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1998 Ford Ranger - Killer Four-Cylinder

4BT Cummins-Powered Drag Ranger

Mike McGlothlin
Jul 1, 2009
Photographers: Mike McGlothlin
Photo 2/12   |   1998 Ford Ranger right Front Angle
Any growing sport has an overwhelming amount of firsts. And in diesel motorsports, it seems there's a new record set and a new truck born every minute. Well, it's been a minute.
Meet Wayne Robbins' '98 Ford Ranger, the first back-halved, lightweight, Pro Street truck packing a 4BT Cummins with more power than most of its six-cylinder brethren. How about 700 hp on fuel alone? That's 175 hp per cylinder, and roughly the same as one of its 5.9L relatives making 1,000 hp.
Already in possession of a four-wheel-drive Ranger capable of low 8-second eighth-mile times, Wayne set out to build something very different with this truck. As the owner of Spooled Up Racing, which specializes in beefing up manual transmissions for sled pulling, Wayne was more familiar with the sled pulling aspect of diesel motorsports. So he used this project both as a learning experience and as an opportunity to get involved with some of the biggest names in the diesel aftermarket. "I'm not a drag racer--I build NV4500 sled pull transmissions--but we'll get it figured out," Wayne told us.
Photo 3/12   |   In a rare moment at the Redneck Nationals, when the truck wasn't surrounded by dozens of spectators, we moved in for some photos. Due to the Ranger's electric water pump running on the hot side, Wayne sidelined it from action early that day but has since replaced the pump with a MES Marine unit.
Starting from the ground up, Scheid Diesel provided a custom roller cam, and TFS Performance handled the machining work, in which the main bearing saddles and caps were line-bored so the crankshaft, which was also balanced, could spin as true as possible. In order to make the cylinder walls perfectly round, the engine was bored with a torque plate installed (to simulate the stresses of the cylinder head). Then the head was bolted down with 9/16-inch head studs. Arias 11:1 compression pistons and oversized valves from TFS Performance top off the internals.
With the engine spec'd as close to perfect as possible, Wayne brought fuel into the equation. A Holley 150-gph fuel pump feeds an inline injection pump built by Shiver Diesel to flow as much as 750 cc of fuel. A set of dual-feed JL Machine injectors ensure plenty of fuel makes it into the combustion chamber.
Searching for the perfect fuel-to-air ratio, Wayne decided to try an S200 over S300 twin-turbo setup. With this combo, boost levels stayed in the 70-psi range, and the truck made an incredible 707 hp on TFS Performance's dyno--which was without seeing what the ZEX nitrous system could add.
A manually shifted 47RE from Sun Coast sends power to a Ford 9-inch rearend with a spool and ultimately to 32x14R15 Mickey Thompson ET Drag slicks out back. Although Wayne fought suspension issues when we saw him racing in the Pro Street diesel class in Florida, the truck still managed a 7.50-second pass at 97.2 mph in the eighth-mile.
As far as mixing it up in the Pro Street class goes, well, it's complicated. While the truck is only powered by a four-cylinder, it weighs less than 3,400 pounds, which is 1,100 less than the Pro Street minimum weight requirement. Wayne was allowed to run Pro Street at the Redneck Nationals in February, but he had an obvious weight advantage over heavier, -ton, -ton, and 1-ton trucks. So, as far as Outlaw rules go, now the Ranger will be racing in a new class--Super Street.
Even though the truck is considered a class-busting vehicle, Wayne is still enthusiastic about showcasing it at any venue that will let him compete. In fact, since we last saw the truck, he's added even more fuel and upgraded to an S300 over S400 turbo setup. Wayne told us the little Ranger should be making more than 800 hp on fuel only by the time you read this. And Wayne's also the kind of guy who's not afraid of going for broke. This means adding plenty of nitrous on top of the little Cummins. With that kind of an attitude, we'd say he's in for a heck of a ride--and we can't wait to see it. Wayne is one of many racers actively helping the sport evolve. And we're glad Outlaw rule makers decided it was worth adding yet another class to its diesel drag racing events.


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