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Diesel Truck Burnout Contest!

How To Ruin Perfectly Good Tires For Fame And Fortune

David Kennedy
Aug 1, 2007
Photographers: David Kennedy
Photo 2/2   |   diesel Truck Burnout dodge Cummins
Which came first: the burnout or the auto race? They say the first car race was held the day that man built the second car. Unfortunately, history never recorded when the first burnout was done, but you can be sure the driver of the world's first car had to show off for his buddies while he waited for that second car to be built.
The Perfect Burnout
The key to the burnout is having more power than traction. Sorry, gravity, you and your pal friction don't stand a chance at keeping our turbodiesels' tires hooked to the ground. Pickup trucks are burnout naturals from the start because they have big engines up front and very little weight over the rear axle. Add in 500 lb-ft of torque, a little water, a crowd of screaming fans, and it's bye-bye rear tires.
While we hate to encourage you to waste money destroying a perfectly good set of radials, we can't deny that crowds love to watch you spin your tires. That fact was never more clear than when we were at the TS Performance Outlaw Race (check out next month's issue for the full event coverage) where Competition Diesel put on an impromptu burnout contest and Dynomite Diesel stepped in to offer $1,000 worth of injectors for First Place. Our apologies go out to every tire manufacturer.
Surprisingly, everyone's tires survived the ordeal. There were some overheated engines, one truck spewed some oil, and a Duramax truck had a small fire, but it was all in good fun. Should you feel the need to assassinate your own truck's tires to entertain a crowd-or just you and your buddy-we've assembled a list of tips for you first-time tire burners.
Rules of the Burnout
1. Be careful. Doing a burnout can be dangerous. You're putting your truck under tremendous loads that can cause a tire blowout, drivetrain failure, or a piece of your driveshaft to grenade and damage your truck or kill innocent people within 100 feet. Don't take any chances with your safety or the safety of people around you.
2. Don't get arrested. Spinning your tires on public streets is illegal almost everywhere, so save the shenanigans for private property.
3. Traction is your enemy, so narrow tires that are inflated to the proper air pressure are better for burnouts than drag slicks.
4. Make things easier on the truck and roll the rear tires through some water.
5. With the transmission in First gear, use your left foot to apply the brakes and your right foot to work the throttle. Push on the brake pedal hard enough to keep the truck from creeping forward as you bring the engine's speed up.
6. If the rear tires don't begin to spin right away, you may need to adjust how much force you're using on the brake pedal. In some cases, you'll need more force, and sometimes, you'll need less. Each vehicle is different.
7. When the rear tires begin spinning, reduce the force on the brake pedal enough that the truck stays in place, but not so much that you're not limiting the rear tire speed.
8. Don't let the truck upshift into Second gear to limit the tire speed.
9. Watch the engine coolant and transmission temperature. Both of them will skyrocket during a burnout of more than a few seconds. The rear brakes will also overheat, so do your truck a favor and keep the burnout short.
10. Burning rubber is just that-burnt rubber. You'll put thousands of miles of wear on your tires in no time, so it's important to make sure your tires are still safe to drive on.
11. We'll say it again. Be careful!
Five Things To Avoid When Doing A Burnout
1. Don't let people stand near your truck. Rocks can fling out of your tires, the driveshaft can break, and the tires can blow out. Basically, your truck can turn ordinary car parts into shrapnel that will injure people. You don't want to hurt anybody.
2. Remove extra weight from the bed, and don't fill up the back seat with a bunch of people. Remember, traction is your enemy, and extra weight means more traction.
3. Leave the windows down to prevent the truck's cab from filling up with tire smoke.
4. Turn your radio off. You need to hear what your truck is doing at all times.
5. No leaks. Any oil, ATF, or fuel that drips from your truck could turn your vehicle into an instant fire.
Frying Tires
Burnouts destroy tires. The more white smoke you make, the fewer miles you'll have left on your tires when the burnout's over. Water (and even bleach) can make the smoke bigger, but don't kid yourself, the smoke comes with a price tag. Burnouts are best done when you don't care about your tires. Worn-out mud tires are perfect candidates for smoke shows because they have less rubber to contact the pavement and they tend to hold water between the lugs to act as a lubricant. Naturally wide tires will be harder to spin than narrow tires, hard tires will spin easier than soft tires, and a little tire dressing in the treads can go a long way to getting your wheels spinning easier.
Did You Know...
- When you spin your tires, they heat up. When tires heat up, the air pressure inside goes up, and eventually, you can have a blowout because the tire can't handle the excessive pressure.
- When both rear tires spin, the rearend of your truck will tend to slide to the side if the road, track, or burnout surface is crowned. That's because when you lose traction in one direction, you lose traction in all directions.
- Driveshaft U-joints take a beating during a burnout and can fail as the tires gain traction.
- With Line-Locs or Roll Control, solenoids allow you to apply only your truck's front brakes to prevent it from driving forward during a burnout without the need for using up your rear brakes.
- Your engine, transmission, and torque-converter temperatures go through the roof during a long burnout. Most fires that occur during a burnout are actually caused by automatic transmissions overheating, leaking, and spraying hot ATF on the engine.
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