Break-Neck Speed: Drag Racing at the 2019 Scheid Diesel Extravaganza
The Scheid Diesel Extravaganza might be a truck pulling event at its core, but there’s a reason it serves as the fifth stop along the popular ODSS diesel drag racing circuit. Within the confines of the Wabash Valley Fairgrounds, just a few hundred feet away from the dirt oval track that hosts the championship-caliber truck and tractor pulling action, sits Crossroads Dragway. Not only is the eighth-mile drag strip’s close proximity to the rest of the Extravaganza’s activities convenient, but it’s a two-time former NHRA Track of the Year recipient. Making this good little ‘strip even better is the team from Total Venue Concepts, the professional track management outfit that preps the racing surface at all ODSS events.
For 2019, more than 100 of the nation’s best diesel drag racers showed up in Terre Haute, Indiana, ready to compete. Over the weekend of August 23-24, racers, spectators and media personnel were privy to seeing 5-second, full-size trucks rip through the ‘660, 4-second heads-up blasts from the Pro Dragster and Pro Mod classes, three dozen bracket racers living just above their dial-ins and even a pink burnout (more on that later). When the smoke cleared and the dust settled, Firepunk Diesel’s Larson Miller took home a $3,000 payday for the win in Pro Mod, while Stainless Diesel's Johnny Gilbert collected a cool $2K for his work in Pro Street.
Below, you’ll find a recap from one of the most exciting weekends in diesel drag racing as well as a complimentary photo archive.
The Winning Course Continues
It was business as usual for Larson Miller and the Firepunk Diesel/Save the Racks S10, and trust us, these two work well together. While no new records were set by the team’s game-changing Pro Mod, it did put up consistent 4.40’s at 163 mph throughout the weekend. Miller’s final, class-winning pass consumed just 4.43 seconds and he also closed much of the gap that exists between himself and current Pro Mod points leader, Rawlings Barnes.
After winning back-to-back Pro Street championships, a driver change (from Dustin Jackson to his wife, Mindy Jackson) and a class change, the “Old Hustle, New Flow” Cummins-powered F-150 is now dominating the 5.90 Index category. At the Extravaganza, Mindy fought break-out issues (i.e. going too fast) during qualifying, but pulled everything together for eliminations, eventually defeating the always-tough Brett Marcum in the final (running a spot-on 5.90 to Brett’s 5.84).
Added Stopping Power Required in Pro Classes
Due to the short shut down area at Crossroads Dragway, basically any vehicle that trapped 135 mph or faster deployed its parachute in order to slow down quick enough. Another neat tidbit is that the shutdown area is extended down West Jones Drive, an actual street in Terre Haute that butts up to the track’s shutdown lanes, when the heavy hitters are called to the line. Above, Johnny Gilbert deploys the ‘chutes on the Stainless Diesel Pro Street Dodge after a 5.35-second pass at 140 mph.
Chassis-Twisting Pro Mod
The pride and joy of Warren County Diesel is their Pro Mod Dodge Dakota, driven by Steve Royalty and which they call Climate Change. Its power plant is a Scheid-sourced billet-aluminum block Cummins with a worked-over 12-valve cylinder head and a big honkin’ P-pump hanging off the billet timing cover. With what essentially amounts to a Super Stock-caliber truck pulling engine under the hood, it’s no wonder the 2,500hp Dakota pulls the front driver side tire off the ground.
2 in the Bed, 1 in the Cab
The wild turbo setup in the Climate Change Dakota gets a lot of looks. It makes use of three massive snails, the atmosphere chargers being mounted in the bed and the high-pressure unit being located here in the cab. The three chargers combine to produce as much as 150 psi of boost.
Though the dragster field was small this year, the two fastest rails in diesel drag racing were present. The epic showdown pitted Scheid Diesel’s own record-holding dragster driven by Jared Jones against the Power Service rail piloted by John Robinson (we saw John go 4.38 at 172 mph during qualifying). Unfortunately for Robinson, a transmission gremlin kept him from stealing Scheid and Jones’s thunder, and the crowd from witnessing a thrilling low-4-second, side-by-side finale.
Pro Street’s Emerging Contender
After watching his ’12 Ram go 5.51 at 131 mph during qualifying, it was more of the same from Michael Dalton’s Pro Street truck—it looks better every time we see it. On this occasion, Michael made it to the final round against Johnny Gilbert’s unstoppable second-gen. Sadly, a freak fluid leak while staging cost him his chance to get the win, but the truck’s emerging potential should have it on par with the best in the business in Pro Street in the near future.
The Pink Panther
This neat little creation stemmed from the Stainless Diesel stable in an effort to spread cancer awareness. Called the Pink Panther, the VP44-fueled S10 was built to compete in the 6.70 Index class, but has been as quick as 6.36 in the eighth-mile. Despite driver Roy Currier Jr. putting up some strong passes at the Scheid event, the little Chevy is best remembered for the eighth-mile-long, pink smoke burnout it performed on Friday evening. The secret sauce for the pink smoke was supplied by Highway Max, which produces colored smoking tires.
ET Bracket: Diesel Drag Racing’s Busiest Class
With 36 trucks signed up on Friday morning, there was certainly no shortage of competition in the ET Bracket field. Last year’s ET Bracket class points champion, the ever-consistent Ken Phillips, made the call in Terre Haute but ended up going out early on in eliminations. However, despite losing a little ground in the points chase at the Extravaganza, he still has a few tricks up his sleeve for closing the gap in the final two events of the season.
Natural Born Racer
Of particular interest at the Extravaganza were the 7.70 Index, 5.90 and Pro Mod fields, where tight points races were unfolding. Thanks to yet another display of his drag race mastery in 7.70 Index, Ryan Riddle took home the win (his second 7.70 victory in 2019), beating out 24 other competitors and overtaking Nick Morris for the season points lead in the process. Known to double-class (and do a fine job of it, too), Ryan would also go all the way to the semifinals in the ET Bracket class.
After repairing some A-arm breakage in the pits with the help of several different race team members, Susan Soga qualified number 1 with a 6.72 in the 6.70 Index class. Then her Cummins-powered ’34 Chevy carried here all the way to the quarter finals. Her 6.65-second breakout came against the eventual runner-up in the class, Caleb Brown. Heading into the final two races of the year, she sits fifth in points, which is still well within striking distance.
Enjoy Some Photos from the Event
Truck pulling more your thing? Check out our coverage of the top-notch action that took place at this year’s Extravaganza here!
Select photography provided by Amy Gilbert of Stainless Diesel