Extreme E

Extreme E’s MDD-1, MDD-2 rescue vehicles built on Storm SRTV military platform

3 Mins read
Credit: Chip Ganassi Racing

Extreme E is one of the more revolutionary ideas in racing, setting itself apart from other electric championships with its off-road premise and other off-road series in its unique and distant locations, as well as its Legacy Programmes and climate awareness campaigns. This even extends to emergency transport as rescue workers attend to wrecked cars in a heavily modified military light vehicle.

At the season-ending Energy X Prix in November, the series débuted a pair of rescue vehicles dubbed the MDD-1 and MDD-2. Constructed by XE team Chip Ganassi Racing, both are built on the platform of HDT Global‘s Storm Search and Rescue Tactical Vehicle (SRTV) used by the United States Armed Forces.

“We recognised the remote and extreme locations that would require a purpose-built medical response vehicle that would be able to quickly access a crashed or damaged Extreme E race vehicle in challenging environments,” explained CGR XE manager Dave Berkenfield. “There is nothing more important to Chip Ganassi Racing, Extreme E and all the teams in the paddock than driver safety, especially when you factor in how extreme and remote some of these events are.”

Berkenfield was a United States Navy SEAL for over two decades before joining Ganassi as a mobility specialist and being named their Extreme E director ahead of the inaugural season in 2021. Via his military connections, he procured a pair of unused SRTVs from their creator BC Customs which were then converted into their current state. The process, occurring at CGR’s base in Indianapolis, took over a hundred hours and was a joint project with Whelen Engineering.

The “MDD” designation in the vehicles’ names refers to MDD Europe, who supplies medical goods for the FIA and sanctioned championships including Extreme E.

“These amazing vehicles allow us to mobilize our extraction and medical teams, all together in one vehicle, with upgraded extraction gear and the highest level of mobile medical equipment,” commented MDD head Mark Lait. “This combined ability allows us to manage multiple simultaneous incidents and ensure we can deliver the highest level of care for the drivers, and transport them quickly to the medical centre, even with the most challenging of terrain.”

Designed by BC Customs in 2004 and inducted into service in 2013, the Storm SRTV is used by the United States Air Force as part of its Guardian Angel search-and-rescue operations, hence its official status as a “Guardian Angel Air-Deployable Rescue Vehicle” (GAARV). In its base form, the SRTV is a 4×4 vehicle that runs on a 430-horsepower engine and can exceed 161 km/h in speed. As an off-road utility vehicle, it is capable of navigating difficult terrain while fulfilling military abilities with multiple weapon mount areas.

The Extreme E version also boasts live video feeds of the race course and upgraded communications relays to Race Control.

“Driver safety is a critical issue at Extreme E and we are committed to having the absolute best equipment and solutions at our disposal,” stated series chief officer James Taylor. “Extreme E has a world-class network of teams and personnel so when Dave Berkenfield and the Chip Ganassi Racing team came to us with this idea, we were all ears. These purpose-built medical response vehicles are the result of top military operators drawing on their experiences on the front lines and transferring their skills and knowledge to the remote, extreme nature of our championship.”

While the MDD-1 and -2 are examples of military technology applying to racing, some elements of the former have motorsport roots as well. NASCAR Cup Series team Hendrick Motorsports, a technical ally of CGR until the latter sold their stock car division, has collaborated with General Motors’ defence branch since 2020 to build the Infantry Squad Vehicle for the U.S. Army. The ISV is modelled after the Chevrolet Colorado ZR2, which is currently used in desert racing by Hall Racing; the team’s sister company Rod Hall Products, whose late namesake is a Baja 1000 legend, provides automotive parts for the Armed Forces including the ISV.

CGR finished fourth in the 2022 Extreme E standings with a victory at the first Island X Prix. While Sara Price ran all five rounds for the team, Baja 1000 competitor RJ Anderson helped unveil the MDD-1 and -2 in Uruguay as regular driver Kyle LeDuc was unavailable.

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Justin is not an off-road racer, but he writes about it for The Checkered Flag.
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