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Specialists From The SRT, Jeep And Ram Teams Helped Make The Ram 1500 TRX Possible

2021 Ram 1500 TRX Hellcat Truck
Image copyright Mattheus Pach, Muscle Cars & Trucks

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.

Image copyright Mattheus Pach, Muscle Cars & Trucks.

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.”

Image via Mattheus Pach, Muscle Cars & Trucks

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).”

Image via Mattheus Pach, Muscle Cars & Trucks.

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.

Ram 1500 TRX Pickup Truck Off Road
Image via Mattheys Pach, Muscle Cars & Trucks

Written by Manoli Katakis

Muscle Cars & Trucks was founded by Manoli Katakis - an automotive media veteran that has been covering the latest car news since 2009. His journalism has uncovered dozens of major product changes, updates, plans, and cancellations long before automakers were ready to make things official.

Some highlights over the years of his reporting include the uncovering of the Zora trademark before anybody else reported on the coming of a mid-engine Corvette, as well as the dead-accurate reporting of the coming of the Chevrolet Colorado ZR2, two years before it hit the market, and even before the debut of the concept vehicle. This type of reporting has immediately continued here, with reports of the original seventh-generation Camaro plans being shelved, as well as what's in store for the Chevrolet Silverado.

Some of his work can be found on massive automotive media outlets, such as Motor1. He also has been a guest on the 910AM Radio Station with Detroit News auto critic Henry Payne, as well as the enthusiast-oriented Camaro Show podcast.

Over the years, Manoli has interviewed various automotive industry titans, leaders, and people that make things happen otherwise. These include figureheads such as GM CEO Mary Barra, GM President Mark Reuss, automotive aftermarket icon Ken Lingenfelter, Dodge firebrand Tim Kuniskis, along with various chief engineers of vehicles such as the Ford F-150 & Mustang, Chevrolet Camaro & Corvette, and many more.

At MC&T, Manoli is taking his journalism expertise, deeply planted sources, driving abilities, and automotive industry knowledge to new levels, covering more vehicles and brands than ever before. This is the place where you will continue to read groundbreaking stories about American performance vehicles, pickup trucks, and sport utility vehicles. Here is where you’ll also read insights and quotes from various automotive subject matter experts on the latest relevant products, as well as some of the latest official news from their manufacturers.

Fun facts: he also once beat Corvette Racing driver Tommy Milner in an autocross with a Chevrolet Bolt EV. The biggest vehicle he’s ever driven is a John Deere mining truck. Besides a go-kart, the smallest vehicle he’s driven has been a Hyundai i10. He’s also spent time in the cockpit of various American performance vehicle icons, including the fifth-generation Chevrolet Camaro Z/28, Dodge Challenger Demon, and Ford Mustang GT350R. He has reviewed dozens of trucks, SUVs, and performance vehicles over the years.

One of his favorite new vehicles on the market today happens to be the Chevrolet Colorado ZR2 Bison. He is also a card carrying member of the Sports Car Club of America, and regularly participates in Detroit Region autocross events.

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