The Fusion of Great Engineering

Predator Performance teams up with Bilstein Shock Absorbers

Jul. 01, 2006 By Jaime Hernandez

Predator Performance has developed some very unique off-road cars. One of its most notable ones is the Wildcat featuring its CrossFire™ suspension delivering a true 24-inches of travel. With unique design, and out of the box engineering—it has caught the attention of even the most sophisticated off-roader.

Predator Performance out of Pennsylvania is no stranger to motorsports and building winning cars. With an already successful Hooters Cup team, company and team owner Dennis Raybuck decided to partner up with Southern California mechanical engineer and off-road enthusiast George Bennett to make an off-road car that would rock the off-road market. So far they have had great success shocking the crowds at the desert and dunes—but some are still skeptical of its bold design.

CrossFire™ – Cantilevered suspension, providing a true 24-inches of travel

At first glance, the design might be a little too much to digest; but after talking to George Bennett you learn to give it a different level of appreciation. You see, this car was not just made for bold looks; it’s a purpose built motorsport machine. Bennet points out that the design of the CrossFire™ will transfer a shock load from the left side of the car to the opposite side therefore keeping the car’s frame level. This is something that is not always achievable with an A-Arm suspension found on most long-travel cars.

The rear of the Wildcat also has 24-inches of travel thanks to the 5-link rear suspension which helps control CV angle. This set-up is very similar to what is found in Trophy Trucks that race in SCORE.

Predator Performance cars are CAD designed and tested

Predator Performance didn’t just draw up a quick sketch, weld up some tubes, and call it an off-road car. They really did their homework by having their cars fully engineered and tested by Predator Performance and ATI Engineering. These cars were CAD drawn, precision built, and had countless hours of R&D to make them what they are today.

Taming the Wildcat

During the design stages in 2004, Predator Performance was looking for the best of the best performance off-road parts to be used in their new cars. While at the SEMA show, they found a company that had just introduced an off-road race shock that was as revolutionary as their envisioned project. Bilstein Shock Absorbers had launched the most advanced off-road racing shock absorber on the market—the 9300 Series Black Hawk™.

Bilstein Shock Absorbers is a leader in the monotube gas pressured shock absorber market. With more off-road race wins than any other shock manufacturer, Bilstein had the technology to build the most innovative shock absorbers for the off-road market. This multi-patented all aluminum body shock absorber is lighter, stronger, and much more tunable than other shocks on the market.

Designed with off-road racers in mind, the team at Bilstein spent years working on this project with countless analysis of different designs and materials to make racers trucks and cars handle with precision and the confidence of running the coolest, strongest shocks on the course. Only a select few run the 9300 Series Black Hawk™ at this time. They are Martin Christensen – Class 1 SCORE, Victor Herrera Jr. - Class 7 SCORE, Jerry Zaiden – Camburg Trophy Truck SCORE/1450 MDR.

The same shocks that these hard hitting off-road racers run are the same ones being utilized for the Predator Performance Cars.

Without a doubt, the impressive 9300 Bilstein Black Hawk™ adds to the Wildcat’s unique design. The fusion of two well engineered products has led to the function of a suspension design that not only catches people’s eyes, but also leaves them with their jaws dropped as the Predator Performance car passes them on the whoops. The Wildcat is an example of a stout chassis and refined suspension design that works and will out-run most any car on the dunes or desert.

George Bennett is confident that with some time and education, he will be able to help people get into what seems to be the next big thing: Dual Sport off-road cars. Duners are starting to find that they would rather pay more money for a stronger built car that can be used in both the sand dunes and desert terrain.

In the Cockpit

Even Jack Roush likes these Cool Cats

We had the opportunity earlier in the year to meet up with Predator Performance and Bilstein Shock Absorbers out at the Imperial Sand Dunes (AKA “Glamis”). This was a very special day at the dunes because we actually got to see first hand how the Wildcat’s suspension was being set-up and tuned. The off-road division techs from Bilstein worked hard under the sun trying different tuning variables like valving, compression/rebound adjustment on by-pass tubes, and a variety of spring rates. Tuning a car is a science in itself.

BIG enough for a 6' 5" MAN, and smooth for the LADIES

After trying a few different set-ups and testing them, both the Bilstein team and Predator Performance found something they liked. So it was time to go take a run. We jumped in the car, strapped in, and held on for our lives!

We were truly amazed with the way the Wildcat handled. We hit the whoop section on Sand Highway and did a steady 80mph+ without letting off the gas. I’ve been in a few sandcars through the same area, and they can’t touch the Wildcat’s smooth and precision handling.

The CrossFire™ suspension and Bilstein 9300 Series Black Hawk dampers worked in unison to keep the Wildcat floating over the deep sand whoops on the road. With plenty of power coming from the LS6, it’s a good thing when you can open it up with the confidence that you will not loose control due to your suspension not being able to keep up with the car. There was no bucking from the rear, or too much digging-in from the front. Duning up a storm was also great; these cars can carve up and down the dunes and smoothly travel across the faces. Transitioning from dune to dune was impressive with little body roll, adding to the adrenaline pumping G-force of duning.

Predator Performance cars are definitely well engineered and equipped with the highest level performance parts. The detail that goes into their making is a true sign of high craftsmanship. Predator may very soon be one of the leading performance dual sport desert cars at the dunes and desert.

For more information on Predator Performance and Bilstein Shock Absorbers please visit:

Predator Performance

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