A Full Overview for the TRD Desert Chase 3rd Gen Tundra Concept – OEM Long Travel, Custom Wide Body Fenders, Specially Designed Armor & Accessories
The completely redesigned, brand new 2022 Toyota Tundra was engineered to be built tough and durable. It was designed for maximum power, capability, and performance both on-road and off-road. Of all the Tundra models released so far, it is likely one of the toughest and most capable thanks to its new platform and frame design, turbocharged engine, and advanced suspension.
Marty Schwerter, of Toyota Motorsports Garage, and the team at Toyota Racing Development (TRD) decided to take the newest Tundra to the next level. The team really wanted to reflect and drive home Toyota’s “Born from Invisible” heritage by transforming the TRD Pro trim into an even tougher beast with impressive results.
The Concept: TRD Desert Chase Tundra.
Toyota unveiled its iteration of a chase truck at the 2021 Specialty Equipment Market Association (SEMA) Show press conference. The truck took Instagram and the media by storm with enthusiasts drooling over the new platform in anticipation of getting their hands on one to replicate what Toyota had created.
What is a “Chase Truck”?
Chase trucks are used in remote, off-road terrains (like deserts) to support race vehicles during a race. They often carry the crew and are equipped with gear, supplies, and operational equipment used to perform any necessary repairs or adjustments on a race vehicle. Unlike traditional car races where pit lanes and paddocks within the closed-circuit race track are in place to provide needed support and repairs, open desert races, like the Baja 1000, require a dependable chase truck that can follow the race car throughout the race and step in – should a repair or assistance be necessary.
It’s not an exaggeration to say that desert trucks and their crews play a critical role in winning these types of races. That is why it is essential that chase trucks are able to travel long distances while carrying a heavy payload that includes tools, spare parts, and equipment. They must be reliable and durable enough to withstand the grueling demands of the terrain. So, what better platform to have than a truck with the trusted Toyota nameplate?
Ultimate Desert Tundra Power & Performance
The Desert Chase Tundra is based on the TRD Pro trim – the Tundra model specially designed for off-roading. This trim comes equipped with Toyota’s new hybrid power plant; the i-FORCE MAX twin-turbocharged 3.5-liter V6 engine. It builds on Toyota’s i-Force engine by adding an all-new hybrid electric power system. An electric motor is mated with the engine and is placed in between the engine and a 10-speed automatic transmission.
According to Toyota, the electric motor’s immediate torque response shows no discernible lag as the turbochargers spool up. This makes power feel instantaneous, a critical advantage for chase truck drivers who need to be able to keep up with the truck they are supporting in the grueling desert race.
This engine delivers impressive horsepower and torque for off-road racing: 437 horsepower and 583 lb.-ft. of torque, with maximum torque coming at a low 2,400 rpm. This motor is very powerful and Toyota promises, it will replace the outgoing V8 with ease! The new i-Force Max is not a powertrain you want to sleep on.
Advanced TRD Suspension Setup
For maximum performance on demanding off-road courses, a long-travel suspension is fitted on the TRD Pro’s existing stock mounting points, which means no modifications to the vehicle were made to accommodate the new suspension.
This makes the body of the Tundra wider, which created the need for a custom wide-body kit design. The fiberglass kit the team developed follows the lines of the 2022 Tundra perfectly while still maintaining the OEM look. For me, this was a huge plus.
Method Race Wheels produced the lightweight 18-inch forged aluminum wheels for this build. The wheels come with 37-inch General Tire Grabber X3 all-terrain tires and are built to minimize unsprung suspension weight.
Having this big of tires on the SEMA build shows us that fitting 37s under this new platform should be fairly easy. Now, how about the 40s?!
Optimal Illumination for Night Driving
Many desert races do not just occur during the day but extend into the night. The TRD Desert Chase Tundra comes equipped with side and rear-facing Rigid lights as well as a front-facing Rigid light bar.
This provides much needed illumination for those desert races that take place at night. For enhanced aerodynamics and to minimize wind noise, the light bar can be electronically lowered below the roofline and raised whenever needed. This light bar can accommodate up to eight individual lights.
All of the lights on this truck are controlled by a Switch Pros RCR Force 12.
This 12-panel system allows the driver to easily command multiple lights and radio all by the single push of a button.
The Switch Pro controller is placed on the massive center console, and yes, you can still wirelessly charge your phone.
Composite Truck Bed Accessories
A service/utility bed is erected on the truck bed to accommodate and secure all the essential tools and equipment necessary to support a desert race. It is bolted directly to the Tundra TRD Pro’s existing OEM truck bed bolt locations. Items included on the truck bed are:
- ARB Tred Pro Recovery board mounted on the side of the structure – It comes in handy when the vehicle gets stuck in the silt. By mounting on the side, the support crew has easy access to it when needed.
- Two (2) roll bar mounted spare tires – These types of races can sometimes eat up tires and having spares ensures tires are timely replaced.
- Water and fuel containers – These are critical, should the race vehicle run out and need to be refueled.
- 15-lb CO2 bottle
- Custom-made roll bar
- Custom-mounted Pro Eagle 3 Ton Big Wheel jack
It is impressive what the Toyota team accomplished with the Desert Chase Tundra at this year’s SEMA. However, as this is just a concept design, it is highly unlikely that it will ever be available for sale. Still, it was a great way to showcase the all-new Tundra’s power, functionality, and versatility.
Hopefully though, what does come of this are some more OEM TRD parts. I for one would love to have some TRD UCA/LCAs on my future Tundra build. Not only that, but I think that it would be nice for Toyota to add that to the TRD Pro Tundra coming out in March 2022. Toyota has definitely been pushing the envelope lately and stepping out of its comfort zone with the off-road prototype builds. I just hope that this “concept” becomes a reality!