Fame, Stewart earned his nickname by completing entire desert races without a navigator or relief driver. His efforts lead to several records including most all-time MTEG wins (17) and most Baja 500 wins (17).
For 17 years, PPI and Stewart ruled the intensely competitive world of off-road racing, even taking first at the 1998 Baja 1000. That victory, along with four Baja 500’s were accomplished using chassis number 015. Built in 1993 to replace PPI’s aging 010 chassis, the 015 would become the Master’s thesis and, ultimately, final product of a remarkably successful off-road team.
The truck was originally built and re-built after each race, with a focus on winning. For the restoration, the engine was torn down and reassembled with fresh internals. Fuel is provided by eight EFI throttle bodies controlled by a Redline/Weber ECU. Due to the custom nature of the build, many parts, including the intake manifold, had to be fabricated. The engine achieves well over 550 horsepower while producing a flat torque range from 4000 – 7500 rpm.
Starting with the original engine block, TM1 Motorsports teamed up with Larry Slutter to restore the 302 cubic inch TRD aluminum V8 race engine. Slutter previously managed the Toyota Racing Development’s group, who built and maintained the PPI #015 Toyota race engines.
“This restoration project is special because the men who were involved in the original build of the #015 Toyota Truck teamed up again to make the engine roar as it once did, including Owner Cal Wells III, Tom Morris and Larry Slutter,” said Joe Carroll, RK Motors Charlotte president and CEO. “This group was involved with the truck from conception to rebirth. Now it will be brought back to life by the men who helped Stewart earn those victories.”
At the core of this truck is an aluminum 302 cubic inch V8. Loosely based on the 1UZ-FE Lexus engine. The race version retains the DOHC/four-valve configuration but little else. Though the component list features familiar names such as JE Pistons and Carrillo Rods, every internal part has been custom built to PPI’s specifications. Fuel is pulled from a 43 gallon custom tank and distributed by eight EFI throttle bodies controlled by a Weber/Redline ECU. Exhaust is channeled through a tuned stainless steel Borla system with USFS-approved spark arrestors. At idle, the truck is surprisingly quiet but a quick blip of the throttle ensures this is a purebred racer.
The custom-made five-speed transaxle is one of only two that were built and rotated throughout the truck’s race life. This custom PPI transaxle is utilizing a 5-speed Hewland VGC 200 gear selection box often seen in GTP racing. With a vehicle capable of doing in excess of 135mph across the dunes, the suspension had to be tough. The front and rear both utilize a double A-arm setup featuring PPI coil overs with internal position sensitive shocks that can be tuned for compression and rebound. Only the rate of the Eibach springs varies between the two ends. The setup is good for a total of 22 inches of travel, making small jumps a simple matter. When the desert roads wind, steering is kept light thanks to a PPI V2 power rack and pinion with ram assist. This setup feels more natural to turn at low speeds than many of the smaller race cars we’ve seen. Braking power is distributed to a four wheel disc setup utilizing PPI rotors, Brembo calipers and a Tilton master cylinder. The whole setup rides on sturdy PPI custom 17” x “7 48-bolt beadlock wheels wrapped in tall BF Goodrich 37” x 17” T/A KR’s. A custom made Concord battery was ordered, and the correct power steering ram seals were also located, along with Bilstein shock parts.
Inside, the driver is placed in the center of a hand fabricated aluminum chassis. Despite the middle seat configuration, control layout is familiar with all instrumentation directly in front of the driver and the shift selector positioned to the right. The left hand side of the dash is dominated by toggle switches that control the twelve Hella HID spotlights used to illuminate the desert at night. The right side contains switches for the ignition, fuel pump, fans and other traditional pieces most enthusiasts are familiar with. Overall, the interior is far less restrictive than most race vehicles with plenty of room on either side of the seat. The seat itself is a heavily padded Mastercraft piece with a Simpson four-point harness keeping the driver in place during tough landings. With such long stretches of track performed at once, the driver has to be prepared for anything. The truck is well supplied with a tool kit, Maglite, and hydration system all within arms reach.
With the exception of additional lighting, the outside of the truck has been restored to its appearance at the Baja 2000. For that race, Ivan Stewart was paired with fellow off-road icon Larry Roeseler who drove the second leg of the race. Both names are featured on the number tag behind the cab. Though the composite body has seen a few different paint schemes, this one is an accurate representation of the truck’s final competition appearance.
The truck was tested and approved by the legend himself. Following the completion of the restoration process, the 015 was even test driven in Barstow recently by Ivan ‘Ironman’ Stewart himself. After driving the restored truck, Stewart commented that it was the “same amount of fun (he) had twelve years ago.”
Motorsports enthusiasts would likely agree that it’s difficult to look at this truck without envisioning it airborne and covered in dust, with the Ironman at the wheel. Built and driven by the best, 015 is a truly significant piece of off-road history worthy of anchoring any collection. In the days of pre-fab racers, hand built masterpieces like this are becoming increasingly more valuable. This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to own one of Baja’s most legendary competitors. Included in the sale for 499.900 USD are irreplaceable items such as the original chassis blueprints, along with a treasure trove of new replacement parts. If you want to enter a vintage event or even the Baja 1000, this truck is race-proven and ready to take on all comers, any time, anywhere.