What do you do if you have a massive diesel engine that used to be used for fracking laying around that you don’t need anymore?
Tom Simonss of Gillette decided to build one bad-ass car.
Simons has been a real estate broker for the better part of 20 years, but he trained as a welder. His dad had an oil field business for more than 30 years, and Simons did some work in the oil field.
While he doesn’t do any welding in real estate, he’s found a use for his mechanical skills.
Maximus, as Simons affectionately calls it, is a rat rod. These custom cars are built out of spare parts and usually meant to look rustic, rusted and unfinished. It gives them the appearance of being true machines, as opposed to sleek sports cars.
Simons said Maximus said will go over 100 mph, but it’s not about speed. It’s about power.
Oh, and he has to wear earplugs when driving it.
“She’s quite loud,” Simons told Cowboy State Daily.
Simons began Frankensteining his machine in summer 2021 and finished it up by the following summer.
It all began when his friend Bill Williams, who works in the oil fields, said he had a hydraulic fracturing pump engine he didn’t need anymore.
“I told him I was looking for something crazy, like a Detroit [engine], to do a rat rod, and he happened to have one he wasn’t using,” Simons said. “He’s a good friend and donated it to the cause.”
A frac pump, as they’re called, are used to pump fracking fluid down into a wellbore, which frees up oil and gas trapped in shale rock formations deep underground.
It’s the kind of job that requires some serious horsepower, and the 12v71 Detroit diesel engine Williams gave to Simons has about 450 horsepower.
Simons said he’s owned a lot of cars over the years, but this is the first rat rod he’s built.
Along with his good friend Lee Greene, Simons built the frame. The cab is from an old 1947 Diamond T truck.
“Lee donated countless hours of work for months, and his shop, to get Maximus on the road,” Simons said.
Simons said he’s taken Maximus all over Gillette. He also took it to Deadwood for the Kool Deadwood Nights show last year.
Earlier this month, he parked it at the Shell Rotella Super Rigs Truck Show in Gillette. He didn’t enter it in the show.
He had gone out to the show to look at the trucks. He went to have lunch, and while he was filling Maximus up at a gas station, someone flagged him down.
“They wanted me to put it back out at the show,” Simons said.
Going On Tour
In September, Simons said, he’s taking Maximus on the Official Rat Rod Magazine Tour. It’s a seven-day ride from Mitchell, Nebraska, to Langley, Illinois.
He said he’ll continue to put in some work on Maximus, though he’s not sure what’s next for the machine.
“Lee’s got a little shop, and we like tinkering with stuff. So, that’s what we’re going to do,” Simons said.