The Fast Lane Truck team is very excited about the next installment of the Ike Gauntlet – Light Duty Edition. What is Ike Gauntlet? It’s an extreme towing test to stress every component of a truck and show its true colors. The test begins in Silverthorne Colorado at the elevation of 9,035 ft. From there the trucks merge onto the east-bound I-70 for an 8-mile climb up the steepest stretch of the United States interstate system to the Eisenhower / Johnson Memorial tunnel. The finish line is right before entering the tunnel at 11,158 ft above sea level. Each truck must also complete the return trip back down to Silverthorne to test out the transmission and the braking systems.
What Are We Towing?
We are testing 4WD crew cabs, and the F-150 Ecoboost had the largest maximum towing rating in this group (9,600 lbs). So we carefully chose a load that will stress these pickups near their maximum ratings. Enter the Diamond in the Rough – the 1978 Lincoln Continental Mark V Diamond Jubilee edition, which is sitting on a double axle flat bed trailer. Total weight of the Lincoln and trailer is: 7,120 lbs. Yep, this Lincoln has a lot of heft. That’s not all. Don’t forget that Roman, Nathan, and Mr Truck Kent Sundling are in the trucks to provide the data and commentary. Lets just say that the guys and gear add another 750 lbs – if we are rounding up.
The Way Up
The engine and transmission will be stressed to the max gaining over 2,000 feet of elevation in just eight miles. The average grade of this climb is 7%. And the engines will be starving for oxygen and struggling to make power at the 11,158 ft finish line. The test is to use maximum throttle input on the way up in order to maintain the 60 MPH speed limit (or the maximum speed the truck is able to maintain below that). This is also a test for the driver as very slow moving semi trucks and other vehicles are obstacles to maintaining momentum and staying at 60 MPH. We are also measuring how quickly the trucks merge onto I-70 in Silverthorne.
We also want to know how capable the brakes and transmission are descending from the tunnel to Silverthorne. This is perhaps even more important than being fast on the uphill. The trucks must be safe and practical on the way down. Nobody wants to deal with overheated or lost brakes. Here the measurement is simple. The trucks must maintain a safe and practical speed at or below the 60 MPH on the way down. We measure the brake rotor temperatures at the bottom and the truck with the coolest brakes is the winner. Of course, we also monitor the transmission and engine temperatures on all runs.
The Ike Gauntlet videos start this Wednesday, Aug 21st, 2013. We will have all the data listed here.
Andre Smirnov is a life-long automotive enthusiast, writer, reporter, and software engineer. He has been a contributor at TFLcar since 2011. When not working or spending time with the family – you can find him tinkering in the garage or simply ‘going for a drive’.