When it comes to off-road performance, most in the industry do not think about trucks first. Off-road racing is dominated by machines like the RZR, Can-Am or trophy trucks, not a stock vehicle. Off-road or dirt racing remains one of the most raw forms of racing, where skill and a mechanical know how go further than having a great pit crew.
While the Ford Raptor might be the most well known as an off road vehicle, what you might be missing in your thinking is what about Chevrolet?
Back in 2019, Chevy announced that it would take the Silverado full-size pickup and enter it on the Best in the Desert racing series along with the Colorado ZR2 that had been used in previous races. Since then, Hall Racing led by Chad Hall has been the proving grounds for Chevy Performance racing. From races like the BlueWater Desert Challenge, to the Mint 400, Vegas to Reno race and most recently the King Shocks Laughlin Desert Classic, all races that make up the Best in the Desert series.
Now, in 2021, all of that time and development has paid off as Chevrolet has announced the production of the 2022 Silverado and Silverado ZR2. The Silverado ZR2 drives into the flagship position of Chevy Trucks’ factory-lifted off-road lineup, offering race-proven off-road performance customers can buy right from the showroom floor. The ZR2 brings together a premium interior, immersive technology, a number of standard safety equipment features and off-road prowess in a comprehensive package. While the Silverado received many upgrades to its’ exterior and interior, it is the Silverado ZR2 that will receive all of the attention. ZR2’s suspension upgrades, enhanced off-road technology and exterior enhancements were developed to optimize off-road performance and capability, whether desert running or rock crawling, while balancing everyday driving comfort and supporting comparable payload and trailering capability to other Silverado off-road trims. ZR2 max payload is 1,440 pounds and the conventional trailer weight rating is 8,900 pounds.
“The Silverado is legendary and continues to excite both new and loyal customers. For the new 2022 model, we’ve enhanced the Silverado lineup to build on its success, giving customers more choice, a refined design and new technology options. The addition of the all-new Silverado ZR2, Chevy’s flagship off-road truck, builds on an already strong portfolio of factory-lifted pickups from Chevrolet that are bringing in new buyers.” – Kelly MacDonald, director, Chevrolet Truck Marketing.
Obviously, the main attraction of car and truck racing is the adrenaline-surging thrill of high speed, thunderous noise, and the shared experience with tens of thousands of like-minded fans of both vehicular sports.
But beyond the championships won through racing, comes one of the most important developments vehicle manufacturers could ever gain. The benefit to racing can be primarily centered on the extreme engineering insight such sports provide makers of everyday components for both types of vehicles. Racing a car, truck, UTV or even a motorcycle pushes the machine to its limit, and engineers then take that data, and the result is a better model machine for you the consumer. Most recently, the most well-known short course off-road race was run in Crandon, Wisconsin with Chevy taking home a third place win in the Pro2 versus Pro4 race. Chevy also shared footage (below) with us from the Vegas to Reno race a few weeks back, where both Silverado and Colorado ZR2 race trucks competed. In that race, Colorado ZR2 finished first in its class, ahead of the Jeep Gladiator.
The Silverado is dual purpose for off-road racing. Racing for the win, but racing for the development. The Silverado will run with a new long-travel suspension, prototype Multimatic DSSV dampers, and front and rear jounce shocks. What does the jounce shock do? The Jounce Shock System enhances gross vehicle motion control, it also increases suspension bump capacity, and it provides exceptional bottoming protection for extreme off-road conditions.
This isn’t the first time that you see the Multimatic DSSV dampers, however. They made their first appearance in an off-road truck application on the Colorado ZR2. Chevy has said that the prototype set is of a higher capacity. The dampers will help keep the bigger Silverado in check with a higher wheel, and overall it’ll have better control.
The rear shock skids and the skid plates cover a lot of the underbody which rounds out the race-prepped Silverado’s upgrades.
“Chevrolet has been competing on some of the most grueling, toughest off-road courses with a prototype Silverado ZR2 in the Best in the Desert race series. We applied what we learned in racing and Moab testing to the new ZR2 to offer a supremely capable and confidence-inspiring package, but one that doesn’t beat you up on the highway with its ride quality. It’s equally capable and comfortable. Off-road racing is brutal –a single off-road race creates more wear-and-tear than most vehicles will experience in a year. This extreme testing help us shape our performance parts and accessories portfolio, our GM Defense projects and production-vehicle offerings. Durability is the most important aspect of competing off-road. Most of the development info we collect is suspension related. Other than special safety equipment, the trucks are pretty much stock production. We’re always monitoring things like engine vitals, transmission performance, HVAC, etc. If you remember, we have the A/C on and windows up during the race – intentionally.”
– Dom Lester, General Motors chief engineer, Performance Variants, Parts and Motorsports Engineering
ZR2 highlights include:
- Standard 6.2L V-8 engine, delivering 420 horsepower and 460 lb-ft of torque, mated with a 10-speed automatic transmission
- Silverado-first application of Multimatic 40mm DSSV spool-valve dampers, which feature:
- Three separate spool valves to control damping
- Three connected chambers for fluid flow
- Uniquely-tuned springs that, with the Multimatic dampers, increase maximum front and rear suspension travel, compared to the Silverado Trail Boss
- Front and rear e-lockers
- Specific off-road chassis and suspension calibrations, including Terrain Mode, which allows one-pedal5 rock crawling
- Specific 33-inch off-road MT tires
- Unique skid plate package
- New high-approach steel front bumper designed for off-road strength, durability and clearance that enables an improved 31.8-degree approach angle compared to other Silverado off-road models