TrackMaster Products Reinvents the Track T Roadster
Most hot rods that have been built over the years and even today are literally the product of “garage engineering”, where a bunch of disparate parts are assembled for a certain look or function. That is what sets the TrackMaster T apart from all the rest – it is designed from a clean sheet of paper with exhaustively engineered components that are manufactured specifically for this vehicle. It is the genius of Jerry Magnuson who learned his craft building Indy Cars for Dan Gurney’s All American Racers. Jerry has a thorough understanding of vehicle dynamics and what it takes to make a car perform and be durable at the same time.
Every component in the TrackMaster T (TMT) is designed for a specific purpose and engineered for the stresses and forces it will encounter in an extreme performance environment. For that reason virtually no existing traditional rod components were deemed adequate. A perfect example is the billet aluminum I-beam front axle that is whittled on a CNC machine from a 200-pound block of aircraft-grade aluminum. All components are first hand-drawn into a blueprint to capture their esthetic value, then converted to a cad file so that they can be exactly duplicated for all 10 cars and spare parts if needed.
Every day Jerry and the TrackMaster team of designers, machinists and fabricators refine the TMT and its components until the build quality and performance envelope exceeds that of the most exotic Super Cars ever built. The result is a 525hp, 1800-pound two-seater that is equally comfortable driven hard on a road course, autocross, drag strip or cross-country road trip. Only nine other people will have the opportunity to own one of these American-built limited production Super Cars.
In the past, T roadsters were never known for their comfort, driving position and road feel. With the TMT you sit down low between the frame rails, out of the windblast that can make driving any roadster a chore on a long trip. In the TrackMaster you feel like you are a part of the road, not on top of the road – the same feeling every NASCAR driver tries to duplicate. The TMT’s steering box is not an adapted racecar part ill suited for a road car, it was designed with the correct amount of “on-center” feel and friction, and the ability to select ratios to suit one’s driving style.
Part of a successful car design is considering every facet of its functionality. With a small car like a ’23 T-style roadster the use of space is critical. That is why a unique bellhousing was designed to move the starter to the 12 o’clock position – to provide more room in the footwell area for pedals and more footroom for the passenger. Limited but very useful storage space is provided by large “map” pockets in the doors and a specially designed trunk liner that optimizes storage around the fuel cell and rear suspension components.
The basis of any Super Car is a rigid chassis and the TMT is no exception. Its frame is fabricated from 1/8”, 3/16” cold roll milled steel welded into a monocoque design. There is a double crossmember bridge in front that mounts a composite mono leaf spring behind the ultra lightweight eight-pound billet aluminum axle. The structure of the main frame section is double tapered side rails that flow into press formed 1/8” welded steel box corners. The rear frame section spreads the suspension loads over three-square feet of the body and into the super stiff drive shaft tunnel. The result is a super stiff, yet lightweight chassis.
Unsprung weight is extremely critical in a high performance car and also greatly affects the ride in a car that weighs just 1800-pounds. For that reason Jerry designed a 43-inch-wide front axle machined from two-inch thick 6061-T6 aluminum plate. It weighs just eight pounds. It accepts lightweight sprint car style spindles with 10-degrees KPI and is set up with one degree of negative camber. These custom front axles can be produced with special camber specs for competition. Sander Manufacturing exclusively manufactures the front spindles and hubs for TMP. The hubs have a 2 5/8” x 8 thread knockoff- RH or LH as necessary.
All TMP steering arms carry a craftsman style I beam design. They are investment cast 17-4 PH with a rated tensile strength of 190,000 lbs. Tie rod arms are set with a 50% Akerman angle for more aggressive driving. The drag link is a double swagged aluminum tube that connects the steering arms. The spindle arms have a five-inch radius. The sector arm has a seven-inch radius, “longer” amounts to 30% increase in ratio with a 24:1 ratio in the steering box. Final steering ratio is 14.7 to 1. The TMP steering gear can be furnished with ratios from 16:1 to 24:1 depending on the ratio you desire. The front 4 bars are “swagged” aluminum tubes that use urethane bushings in the rear and are very light.
The three-pound, transverse-mounted composite spring is carried in two boxes that retain the spring controlling the side motion. The spring and car weight rides on ball bearings so there is zero frictional loss. The rear suspension is an inverted four-bar that can be adjusted to steer the back of the car (slight oversteer) depending on roll stiffness. Roll stiffness can be adjusted by the sway bar. The coil-over rear suspension has gas adjustable shocks. The rear sway bar is a Standard Schroeder .600” diameter torsion bar with billet.
The hand-formed steel body is similar in shape and dimensions to an original T body. The lower body section is 10-inches wider which allows the driver and passenger to sit lower in the car and provides more hip and shoulder room. Unlike the originals, this T features two doors and a wider windshield frame from an earlier vintage to reduce wind buffeting to the occupants.
The rear turtle deck is a two-piece assembly that replicates track roadster styling in the 50s and 60s. The rear belly pan frames the quick-change rear end for a traditional look. The car comes with two trunk lids - one is standard and one with has a functional luggage rack. They can be switched in seconds using a purpose built quick disconnect system. There is a 12-gallon fuel cell housed in a reinforced fiberglass box. This accommodates a fuel pump, pressure regulator, electric fuel level sender and a roll-over shutoff valve.
The iconic early sprint car style nose is hand formed aluminum over a buck for consistency and all edges are rolled for strength. A four-piece hand shaped aluminum hood beautifully made by Terry Hegman has a traditional piano hinge with a tapering shape. The grill is 1/8” 304 stainless sheet water jet cut and hand formed, then welded into place – a piece of art. The front nerf bar was stretch pressed into shape and the hardware machined then silver brazed together. The tubing “nerf-style” rear bumper is simply styled and adds to the elegance of the car. The headlight mount is part of the front nerf/bumper assembly, with the wiring hidden inside. The 5 3/4” headlights are nicely proportioned to this car. LED tail, brake, and license plate lights provide an extra margin of safety at night.
The heart of any Super Car is its powerplant – in this case a LS3 525hp, 377cid crate motor with 10.8 to 1 compression was selected. This is an IMCA spec racing engine that provides the TMT with a power-to-weight ratio of 1hp per 3lbs of car. It is the ideal power package for this 1600-pound race bred Track Roadster. A 165amp alternator is mounted low on the left front of the engine with a custom double idler serpentine belt drive. It has a special water pump, water fill and a water overflow can beautifully fabricated from aluminum with a bottom-in and a vent out design. Special TMP engine block-type coil mounts clean up the rocker covers. A front inlet extension ducts cold air from in front of the radiator through a high flow K&N cone style air cleaner. The electrical harness is custom fit and the engine calibration package is a custom EFI that uses all of the feedback sensors to guarantee a perfect running engine. The radiator is a custom-built triple pass aluminum stucture with purpose designed tanks and water tubes by Scott Lacy, master craftsman.
A key feature of the TMT is the ultra-thin bellhousing/transmission package. Not only does the Track Master Products manufactured bellhousing relocate the starter, it is reduced in overall diameter to accept a nine-inch-diameter dual disc clutch assembly. This along with the just released Legend SS700 5-speed transmission allows the driveline tunnel to be much smaller, making the cockpit roomier.
The rear end is an extremely strong Winters quick change steel tube and bell. Ratios can be quickly changed in a matter of minutes from a 3.33:1 ratio to a 4.30:1. It uses a Torsen geared type limited slip - wedge lock differential. The custom axles with 6 3/4” pins on a five-inch circle carry big Ford bearings with seals. The vented disc brakes are Wilwood 12” x.810” on TMP carriers with Wilwood Dyna Pro calipers and special E brake. Three-wing knockoff nuts hold the 15 x 7 front and 18 x 11 rear Halibrand style smoothies. The tires are Mickey Thompson SR 26x8 front 30x12 rear.
The interior upholstery panels are molded ABS and designed to optimize as much of the interior space as possible. Like most ultra luxury cars, the upholstery is left up to the taste and design of the buyer. The Carrell Speedway Special exhibited here uses a plain split cowhide with embroidered logos. The floorboards are a carbon fiber foam core design riding on a mastic material that isolates vibration. A fuse panel and computer hinges up under the right side of the dash. The clutch and brake pedals are adjustable racecar style with balance bar. The steering wheel position is positioned for driver comfort and aggressive driving control.
As you can see the attention to detail is staggering. Every bolt and nut is specified for its strength and application. For more details and specifications please refer to the individual spec charts included here. In conclusion, there are going to be 10 TMTs built with nine available to discriminating car enthusiasts. There never has been a hot rod built with this much design and development, and there will probably never be another in the future due to the cost and dedication involved. The TrackMaster T is a 525hp, 1800-pound Super Car with a fully tuneable chassis and real knock-off wheels. The driving experience is a cross between a real formula racecar and the roadability of a current BMW M5 sport coupe.