Bill Payne isn’t afraid to venture into the unconventional—and his newest demonstration of automotive ingenuity comes in the form of a 9,600-pound modified tank.
Payne is the founder of Straight Up Racing—an independent monster truck racing team based in Port Orchard, Washington—and has recently debuted a new vehicle, dubbed the “Major Payne”. Adapted from a WWII tank, it’s far from your average monster truck.
Bill Payne posing with the "Major Payne"
The Major Payne is modified from an M5 Half-Track Personnel Carrier—produced from 1942 to 1943—though the only original elements remaining are the tracks, suspension, and rear drive axle. Twelve thousand pounds of weight was dropped in the build, which took over a year to complete. A custom-built reverser box provides the tank with remarkable agility, allowing it to safely pivot on its back idler—offering the illusion of wheelies without risking spinal damage for the driver.
“The adrenaline rush from the Major Payne tank is unlike anything with the monster trucks,” Payne commented at the tank’s first live performance in Roseburg, Oregon. “With the monster trucks, they’re very predictable on how the run’s going to be—we still have no idea what this tank’s all about. We don’t know what its capabilities are going to be—what the limitations are going to be.”
The Major Payne is a modified WWII personnel carrier
Watching the Major Payne perform, the limitations appear to be few. A big-block Chevrolet engine with JE pistons, AFR cylinder heads, and a Weiand 8-71 blower furnish the Major Payne with a whopping 1,100 horsepower. The tank is also decked out with a high-flow K&N air filter and performance oil filter.
“I had no idea this thing was going to get as muddy as it does,” Payne mused. “There’s mud in the cab, in the back—the radiator’s full. Starting with a K&N air filter we know we have protection that’s second to none. By starting this project that way, we know we have an engine that’s going to last a long time.”
The Major Payne features a K&N air filter and oil filter
You can catch the Straight Up Racing team—and the Major Payne—on May 11 at the Magic Valley Speedway in Twin Falls, Idaho, as part of the Malicious Monster Truck Tour.