There is a trick to launching a 700-horsepower super-truck off a jump. Here, in broad strokes, is how to do it, according to one very brave professional off-road racer who sat in the passenger seat and talked us through the steps. (Don’t try this at home.)
Before you begin, get the proper gear. Hoist yourself up and into Ram’s massive new 2021 TRX, the world’s most beastly and outlandish factory pickup. It costs $93,995 and is powered by a 6.2-litre, 700-horsepower supercharged V8 engine normally found in drag-racing specials like the Dodge Hellcat. (The motor alone costs $30,000.) The frame of the TRX is reinforced and redesigned and suspended by some very exotic Bilstein electronically-controlled remote reservoir shocks with 13 to 14 inches of travel. Think of it as a sports car you can use when the pavement ends.
Obviously: safety is key. The crew at Ram set us up with a racing helmet with HANS harness to reduce the chance of whiplash. They also laid out a closed-course off-road circuit with expertly-made jumps and landing zones.
The Run Up
Hitting the exact right speed for a given jump is everything. Too fast and the truck nosedives and/or overshoots the landing. Too slow and the truck won’t jump at all. The only way to find the Goldilocks speed is experience, combined with trial and error. We cheated. For this particular jump, the brave professional racer sitting in the passenger seat told us to hit the ramp at 65 km/h. That’s easier said than done on slick mud. It’s also impossible to look at both the speedo and the fast-approaching jump. Thankfully, the TRX is quite forgiving. Even hitting the jump at 75 km/h, only the front licence plate got bent; this 2,880 kg truck held up spectacularly well to repeated flights.
It doesn’t happen in slow motion like in the movies. One moment the wheels are spinning on terra firma and then you feel something drop away beneath you, followed by a split-second of weightlessness, like in a descending elevator. Hit the jump head on, with the steering straight. To keep the truck flying level, you’ve got to stay firmly on the throttle and only let off once all wheels are in the air. Whatever you do, don’t back off before the jump and definitely don’t hit the brakes or the truck will “auger in” as pilots say.
What Goes Up…
Once in the air, you should still see some sky out the front window. If you’re only staring at dirt, you’ve done something wrong and the truck is nosediving into a crash landing. In mid-air you can back off the throttle for a split second, but when the wheels touch back down – or just before – hit the accelerator. Keep the momentum going. If you’ve managed to put everything together just right, the miraculous Ram TRX cushions the landing so well you hardly feel it. It’s surprisingly graceful, like riding a ballet-trained elephant bouncing on a trampoline.
In short, the 2021 Ram TRX is the best pickup truck we’ve ever driven, and certainly the best one we’ve ever flown. If you’ve always wanted to race the Baja 1000 or speed across sand dunes – or just look like you could, if you wanted to – then this is the truck for you.
Some skills are obviously useful, like learning how to grill steak, or basic motorcycle maintenance. Other skills – like how to fly a 700-horsepower truck – well, skills like that are more aspirational; you hope to use them someday. Besides, you never know when you may find yourself in the middle of an action movie, being chased down by a grizzled Tom Cruise or Daniel Craig. In that case, you’ll be glad you took time to read this helpful story.