Rich With History: The Scheid Diesel Extravaganza
As we begin to prep for this year’s Scheid Diesel Extravaganza, we can’t help but look back on the event’s storied history. From the days when trucks literally drove in off the street and hooked to the sled to the time Seth Sullivan’s Pro Street Dodge ran out of shutdown area at the dragstrip, this event has one of the richest pasts in all of diesel motorsports.
With 2017 marking the 21st running of the Extravaganza, it’s come a long, long way since 1997, along with the rest of the diesel industry. Over the past two decades, the diesel world has exploded with performance potential, technology, innovation and popularity, which helps explain why some 15,000 spectators make their way to Terre Haute, Indiana, year after year.
Yours truly has been an annual attendee since ’06, and I don’t think I’ll ever miss it. Those that know me well know the last weekend of August is permanently booked in my calendar. The Driving Line team hopes to see you there the weekend of August 25-27. Until then, feel free to join me as I take a quick stroll down memory lane.
Worth the Wait
This is what it looks like when the gates open — truck after truck lined up waiting to get into Terre Haute, Indiana’s Wabash Valley Fairgrounds to watch one of the greatest shows on Earth. It’s typical for the southbound lanes of US Highway 41 (the highway that runs past the fairgrounds) to be backed up as far as the eye can see each morning of the three-day show.
Originally a Turbo Diesel Registry (TDR) Rally held in Effingham, Illinois, in 1997, the first three affairs were solely reserved for Cummins owners. But after the turnout quickly outgrew the Effingham location, the event was moved to the Wabash Valley Fairgrounds in 2000, where it was also opened up to all makes of diesel pickups.
Huge Spectator Turnout
You’re guaranteed to see a packed grandstand each night, as the truck pulls bring in the majority of the weekend’s crowd. Just as diesel performance has evolved over the years, so too has the hosting venue. To accommodate an ever-expanding spectator presence, massive sets of bleachers are hauled into the infield side of the pulling track specifically for the event. Throughout the weekend, somewhere between 13,000 and 15,000+ fans peruse the fairgrounds. The highest spectator turnout we can remember was in 2012, when a number of 15,500 was quoted.
Limited Pro Stock Qualifying
As has been the case for years, the entry level pulling class (Limited Pro Stock at present, and formerly 2.6) undergoes a qualifying process on both Friday and Saturday mornings. Qualifying begins at 11 a.m., typically with the top 13 finishers from each lane (there are two lanes and two sleds) making it into the nighttime show that evening.
A Sea of Trucks
According to our records, 2009 seems to have been the peak in terms of overall truck pull entry numbers. That year, more than 100 of the strongest running trucks in the nation signed up to compete in the 2.6 class alone. By comparison, 89 trucks hooked in 2008, which seemed crazy at the time. Well over 50 trucks ran the 2.8 class in 2009 as well (the next class up, turbo size and horsepower-wise). There have also been years where more than 30 Pro Stock trucks showed up to compete.
The Good ‘Ol Days
Back in the day, even before yours truly was attending the Extravaganza on an annual basis, this is the truck people drove hundreds of miles to see. Owned by Dave and Loretta Mitchell of Enterprise Engine Performance, this ’97 Dodge Ram did more to bring diesel truck pulling to the masses than anyone else in the late ‘90s and early 2000s.
Horsepower Has Doubled
Over the course of the last 10 years, the no-frills Super Stock class has gone from 1,500 hp to 3,000 hp being the norm! And whereas the majority of trucks used to run compound turbo configurations, most of today’s crop of Super Stocks run triple-turbo arrangements.
Eighth-Mile Drag Racing
In addition to the best-of-the-best battling it out in the dirt, side-by-side drag racing action takes place just a few hundred yards from the pulling track. Located at the north side of the fairgrounds, Crossroads Dragway plays host to the eighth-mile drag racing that takes place each year. Here, Chris Calkins’ ’71 Chevy C10 is shown warming up its tires (circa 2008). The Duramax-powered “Orange Crush” could click off 6.30’s at 115 mph in the eighth-mile, which was pretty impressive back in ’08.
Scheid Diesel Rail
One of the bigger draws at the drag strip is the Scheid Diesel dragster, a 300-inch Spitzer chassis rail capable of running 6.30’s in the quarter-mile at 220+ mph. Packing a billet-aluminum block, a healthy compound turbocharger arrangement and more than 2,000 hp, Scheid’s dragster typically cuts low-to-mid 4’s at the Extravaganza, somewhere in the 170 mph range.
Back when putting your truck on the dyno was becoming the thing to do, this dyno was the truth teller. For a good many years, this mobile 248C model Dynojet (owned by David Dunbar at the time) was the yardstick chassis dyno for the diesel industry. Although it was an inertia-only dyno, Dunbar had a knack for getting as much power as possible out of the trucks that climbed aboard his rollers.
Believe it or not, bolting a supercharger in front of the turbo all but became a trend back in the ’08-’10 timeframe, and many of these creations could be found in the Extravaganza’s Show ‘n Shine area. Instant boost, improved low-rpm torque and reduced exhaust gas temperatures were some of the upsides. Empire Performance Engineering pioneered this particular idea, primarily for V8-equipped trucks such as Duramax and Power Strokes. In this application, the F1-C centrifugal ProCharger contributed 12 psi of the truck’s 50 psi overall boost production, as well as a signature, hard-to-miss whine.
A lot of talk at the 2010 show revolved around this wild creation: an ’08 Chevy Silverado 2500 HD with two Garrett GT4202 turbochargers feeding a 9.8L Lysholm screw-type supercharger. Owned by Rod Tschiggfrie and known as the “BlowerMax,” the forced induction combo forced 80 psi of boost into a 7.1L stroker Duramax. Whether it was the engine’s bling, design or horsepower figure rumors, the BlowerMax had the entire fairground buzzing.
Thrashing in the Pits
Midnight engine swaps in the pits? You bet! At the highest ranks of truck pulling (i.e., the Super Stock class), competitors will do whatever it takes to keep their rig in the points. A forklift, chains, ratchet straps and several light sources were employed during the transfer of this billet-steel Cummins.
In recent years, and thanks to the sled pull being sanctioned by the Lucas Oil Pro Pulling League, a Hot-Rod Semi class has been added to the festivities. Take it from us, if you’ve never seen one of these frame-twisting, 20,000-pound Class 8 rigs storm down the track, you haven’t lived!