The World’s 5 Fastest Diesels: Cummins Edition
It’s no secret that most of the diesel performance industry revolves around the Cummins. Thanks to its relative simplicity, long-term durability, endless torque curve and especially its horsepower potential, the Columbus, Indiana-born inline-six is the preferred power plant in diesel drag racing. Despite its weight disadvantage when compared to V8 offerings (namely the aluminum headed Duramax), more competitors are apt to run the Cummins for its uncanny ability to produce and survive big horsepower. With diesel motorsports saturated with either 5.9L or 6.7L versions of this iconic I6, it makes sense why it’s laid claim to the fastest quarter-miles ever recorded. Case in point, all of the Cummins-powered vehicles on this list have been in the sixes and surpassed the 200 mph mark.
Below, you’ll find the Scheid Diesel rail—the record-holding, fastest diesel drag racer on the planet—at the top of the list. In hot pursuit of Scheid, you’ll find the six-second, 220-mph Power Service rail, the late ’48 Fiat-bodied altered formerly campaigned by Power Service and the Firepunk Diesel-built Save the Racks Pro Mod S10. We’ll conclude things with a lightning-quick surprise. It’s not a Cummins, but rather a wild six cylinder from yesteryear that will have most of you scratching your heads. From mechanical injection to common-rail, old-school to new-age, the following vehicles own the track in diesel drag racing.
1. Scheid Diesel Dragster: 6.31 at 226 MPH
Many Cummins-powered rails have come and gone over the years, but Scheid Diesel has been the quickest and fastest name in diesel drag racing for more than a decade. The folks at Scheid have a penchant for setting goals and then achieving them—all the while pushing the entire diesel industry forward in the process. With this Spitzer-chassis’d machine, the company set out to be the first diesel in the sixes, as well as the first to 200 mph. After accomplishing both of these feats in relatively short order, the Scheid team set its sights on running (competitively) in the NHRA Top Dragster bracket class and made that dream a reality as well. In addition to owning the quickest and fastest quarter-mile record thanks to driver Jared Jones’ 6.31-second pass at 226 mph, Scheid’s mechanical monstrosity has also gone 4.12 at a smoldering 182 mph in the eighth.
Aluminum-Block, Compound Turbos and a Big P-pump
Utilizing much of the same technology you’d find in one of Scheid’s 3,000-plus hp Super Stock truck pulling engines, the Cummins in the dragster starts with a weight-saving aluminum block, uses a 6.7L crank and displaces 390 cubic inches. A worked over 12-valve cylinder head attaches to the block via 14mm studs, a 14mm Scheid P8600 supplies triple-feed injectors and a compound turbo arrangement that consists of an 88mm Precision over a 114mm Holset provides boost. How much? About 60 psi on the launch and 140 psi by mid-track! With that kind of fuel and airflow, it’s no wonder the Scheid mill makes north of 2,500hp and more than 3,000 lb-ft of torque.
2. Power Service Dragster: 6.43 & 220 MPH
After starting his drag racing career in a rail, transferring over to a funny car and then piloting an altered (more on that in number three), John Robinson is back in a rail at the present time—and it’s downright serious. With a goal of beating Scheid’s 6.31-second E.T. record, Robinson and the Power Service crew came close in 2018, running a 6.43 at 217 mph early in the season, followed by a 6.44 at 220 mph later in the summer. Like Scheid Diesel, Robinson and the Power Service rail compete in the NHRA’s Top Dragster field and Robinson had several high marks in 2018, including the number 10 qualifier spot (out of 28) at the Dodge Mile-High NHRA Nationals back in July.
Scheid Power Plant
The Power Service digger benefits from an aluminum block Cummins from Scheid. It too displaces 390 ci, makes use of a 12:1 compression ratio, sports a heavily-ported 12-valve head and a relies on a 14mm P-pump for fueling. The compound turbo setup up top is similar, too, with a 4.5-inch HX82-based Holset feeding an 88mm Precision charger. Peak boost checks in at more than 140 psi and Robinson leaves the line somewhere between 60 and 70 psi, depending on what he thinks the track can hold. Although some 2,500+ hp is at his disposal, like Scheid, it’s the 3,200 lb-ft of torque that can cause traction issues. Luckily, Robinson is close to finding the perfect balance in applying his digger’s power. Look for him to challenge both the E.T. and trap speed records in 2019.
3. Power Service Altered: 6.72 at 212 MPH
Based on a McKinney nitro funny car chassis and after having been graced with a funny car body for years, John Robinson made the switch to a ’48 Fiat Topolino body in order to compete in the NHRA’s Top Dragster class. Running nearly as quick as the dragster he would later move up to, the Power Service altered often cut 1.08-second 60-foots on its way to low seven and high-six-second passes. The compound turbo’d, Scheid-built Cummins that propelled the car was backed up by a Lenco CS1 three-speed with a four-disc Crower clutch and a Strange top loader axle out back.
More Scheid Power
In case you weren’t keeping track, the top three time slips collected by Cummins-powered dragsters have all been running a Scheid-built Cummins. Yet again, the build sheet here reads like that of a Super Stock puller: billet-aluminum block, 6.7L crank, billet-steel rods, 12:1 Arias forged-aluminum pistons, Scheid roller cam, lifters and rockers, a 12-valve head from Hamilton Cams and a dry sump oil system. Everything is designed to handle an obscene amount of boost and cylinder pressure, which the compound turbo arrangement (an 88mm Precision over a 114mm HX82), 14mm P-pump and triple-feed, 5x30 injectors help produce. A 10-nozzle water-injection system operating at 1,100 psi is used to keep intake temps and EGT in check rather than an intercooler.
4. Firepunk Diesel/Edgar Artecona S10: 6.94 at 202 MPH
Built for customers Edgar Artecona and Amalee Mueller, the Firepunk Diesel crew from Plain City, Ohio knocked it out of the park with this S10. Put together during the winter of ’17-’18 to compete in the Pro Mod class, it was a championship-caliber contender right out of the gate. Fresh off the trailer, driver Larson Miller ran a 4.84 at 146 mph in the eighth, then proceeded to set eighth-mile records all summer long in the ’02 Chevy. Then, team Firepunk hit the quarter-mile for the first time in September, where the truck went 6.94 at 202 mph to become the quickest and fastest diesel door car in the world.
Unlike the top three Cummins, this one features common-rail injection—and it certainly illustrates that the modern, high-pressure, electronically-controlled Bosch-based system can compete with all the P-pump tractor technology. The common-rail system on the S10 entails a pair of stroker CP3s and massive injectors from Exergy Performance, along with a stand-alone Bosch Motorsport ECU (also from Exergy). Airflow is provided courtesy of a single Garrett turbo, which in conjunction with nitrous builds 80 psi of boost. A D&J Precision Machine Enforcer series Cummins, making use of a deck plated 6.7L block, has no problem handling the abuse. In fact, the Firepunk crew put 69 trouble-free passes on the engine in 2018, most of which were made at full power (roughly 2,200 to 2,400hp at the crank).
NOT a Cummins—But Too Cool Not to Share!
Greased Lightning Dragster: 7.21 at 187 MPH
Believe it or not, John Carey’s Detroit Diesel-powered dragster ran deep sevens back in the 1980s—way before diesel drag racing was even a thing. To be fair, at the time Carey was also campaigning two Top Fuel dragsters, funded through his diesel repair business (Carey’s Diesel), so he definitely knew what he was doing. Diesel propulsion proved to be sort of an experiment that worked and the car became an exhibition vehicle at NHRA events. Rumor has it that the car even once cut a 0.98-second 60-foot time, which has yet to be equaled in diesel drag racing. After shelving the car (literally, it’s on a shelf in a warehouse) to pursue traditional Top Fuel endeavors, the car faded from memory and most modern day diesel enthusiasts have no clue it even existed.
Carey’s power plant of choice was a 270 ci version of a 6V53 Detroit, and the Jimmy wedged into the dragster’s chassis was a real screamer. In fact, the de-stroked two-stroke spun 5,000 rpm when heading down track, roughly double its factory red line. On the dyno, the twin-turbo and nitrous-fed V6 is said to have belted out 1,800hp, which (to us) means the small-cube Detroit was likely running on the ragged edge—even on the verge of running away—each time it stormed the quarter-mile. The 4.4L was backed by a B&J transmission and Carey launched the rail in second gear.