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Monday, April 22, 2024

Shockwave – The Fastest Jet Engine-Powered Truck Ever Made

Trucks aren’t usually built for speed, but in the right hands they can become faster than any commercially-available supercar, and there’s no better proof than the legendary Shockwave, the fastest truck ever built

Originally built by the legendary Les Shockley in 1984, Shockwave was modified by Darnell Racing Enterprises and is still the Guinness record holder for ‘the world’s fastest jet truck’. The heavily-modified Peterbilt Semi had literally nothing under the hood, but that’s because a jet truck doesn’t need a diesel engine. Instead, this powerplant on wheels featured three Pratt & Whitney J58s jet engines at the back, which could develop a total of 36000 bhp to propel Shockwave forward at, well, shocking speeds. It could cover a quarter mile in 6.5 seconds, while a supercar like the Lamborghini Aventador does it in “only” 10.4 seconds.

Photo: U.S. Navy photo by Photographer’s Mate 2nd Class Anthony Koch

Getting a full-sized truck at speeds of up to 376 mph in well under 10 seconds required crazy amounts of energy, so it’s no wonder that Shockwave had a fuel consumption of 400 gallons per mile, and even more when its afterburners were activated. It wasn’t the most fuel-efficient vehicle ever built, that’s for sure, but it was built to compete against actual airplanes in quarter-mile races, so no one actually cared about its fuel consumption.

“On acceleration, the driver experiences about 6G,” Chris Darnell, Shockwave’s pilot, said in an interview. “We then stop this beast using two 16in ring slot military parachutes, which produce an impact of up to negative 9G. It is some ride.”

Photo: Balon Greyjoy/Wikimedia Commons

Piloting the world’s fastest full jet truck was one of the most exhilarating experiences possible, but it was one of the most dangerous as well. In June of last year, during the Battle Creek Field of Flight and Balloon Festival held at Battle Creek Airport, Shockwave suffered a mechanical failure and was involved in a catastrophic rollover that killed its driver and caused the truck to disintegrate.

Shockwave set the world record for the fastest jet truck almost a decade ago, and even though the truck is no longer around, its record will probably remain unbroken for some time.


For more incredible beasts on wheels, check out the world’s largest truck, and the most powerful fire truck ever built.

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