Ditch Witch first revised the hot rod in 1982, switching out the frame and changing the color scheme from orange to black. In 1990, the old engine was swapped out for a fuel-injected 355 V-8 that ran on alcohol. A supercharger kit boosted the dirt-ripping madness to 804 hp.
The next version, in 1996, received a 502 V-8, which spit out 475 hp. Today's unit, built in 2001, uses an
RT Series frame with a supercharged 502 V-8 that cranks out 850 hp. It runs on a 104-octane blend of regular gasoline and aviation fuel.
"The only reason we've ever changed [the frame, paint, etc.] is to match the product we are selling," says Pemberton. "About 80% of the trencher is stock equipment."
Designed to grab attention, the Super Witch at posted times will rev up and pop wheelies around Ditch Witch's demonstration area at the exhibition. You won't see the Super Witch do any trenching on the ICUEE show grounds, though.
"There's just too much fill out there," Pemberton says. "You can't safely dig with it." The super-powered trencher, he notes, is capable of chewing up the earth at a rate of about 100 ft per minute—five times faster than a normal machine.
Looking to capitalize on the spectacle, Ditch Witch has toyed around with other hopped-up construction equipment, such as a remote-controlled mini track loader called the ">Super Witch VI. The little Witch suffered from electronic problems, though, and show coordinators decided to shelve it.
"It had to be perfect because it would go right up to the crowd," says Jeri Lamerton, Ditch Witch's public-relations manager. "If anything went wrong, you had a major nightmare."
For now, the Super Witch will continue to perform at ICUEE, and Pemberton will be there entertaining the crowd. He admits, however, that the view from the seat is not as exciting as it used to be.
"After doing it that many years, it's not as big of a thrill," he says.