America's New Military Off-Roader Has Nascar Technology

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Hendrick Motorsport teams up with GM Defense.

GM Defense, a subsidiary of General Motors, opened its new state-of-the-art production facility last week in Concord, North Carolina - just a two hours' drive from the US Army's Fort Bragg. It also named its new president, Steve duMont, whose previous gig was 13 years at Raytheon Intelligence & Space. Last summer, GM Defense won a contract from the US government worth over $200 million to build 649 units of the next-generation Infantry Squad Vehicle (ISV), which is based on the Chevrolet Colorado ZR2.

One of the key reasons why the ISV beat out proposals from rival defense manufacturers is because GM Defense said it could build a lightweight vehicle, something that'll be fast on the battlefield and can be transported there with ease by a Blackhawk helicopter. Enter Rick Hendrick and his company, Hendrick Motorsport.

GM Defense
GM Defense

Only 120 days after winning the contract, GM Defense has delivered the first ISV complete with Nascar-derived lightweight technologies. Hendrick Motorsport has won 266 Nascar Cup Series races with Chevy cars and GM Defense requested his input. "Our primary goal in racing is safety and weight," Hendrick told the Detroit Free Press. Safety and weight are two main elements the military requires.

"Our drivers are competing at speeds of up to 200 mph," said Marshall Carlson, president of Hendrick Motorsports. "So the chassis and that protective structure around where the driver is and where the fuel tank is - it has to be an excellent design" when there's a crash.

For now, Hendrick's company will build 649 exoskeletons for the ISV and the completed vehicles will all be delivered to the US military by 2024.

GM Defense
GM Defense
GM Defense

After receiving authorization, GM Defense will increase production to 2,065 vehicles over the course of the eight-year agreement. Another of Hendrick Motorsport's contributions to the ISV is the carbon-fiber seat technology designed specifically to provide increased body protection.

"Now we have unbelievable crashes and the drivers walk away," Hendrick said. "In the military, that's priority one: Protect the soldiers."

Hendrick is clearly a GM and Chevy guy (he's the one who bought the first C8 Corvette C8 for $3 million), and his decades of Nascar expertise blends perfectly with the military's ISV requirements. All testing is being done locally and having Concord being so close to Fort Bragg creates the ideal setting.

GM Defense
GM Defense
GM Defense
Source Credits: Detroit Free Press

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