KrAZ (Kremenchukskyi Avtomobilnyi Zavod, Kremenchuk Automobile Plan) is a truck factory in Kremenchuk, Ukraine, founded in 1945. In early post-Soviet times, in the beginning of 1990s, KRAZ as some other ex-USSR truck manufacturers decided to try their luck in the increasingly popular European truck racing. Development of the racing truck begun in 1991 under the leadership of Vladimir Gavrilenko, ex racing driver and test engineer of the experimental workshop. According to the regulations, only trucks based on production models were allowed to participate in the races. However, KrAZ racing truck had little in common with the production model – at that time there was not even a 2-axle model in the KRAZ production line. It was empty under its hood, because the engine was installed behind the cab – this lowered the center of gravity of the car. And the engine itself was special. The idea to use regular YaMZ engines was immediately abandoned: the outdated design had a very weak potential for forcing. KRAZ turned for help to the Kharkov Malyshev plant, which then produced T-64 tanks and 5TDF multi-fuel engines for them. In the “tank” version its power was 750 hp, but for the racing KrAZ the engine was boosted to almost 1000 hp and tuned to use diesel fuel. The cabin panels were made of lightweight fiberglass, and the suspension was made completely independent.
The first tests of the KrAZ-5450 were carried out in the fall of 1991 at the Chaika race track near Kiev. A truck weighing more than 6 tons accelerated to 100 kmh in 12 seconds and developed 180 kmh. In July 1992 the factory team from Kremenchug went to the European Championship round at the Nurburgring track. The driver was Alexander Medvedchenko, the multiple USSR Formula Eastern champion. The car caused a real sensation in the paddock, Medvedchenko was 7th in the training in Class C. However, the 2-stroke tank diesel mercilessly smoked and spat out huge puffs of black smoke when the gas was pressed hard. Some participants asked to exclude KrAZ from the races, but the Ukrainian team was still allowed to race. In the first heat of Class C rear hub bearing broke, Medvedchenko was classified 14th, and did not start the race two. The first attempt was also the last. KrAZ team did not enter the competition again. The unique racing truck was abandoned somewhere in the factory for a long time, and was restored by Vladimir Gavrilenko in 2019.