Pushing The Limit
An 11-Second, Old-Body-Style Ford
Tow rig turned play toy. It’s a story we’ve heard more times than we can count, and it happened to Circleville, Ohio, resident Brian Boysel. As someone who was always into gas-powered V-8 cars, he never pictured himself drag racing a 1-ton diesel pickup. Yet that’s exactly what happened after purchasing this ’97 F-350 back in 2005. “I raced stock cars and needed something to tow my car back and forth to the track,” Brian told us. But after the first set of injectors went in, “I sold the race car and dumped that money into the truck,” Brian confessed.
With some help from his friends at nearby Unlimited Diesel Performance, Brian progressively built the 7.3L Power Stroke into a 12-second truck little by little. But last spring, he decided to lean on the stock bottom end even harder. The new plan entailed breaking into the 11s in the quarter-mile.
Never having pulled the heads, Brian replaced the factory valvesprings with Comp Cams’ 910 units (which were installed one at a time and shimmed to a seat pressure of 135 pounds). A set of Diesel Innovation’s one-piece, chromoly pushrods also went in, to rule out the weak factory units. Finally, the heads remain anchored to the block via ARP head studs that were threaded in one at a time.
Upping the fuel ante was a set of Unlimited Diesel Performance’s Stage 4 injectors, which flow a maximum of 350 cc and are fitted with 200-percent-over nozzles. A Stealth Industries SRP 1.1 high-pressure oil pump keeps the oil side of the HEUI equation happy. For optimum fuel delivery, an Aeromotive fuel pump sends diesel to the cylinder heads, and a regulated-return system keeps fuel pressure consistent.
To lay the foundation for a higher-flowing turbo, a Stage 2 T4 mounting kit from Turbonetics was bolted to the engine. The T4 system came with a different turbo pedestal, up-pipes, and paved the way for Brian to run an S400-based charger. In particular, he opted to run the latest and greatest turbo on the market for modified 7.3L owners: the 68mm version of BorgWarner’s S400SX3. Known to outflow its larger, 71mm counterpart, the 68mm turbo also features the proven 83mm turbine wheel in a 1.10 A/R non-wastegated housing. After scoring an aluminum intercooler off a ’99 Super Duty for $125, Brian had Ben Burnworth of Unlimited Diesel Performance fabricate the plumbing to make it all work.
For that extra punch going down the track, a two-stage NOS nitrous system got the call. The first stage activates at wide-open throttle and the second comes in later, thanks to a time delay box. As it turns out, the added oxygen keeps EGT extremely manageable. Brian told us the engine never sees more than 1,300 degrees on spray, whereas on fuel only he can peg the 1,600-degree pyrometer.
Absorbing all the abuse the potent 7.3L turns out is an E4OD automatic built by Service First in Lancaster, Ohio. Key items inside the slushbox include a Precision Industries Stallion torque converter, Alto Red clutches, a billet-steel input shaft and forward drum, and a Sonnax shift kit. Tying everything together is Matt Robinson of Gearhead Automotive Performance. So far, his PCM tuning has allowed the Power Stroke’s stock bottom end to survive all the punishment.
At roughly 650 hp, Brian knows he’s right at the limit of what the stock forged connecting rods can handle—but that isn’t stopping him from wanting more. “We keep pushing the envelope and pushing the envelope,” he says. But with an 11.69-second quarter-mile pass already under his belt, Brian has even bigger plans for the future. “If I could run an 11.1 or 11.2 on BFGoodrich All-Terrains, that’d be a hell of a run for a 7.3L, daily driven farm truck.”