Cummins Pride Runs Deep
Cummins. It’s the engine the diesel performance world revolves around. It revolutionized the ¾-ton truck market back in ’89 with its robust, inline-six design, its use of direct injection and (believe it or not) its utilization of a turbocharger. Out on the job and the farm, it proved itself capable of million-mile durability while effortlessly outperforming the GM and Ford competition despite its cubic inch disadvantage.
When the aftermarket got involved, the Cummins’ indestructible nature remained—even after its factory horsepower and torque ratings were tripled, sometimes quadrupled. At the highest ranks of diesel motorsports, it was even discovered that the 5.9L B series’ OEM forged-steel connecting rods could safely handle 1,200hp, so long as the rod bolts were upgraded.
By the mid 2000s it was well established that whether you were using a 5.9L Cummins for work, play or all of the above it would never let you down. As a result, the Cummins enjoys a cult-like following in the pickup segment. For Cummins enthusiasts, there is no other diesel option. They already own the best, and there is an immense sense of pride in owning one.
At the present time—and more so now than ever before—Cummins is dominating nearly every aspect of diesel motorsports. The nation’s top truck pullers are all running a variant of the Cummins. Nine out of every 10 of the country’ fastest drag racers are sporting Cummins power. The most powerful trucks on the chassis dyno almost always have a Cummins between the frame rails. Need more proof? The top eight finishers at this year’s Ultimate Callout Challenge were all Cummins-powered…
Read on for further insight as to why the Cummins is the most celebrated diesel engine in the truck world.
Everything Else Is a Weak Link
There is a lot of truth to this statement, stickered to the back of Mark Burress’ ’93 first-gen puller. After all, to survive the power his P-pumped 12-valve was dishing out he had to upgrade from the factory A518 automatic transmission to an NV4500 manual with a dual-disc clutch, along with ditching the rear Dana 70 for a stouter Dana 80. The sheer power potential of the Cummins is the reason behind most drive line rules in truck pulling. Even in the Limited Pro Stock truck class, the lowest horsepower diesel pickup category in major national sanctioning bodies, competitors are allowed to run massive Rockwell axles, one-speed billet “reverser” transmissions and billet “drop box” transfer cases.
215HP Is Just the Beginning
The above photo of Super Stock truck owner Robert Miller’s tailgate speaks to the near-endless power potential hidden inside a B-series Cummins. The “215 HP” reference tells us that the engine in Robert’s radical Dodge Ram started out life as a ’96 or ’97 model year 12-valve 5.9L Cummins, as they were rated at 215 flywheel horsepower from the factory, so long as they were equipped with a manual transmission. This photo was taken in 2009. However, thanks to all the progress that’s been made in head-flow, turbocharger and injection system technology over the last nine years, today this statement would most likely read “The Other 2,500+ Supplied by Scheid Diesel.”
Start Them Early
Cummins fanaticism starts young. And why shouldn’t it? From the time toddlers are brought to their first truck pull, they’re indoctrinated with the winning ways of the Cummins. At the very least, they’re exposed to the fact that most trucks are Cummins powered. The branding takes hold immediately, and as you can see here, sometimes mom and dad even throw Cummins badges on your little red wagon. Mike and Kelly Manuel pieced this big-tire’d, coil spring, tube chassis-reinforced wagon together for their son Kayd, who would later share it with a little brother, Kase.
Big Power Pioneers
Along with Scheid Diesel, Haisley Machine has built a reputation over the years for building some of the most powerful and reliable Cummins engines on the planet. The company’s roots in diesel truck pulling date back to the 1980s—before the first B-series Cummins had even been introduced. Working with the 5.9L from the day it became available, the Haisley camp has poured nearly 30 years worth of R&D into the platform. Today, its competition engines revolve around a factory 6.7L cast-iron block (preferred for its siamesed cylinder bore design) that has been machined for an integrated bed plate, bored to accept ductile iron sleeves and made to accept a one-inch thick deck-plate to keep the cylinder walls from distorting. The folks at Haisley call them Super B’s and they’ve held a commanding presence in truck pulling since being introduced roughly eight years ago.
Cummins: Engine of the Past, Present and Future
Did you know that even if Cummins Inc. quit producing the 6.7L mill today it would still continue to dominate the diesel motorsport landscape indefinitely? Between the cast-iron, OEM core engines already in circulation, all the interchangeable parts scattered throughout the world and the billet blocks and heads being machined in the aftermarket, the Cummins has no problem dominating things for the foreseeable future.
Longevity is another major reason most competitors choose Cummins. This deck-plated, single turbo 6.7L-based Super B Cummins from Haisley Machine would’ve been good for approximately 1,800hp on the engine dyno when it was built back in 2012. It would’ve been equipped with a 13mm P7100, 4.1-inch/104mm (or larger) turbo, a water-to-air intercooler, turned more than 4,500 rpm and easily lasted an entire season at that power level. Nowadays, a similar setup is likely cranking out 2,000hp or better. Haisley Machine’s turnkey Super B engines are so proven at this point, all a competitor really has to do is top off the fuel and perform an oil change every once in a while.
Cummins Pride, Inside
As you can see, Cummins pride surfaces in the cab of a lot of trucks, too. The shift knob that sits atop this ’94 Dodge Ram 2500’s NV4500 lets you know exactly what’s under the hood. In this particular truck’s case, and thanks to a compound turbo’d, highly-fueled 12-valve Cummins existing on the other side of the dash, roughly 700hp makes it to the wheels. By comparison, you’re nowhere near as likely to find a Power Stroke or Duramax shift ball in a ZF-5 or ZF-6-shifted Ford or GM.
Yeah, It’s Got a Cummins
Owning a Cummins, a piece of diesel history, is a major point of pride for Dodge Ram 2500 and 3500 owners—and the same is true for folks who’ve swapped a Cummins mill into something else. In the case of the 4BT Cummins-powered mud rail formerly owned by South Bend Clutch, they made sure spectators knew what was under the hood. In the world of competitive mud racing, where blown, alcohol-injected big blocks rule the day, the guys at South Bend wanted there to be no mistaking what was propelling their ’32 Ford Victoria through the mire. The highly-fueled, compound turbocharged and nitrous-fed 4BT could belt out 1,000hp and was known for keeping pace with the big cubic inch competition.