A Country in Lockdown—A Diesel Drag Race in Indiana
When history is written, 2020 will be remembered as the year the coronavirus pandemic shut down entire nations, some for months on-end. For drag racers, it will go down as the biggest disruption their racing hobby ever faced. When everything in America came to a grinding halt back in March, so did the niche sport of diesel drag racing. But long before any talk of reopening America was on the table, Adam Blattenberg, Brand Manager at Diesel World Magazine, was busy devising a plan to get back on the track. Somehow. Some way.
Searching for an avenue to go racing—even if a private testing session was all that could be pulled off—Diesel World, Nitto Tire USA and Wagler Motorsports Park teamed up for something as unprecedented as the pandemic itself. On Memorial Day weekend, there was diesel drag racing in Indiana—and the fastest oil-burners in the nation showed up to compete side by side. To see all the action as it unfolded via Diesel World’s live-feed, head over to https://www.facebook.com/dieselworldmag/. For a race recap and some of the best still shots we were able to pull out of Indiana, keep scrolling!
ODSS 1/8-Mile Action
To put on the best show possible, the race was run according to Outlaw Diesel Super Series rules. Turning to the premier sanctioning body in diesel drag racing meant that the most talented drivers in the nation would answer the call, that everything from 500hp street trucks to 3,000hp rails and Pro Mods would compete and that virtually zero downtime would occur on the track. A full ODSS show, ET Bracket, 7.70, 6.70 and 5.90 Index, Pro Street, Pro Mod and Pro Dragster classes were all on the docket.
A Track Out in God’s Country
Ninety miles southwest of Indianapolis, out in the middle of the corn fields, you’ll find Wagler Motorsports Park—a racing complex with one of the finest eighth-mile drag strips in the Midwest. Owned and operated by Jeremy Wagler, he and his small army of staffers went out of their way to accommodate racers for the entirety of the weekend and provided some of the best track prep we’ve seen. In fact, the track was prepped so well that at least one E.T. record was broken, along with several drivers turning in new personal bests.
Pro Mod Runner-Up: Brett Deutsch
At somewhere around 2,000 hp, Brett Deutsch’s Duramax-powered ’69 Chevy C10 is one wild ride. On his first qualifying pass in Pro Mod, the truck dead hooked and showed everyone its oil pan. And though the landing inflicted a respectable amount of damage, it didn’t keep Brett and his team from continuing. The next time he pulled into the staging lanes his truck was missing the front clip, but it went 5.11 at 140 mph (having to pedal it at mid-track). The 4.91 at 146 mph he ran after that landed him in the finals.
Pro Mod Winner: Larson Miller
It was the first time we’d had a chance to see the Firepunk Diesel Pro Mod S10 since being fitted with the new Hot Shot’s Secret wrap and D&J Precision Machine all-aluminum “Executioner” series Cummins (the engine that made 3,214 hp on the dyno over the winter). After making incremental chassis adjustments throughout the day, team Firepunk and driver Larson Miller were able to put together a best pass of 4.30 at 172 mph before outrunning the aforementioned Brett Deutsch in the finals.
Cecil the Dooley
Who doesn’t like seeing an 8,000-pound dually go rounds at the drag strip? Let’s just say when Brandon Hurlock signed up with an 8.20 dial-in, he meant it. His crew cab Dodge Ram 3500 was right on the money the majority of the day. With six Terra Grappler G2’s hugging the ground, traction was never an issue for this clean-burning, 650rwhp behemoth.
Low 4’s from the Scheid Dragster
It’s not a diesel event if the Scheid Diesel dragster doesn’t make an appearance. The record-setting, Spitzer chassis rail was treated to taller gearing over the winter, which has changed the way the team applies the rail’s 3,000hp to the track. Still, with veteran driver Jared Jones behind the wheel the dragster looked strong, turning in 4.24, 4.18, and 4.20-second efforts, all in the 173 to 177mph range.
5.90 Index Winner: Buddy Callaway
The only way to accurately describe Buddy Callaway’s short bed GMC Sierra would be to call it incredible. In a host of ways, he’s breaking all the rules. Buddy campaigns a stock LB7 Duramax engine, the factory IHI turbocharger, a 4L80E and runs 5.90s like clockwork. His simple, lightweight setup, combined with violent, boosted four-wheel drive launches, makes for 1.3-second 60-foots and an awesome display of power every time he blasts down the ‘660.
A 6.0L Power Stroke in the 5’s
After driving 30 straight hours from Arizona to Wagler Motorsports Park, Charlie Fish and the rest of the KC Turbos team were ready to make a statement with their 6.0L Power Stroke. They were penciled in for 5.90, an elapsed time no 6.0L powered vehicle had ever been able to run. Luckily for us, two 6.0L Fords would pull off the feat for our cameras—and multiple times at that. Right off the trailer, Charlie’s 5,200-pound short bed Super Duty went 6.20. Then the countdown was on: a 6.09 pass was followed by a 5.97, and a 5.85 after that.
Another 6.0L Power Stroke in the 5’s!
To reiterate, prior to the “COVID ‘660” being held at Wagler Motorsports Park, no 6.0L Power Stroke had been 5’s in the eighth-mile. Now, two have, and here’s the second. The truck is driven by Austin Denny and it went 5.76 at 120 mph to set a new record, but also went 5.77 at a faster 122 mph. Austin’s gutted (but still 5,250-pound) Super Duty has been four-linked front and rear, sports a built 6.0L that’s fed by a compound turbo arrangement and nitrous and is still backed up by a 5R110 TorqShift transmission.
6.70 Index Winner & Longest Distance Traveled: Rick Fletes
With drag racing shut down nationwide, California resident Rick Fletes was desperate to get his Duramax-swapped ’70 Chevelle back in the staging lanes. After mounting the slicks to the tire carrier out back and packing a couple suitcases, Rick and his wife pointed the Chevelle east and showed up at Wagler Motorsports Park several days later. As icing on the cake, Rick made the trip worth it by pulling out the win in the 6.70 Index class. Exactly how many people can say they’ve driven their 10-second car across the country (Rick has even gone 9.89 in it), raced, won and then drove it back home problem-free?
Pro Street Winner: Josh Scruggs
If this truck looks familiar it should. It’s the ’06 Dodge Ram that Firepunk Diesel’s Lavon Miller used to pilot—the one that spent much of its time shattering Pro Street records. Now owned by Josh Scruggs and once again back in the Firepunk stable (Josh works for Firepunk now), it took home the Pro Street win at Wagler’s. With one of the most proven trucks in all of diesel drag racing, look for Josh and company to continue their winning ways in the future.
7.70 Index Winner: Ryan Riddle
The well-prepped track took all the guess work out of the equation for Ryan Riddle. This lights-out drag racer is as consistent as it comes, so it was no surprise when he won the 7.70 Index category while also going rounds in ET Bracket. Ryan runs right on the dial so often it almost seems as if an autopilot switch exists somewhere in the cab.
ET Bracket Winner: Justyne Hamm
One look at what Justyne Hamm was able to do behind the wheel of Larson Miller’s Mega Cab Dodge and you start to realize how serious everyone at Firepunk Diesel takes drag racing. They make it a point to compete in virtually every class and Justyne is yet another weapon in their arsenal of talented drivers.
The Reason It Was Possible
No spectators means no gate fee, which means no revenue for the host facility. It can’t be stressed enough how important event sponsors were in making this race happen. Industry heavyweights like Amsoil, Stainless Diesel, KC Turbos, Goerend Transmission, BD Diesel Performance, S&S Diesel Motorsport, BDS Suspension, Hot Shot’s Secret, AirDog and Luxe Offroad were vital in making this race a reality, along with Nitto Tire USA, the title sponsor.
First time you’ve heard of ODSS? Click here to learn more about this thriving diesel drag racing organization.