MC&T recently spent a good amount of time behind the wheel of a Ram 1500 TRX super truck. It’s as wily as you may have read about, and to truly explore the limits of the truck, we jumped it at the Silver Lake Sand Dunes, did a night of dispersed camping in the Michigan wilderness, cruised Woodward Boulevard with a swarm of Scat Packs, and visited the local hardware store for bags of mulch. The 2021 Ram TRX is as much of a high-performance muscle car as it is a work truck. And as much of a dune blaster as it is a Sunday cruiser. It’s everything, rolled into one massive, imposing package.
It makes sense, then, that the Ram TRX team is made up of some of a cross-section of the most talented minds among the Ram, Jeep, and SRT development units.
The T-Rex And The Wolf
“We have Chris Winkler (they call him “The Wolf”),” said Dan Stagner, Vehicle Integration Lead for the Ram 1500 TRX, to MC&T. “He was instrumental in developing a lot of the SRT products including the Dodge Viper and Ram SRT10. He’s a master behind the wheel, and he really doesn’t have any fear.”
Enthusiasts will certainly recall that name, as Chris Winkler was the pilot behind all of those American track records set by the legendary Dodge Viper ACR.
“I’ve got examples of going to the sand dunes in DuMont, California,” Stagner went on to say. “We found a nice place to jump the truck and he’s like ‘okay lemme just feel it out,’ and he hopped in and put down the biggest truck of the day. Just pushing the limits of beyond what I’m comfortable driving… we look for different places to take it.”
Ram TRX Development Required A New Track
FCA Stellantis constructed its own baja-style off-road test track in the Arizona proving grounds that was pretty much developed for the Ram TRX, as well as the Jeep Gladiator Mojave. High speed jumps, landings, and whoops are the speciality of the Hellcat-powered pickup truck. But it can do low speed off-roading events, too, thanks to talent pulled from the Jeep team.
“One of the key development engineers from the Jeep JL program came over and lended a hand on a lot of the low speed traction stuff, and doing some of the real world Jeep trails,” explained Stagner. “His name is Bernie Trautmann, he took us to a lot of places and was really impressed with how the the TRX could navigate Jeep trails (but some were admittedly too tight for the girth of a T-Rex).”
The Legacy Of The SRT Engineering Team
While much of the core DT-platform Ram 1500 team was involved with the TRX program, the nature of this truck of course required the expertise of the (now dissolved) SRT engineering team.
“SRT is disbanded but us development guys are still in the same buildings, sitting next to each other and doing the same work… the base team from the Challenger and Charger were instrumental in setting up the truck for all the things we know work, and (what works) in the Jeeps, and just taking our truck architecture to the next level.”
As the automotive industry is being forced into electrification, the 702 horsepower, 6.2L supercharged V8-powered Ram 1500 TRX serves as a beacon of high-octane performance of the highest caliber, in multiple settings. And with Redeye and Demon engines waiting in the wing, it’s unlikely the “bachelor party” will be ending anytime soon.