How 4 Teens Won GRM’s $2000 Challenge in a Low-Buck “Truck”

Grassroots Motorsports

It’s one thing to win a competition with an unlimited budget. It’s quite another to bring home top honors when you’ve got a strict cap on what you can spend. In this circumstance, it’s usually the most innovative and creative competitor that prevails, and Material Girls Racing proved that in this year’s Grassroots Motorsports $2000 Challenge. The team, made up of four high school seniors, evolved their vehicle over years of competition and came up with a winning formula that just happens to wear a Ford Ranger body.

This pink pickup actually sits on a 2013 Ford Taurus Police Intercepter chassis and is powered by a twin-turbo V-6 that sends power to all four wheels. The team says in a forum post that the police interceptor’s Ecoboost factory turbos and fuel pump are maxed out, which means there’s somewhere in the range of 400 hp on tap. It’s no slouch.

The project came together for the Grassroots Motorsports $2000 challenge, which pits builders against each other with a budget cap of $2024 (it goes up $1 each year to match the calendar). The event scores participants by quarter mile and autocross times, along with a concours presentation that allows judges to discuss how the cars are built with the people who turned the wrenches.

Material Girls Racing are repeat participants in the $2000 Challenge. Their ongoing pursuit of speed was the impetus for the body swap—they maxed out the heavy stock Taurus in last year’s competition. Budget constraints made finding more power in the Ecoboost difficult, and suspension tuning would have been another heavy spend. Tight purse strings meant the team had to get creative, so they took a page from Colin Chapman’s book and focused on adding lightness. Even after last year’s competition where the car ran almost fully stripped and only sporting the driver’s door, there was still a lot of weight that could be trimmed and still fit inside the rules for the competition.

After figuring out what models could match the Taurus’ wheelbase, the team found a $300 Ford Ranger on Facebook Marketplace. They got to work with sawzalls and other cutting implements, trimming away the Taurus’ unibody until a tractor could help drop the shell of the truck on top of what was left of the chassis. A roll bar tied to the Taurus chassis adds stiffness back into the structure. After lengthening a few panels and relocating the radiator to the bed of the truck, the team sprayed the Ranger in a coat of pink paint. According to the team, their efforts ended up shaving an impressive 900 pounds from the vehicle’s weight.

The team says they were inspired by Shirley Muldowney and other female legends of motorsport, and we think these Material Girls would have made Shirley and others proud by building a truck that not only looks pretty sweet but also performs incredibly well. The truck ran a 12.1-second quarter mile (enough for sixth overall out of 53 competitors) and completed the autocross with a 44.3-second time (good for ninth overall). It also posted with a solid “concours” score, and their performance across all disciplines was enough to put these high school seniors atop the leaderboard, narrowly edging out a 1990 Nissan 300ZX and 1985 Chevrolet Corvette.

As all four members of the team are about to graduate high school, squeezing in a first-place build in among schoolwork, college applications, and the rest of their busy schedules had to have been quite a feat. With the creativity, speed, and skill they showed with this project, we wouldn’t be the least bit surprised to see one or all of these young women on a Formula SAE team in the near future—it’s probably a safe bet that this isn’t the last time we’ll see them in motorsports.


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    Great job, ladies! I remember doing the inverse of this in high school shop. The teacher had obtained a Galaxie 500 Police Car that he wanted to use as a parade car for the high school (gotta have that Mayberry look). Got it dirt cheap since the frame was completely in half under it among other issues. So, we needed to frame swap it. Turns out they have a wheelbase around 120 inches, and an S10 was about the same (like 122 or 123 I recall). So we found a wrecked S10, chopped up and adjusted its frame and relocated the spring mounts (plus lowered it down), and a dirt-cheap parade car was born. I wouldn’t ever drive it at highway speeds, but it was great under 10 mph.

    This is a very interesting project they put together! My only concern would be the “maxed out” eco-burst turbo setup. Looks like a great job!

    With a color like that, those 4 better hope the truck is fast…oh, the 4 are girls? Never mind.

    A shout out to all the dinosaurs who made our automobile hobby such an exciting and engaging possibility!

    The GRM $2000 Challenge ($2024…) actually costs a LOT more than that. Many items are excluded — costs of safety equipment and tires the largest chunk. There is probably about three time the challenge costs in the entire vehicle. Still, it’s a lot less than a professional race car.

    I’m not in any way taking away from the accomplishments of any of the builders, just pointing out that there is more costs involved. These ladies did a wonderful job with a lot of creativity!

    Congratulations on the victory, Material Girls Racing, great job! Kyle, great article with no bias. Commenters, consider the same.

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