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Land-speed racing pickup truck? Nissan says ‘Why not?’

A full-size diesel pickup truck doesn’t sound like the best base for a land-speed record-beater, but Nissan is betting its 2016 Titan XD has what it takes. It unveiled a Titan modified for land-speed racing at the 2015 SEMA show in Las Vegas, and it definitely looks fast.

Called “Triple Nickel” in reference to the Titan’s 555 pound-feet of torque, the truck was built in collaboration with Cummins, which supplies the 2016 Titan XD’s 5.0-liter diesel V8. Racing modifications include lowered suspension, smooth salt-flat style disc wheel covers, a front air dam, and bed covers. A special seat and a parachute have already been installed for safety reasons, and Nissan will add a roll cage and other equipment before any record attempts.

The great thing about land-speed records is that there are plenty of them to beat. Multiple organizations host racing events, and there are many classes encompassing a wide variety of vehicles. Nissan says it’s aiming for the class D/DT record, which currently stands at 191 mph, and the FIA A-III-9 record, which is currently 115 mph.

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Nissan says both it and Cummins already have land-speed record efforts underway, run by employees who volunteer their time. They compete at events run by the East Coast Timing Association in Wilmington, Ohio, as well as at the legendary Bonneville salt flats in Utah. These in-house racers will apply their experience to the Triple Nickel Titan.

While a land-speed record would certainly look impressive on a resume, Nissan is obviously emphasizing more practical things in its first redesign of the Titan in a decade. It hopes to hook customers with the unusual combination of a diesel engine and a half-ton truck chassis. The Titan XD should not only boast good fuel economy, but also towing and hauling abilities comparable to larger trucks, Nissan has said.

The average Titan owner will never experience anything near the speed the Triple Nickel should be capable of, so it will be interesting to see if the old adage “win on Sunday, sell on Monday” holds true in this case.