Truck Pulling: As American as Apple Pie

Without a doubt, this is the busy season for the sled pulling sport, and the Cass County Truck and Tractor Pull is one of the hottest go-to events in central Illinois.

Held in Virginia, Illinois, this pull represents the first time local competitors are able to hook to the sled since the previous fall. It’s also where the improvements that these gearheads have been working on all winter are finally put to the test. For the sixth annual event, roughly 30 diesel trucks would take to the dirt. Surprisingly, most of them Duramax-powered Chevys and GMCs.

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Competitors were spread out across four different classes, with novice pullers and those with near-stock trucks signing up for the entry-level Factory Turbo Diesel class. Then, purpose-built trucks would compete in the 8,500-pound Work Stock and 8,000-Pound 2.5 classes. Last, but not least, everything from hot street trucks to fully-built, open-driveline rigs would find themselves competing in the 8,000-pound Open category.

Campaigning one of the stronger trucks in the Factory Turbo diesel class was Kevin Dermody’s Duramax-powered ’05 GMC Sierra 2500 HD. He would turn down his first hook of 304 feet (in truck pulling, the first competitor in each class has the option to turn down their initial pass if they’re not satisfied with it, and then pull after the rest of the field runs). However, a win wasn’t meant to be. Kevin would go 298 feet on his second attempt. Still, it was good enough for second place out of nine trucks.

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Another strong runner in the Factory Turbo class was Scott Garlisch and his Duramax-equipped Chevy Silverado 2500 HD. The top running trucks in this class are in the neighborhood of sending 550 to 600 horsepower to the wheels.

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Don’t worry, it wasn’t a complete Duramax and Cummins fest, as several Blue Ovals turned in strong efforts in the Factory Turbo class. Here, Nick Power’s ’11 F-250 is midway through a 266-foot hook.

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After winning the Factory Turbo class, Bo Dawson entered his Duramax in the 8,500-pound Work Stock class and still placed well. Despite being underpowered (due to the factory turbo rule in the previous class he competed in), his Chevy still lugged the sled 278 feet — good enough for sixth place.

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Perhaps the most competitive class of the day would be the 8,500-pound Work Stock category. In this class, front hanging weights are prohibited (making front end traction interesting for some competitors). But, ballasted weight in the bed is permitted. The other key rule limits engines to a stock-appearing or a T4 S300 based turbocharger with a 66 mm compressor wheel inducer limit.

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Eric Loy is one competitor that takes full advantage of the turbo rule in the Work Stock class. His ’05 Dodge Ram 3500 sports a T4 S300 based charger from High Tech Turbo, an Exergy Performance 12 mm CP3 injection pump, 180 hp injectors from Industrial Injection, and custom Smarty UDC tuning from Firepunk Diesel. This truck is likely in the 750 horsepower range.

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With one of the smoother pulls we witnessed in the Work Stock category (front end bounce was common for a lot of the other trucks), Will Clark pulled off a 282-foot, fifth place finish in his standard cab Chevy.

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Pulling his good friend, Chance Meyer’s LB7 Duramax in Work Stock, Chris Hieronymus yanked the sled a respectable 293 feet (third place). Oh, what we’d give to be handed the keys of a 700 hp Duramax and told to go hook it to a sled!

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For trucks that competed in the 2.5 (where the compressor wheel inducer limit on the turbo is 2.5-inches/63.5mm) or Open classes, front hanging weights were allowed. Here, Ryan Sieh adds six 100-pound tractor weights to the front of Andrew Karker’s ’04 GMC Sierra 2500 HD in preparation for his next pull.

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Without a doubt, Owen Maul got his fill of pulling in for the day. He would hook his healthy LBZ Duramax to the sled in Work Stock, 2.5, and the Open class before the day was through. While an unfortunate, broken hitch scenario disqualified his pass in Work Stock, he bounced back for a 308-foot exhibition run in 2.5 and a third place finish in Open.

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Putting nine feet between himself and second place in the 2.5 class was Lee Stiltz’s ’05 Chevy Silverado 2500 HD. This fire-breather, which is most likely in the 800 to 900 horsepower realm, stormed down the track to the tune of 314 eventual feet.

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Taking top honors in the Open class was Jeff Krause of Mason City, Illinois. His compound turbo’d Duramax sports a variable geometry turbo as the valley charger, utilizes massive 500 percent over injectors, and sends more than 1,000 hp to the wheels.

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Once a 3.0 Class truck (3.0 meaning 3-inch/76 mm inducer turbo limit, open driveline, and basically 1,500+ horsepower), we’re not sure what class Cole Faber’s Chevy Silverado fits into currently. But, that’s what made it the perfect fit for the 8,000-pound, anything goes Open class. And while it used to be Duramax-powered, the Nitto Mud Grappler-equipped Bow Tie now sports what is rumored to be a Haisley Machine-built Cummins under the hood.

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