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1997 Ford F-250 - Keeping It Simple

A 700hp, Budget-Themed OBS Ford

Jason Sands
Feb 17, 2014
Photographers: Jason Sands
We ran into Matt Maier at the 2013 Scheid Diesel Extravaganza, where he was drag racing his daily-driven ’97 Ford F-250. As he lined up, we dutifully got our camera ready for what we figured to be a 9- or 10-second eighth-mile pass out of the 7.3L Power Stroke. At that moment, the truck rocked back and shot off the line, creaming the Dodge in the next lane with a 7.43-second run, at 92 mph. For those who don’t speak eighth-mile, that’s roughly 11.40s at 115 mph in the quarter-mile! We went over and talked to Matt straight away and found that he also sled pulls and tows a 40-foot gooseneck with his Ford, in addition to the drag racing and daily driving.
While Matt admitted to using a 0.073-inch jet of nitrous on his 7.43-second pass, he said the truck runs high 7s in the eighth-mile (low 12s in the quarter) without the spray, which means he’s still making about 600 hp at the wheels without the bottle. As healthy as that is for a 7.3L, his build was deceptively simple. For starters, his engine is a bone-stock, 212,000-mile piece, with the only modifications to the long-block being ARP head studs, and a set of 910 valvesprings from Competition Cams. On the HEUI side of the equation is a single Stealth SRP1.1 high-pressure oil pump, a set of Full Force Diesel 350/200 injectors, and an Irate Diesel competition fuel system, which uses a Fuelab lift pump. The turbocharger is a box-stock 68mm S400 from BorgWarner, which uses the factory 1.10 A/R housing and mounts to the engine using an Irate Diesel T4 mount kit. The exhaust uses a 3-inch downpipe (larger downpipes are hard to package in older Fords) and the intake is a custom piece with an S&B filter. Matt also custom-built his own two-stage water injection system, which he uses to keep EGT down when towing.
"Even after I bent a few rods, the 7.3L engine still ran—it just smoked a little. —Matt Maier"
The transmission was one area Matt splurged and spent some dough, as he knew his schedule of races, pulls, and 13,000-pound tows would be extremely hard on his truck’s slushbox. For reliability and strength, he went to Brian’s Truck Shop for a forged-shaft E4OD automatic, complete with a triple-disc, stock-stall torque converter. The factory computer controls its operation, but Matt has a manual converter lockup switch he uses for sled pulling. The rest of the drivetrain is largely unmodified, save for a Dana 60 up front that was installed after he grenaded the factory Dana 50 TTB on the Ford’s very first dragstrip pass. The axles have 3.55 gears, and the stock limited slip was retained in the 10.25-inch rearend, with the only other suspension modification being a set of owner-built traction bars.
Photo 2/11   |   1997 Ford F 250 On Drag Strip
In the months since the Scheid event, Matt managed to bend a few connecting rods in his 7.3L. “It still ran,” Matt recalls, “but it smoked white, and you could hear a ticking noise where a couple of pistons were hitting the crank.” Luckily, Matt had bought a stock rebuilt 7.3L engine a couple of years ago for the day when his high-mile Power Stroke finally gave up, so after a quick long-block swap, he was back on the road. Although Matt admits he’ll eventually step up to bigger injectors, compound turbos, and aftermarket connecting rods, he’s very happy with how his Ford has performed. “A lot of people have been so impressed by it, that there’s a few trucks in the area running around with this same exact setup,” Matt says. Based on its performance, we can’t say we’re surprised.
Fast Facts
Year/Make/Model: 1997 Ford F-250
Owner: Matt Maier
Hometown: Readyville, Tennessee
Odometer: 212,000 miles
Engine: 7.3L Power Stroke V-8, ARP head studs, Competition Cams 910 valvesprings, Smith Brothers pushrods
Air: BorgWarner 68mm S400, Irate Diesel T4 mount kit, Super Duty intercooler, custom intake, 4-inch MBRP exhaust, Nitrous Express single-stage nitrous system
Fuel: Stealth SRP1.1 high pressure oil pump (HPOP), Full Force Diesel 350/200 injectors, Irate Diesel competition fuel system, two-stage water-methanol injection system using Devil’s Own parts
Horsepower: 600 hp on fuel, 700 hp on nitrous (est.)
Torque: 1,000 lb-ft on fuel, 1,200 lb-ft on nitrous (est.)
Transmission: Brian’s Truck Shop E4OD, forged shafts, stock-stall triple-disc torque converter
Tires: 285/75R16 Mastercraft Courser C/T
Wheels: 16x7 factory Alcoa
Suspension: Stock with owner-built traction bars
Fun Fact: Sometimes, to mix it up, Matt trailers his tow rig to the track using his ’97 Ford.

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