The Big Red Machine

One of the more eye-catching trucks participating at the uphill truck drag races in St. Joseph DeBeauce in Quebec, Canada, has to be Mario Racicot’s 2009 Freightliner Argosy. It grabs your attention in so many ways – it’s the only cabover on the hill and it has a bright red paint job – but most of the attention comes from the huge dual exhaust and four intakes nestled between them. This truck not only appeals to the eyes, but when Mario twists the key, the real fun begins with a very familiar sound from the past.

Shoe-horned under the cab of this 2009 Freightliner Argosy cabover is a 24V71 Detroit Diesel, which should re-kindle those memories of when the two-stroke screamin’ Detroits were on the highways everywhere. That’s right, 24 cylinders, at 71 inches each, for a total of 1,704 cubic-inches of power and noise under Mario’s right foot. And you can bet, when this “Big Red Machine” is on the track, your eyes and ears will know it!

Mario and his mechanic Alain Tessier started with a 2009 Argosy glider kit, and two years later this beautiful beast emerged from the garage, ready for work and play, blowing minds wherever it went. When asked why he built this truck, Mario’s answer was quick and to the point: “I had several trucks and none of them had enough power, but that’s not the case with this one.” The engine, of 1995 vintage, was removed from a 135-foot boat – Mario scored two of them, so he could have some spare parts, if needed.

Fed by four superchargers and four turbochargers, nearly 2,000 horsepower is funneled through a 6-speed Allison automatic transmission, borrowed from an off-road quarry dump truck, and hits the ground via a set of 46,000-lb. rated rear-ends. Behind the grille, and integrated into the rear cab housing, are five radiators – two each for the engine and transmission, and one for the engine aftercooler – all working together to dissipate the heat generated by the monster Detroit, hidden under that doghouse.

“The toughest part of this project was making everything fit. Alain and I had to rework a lot of things to do that,” says Mario. One may think this is a race-only truck, but it’s not. Mario’s business is transporting sand and gravel, so there’s usually a 3- or 4-axle dump trailer mated to the 28,000-lb. tractor, delivering the goods wherever needed.

The craftsmanship and attention to detail throughout this unique vehicle makes it equally at home on the road, at the track or at a show. Those visuals, combined with the unmistakable sound generated by that two-stroke Detroit Diesel power plant from the past, makes this truck a total overload for both the eyes and ears. Photos do not do this “Big Red Machine” justice, so to hear the music for yourself, check out one of the many videos of this truck on YouTube (search for Mario Racicot Freightliner). Enjoy!

About Mike Bradford