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  • Isuzu D-Max Pro Stock Diesel Race Truck - Team Thailand

Isuzu D-Max Pro Stock Diesel Race Truck - Team Thailand

A Pro Stock Diesel From Halfway Around The World

May 22, 2014
Photographers: Jason Sands
Racing is a global language that unites the world. People from all walks of life, in all nations, understand this drive to compete. At times, we get so focused on our own slab of earth that we fail to realize this. Whether racing on foot, horseback, skis, skates, or from behind the wheel of an automobile, the thrill of going faster than others in competition is a universal feeling. And as much as we may feel the sport of diesel drag racing is uniquely American, there are others in the world who would disagree. Nobody understood this more than Bryant Blakemore of San Antonio, Texas, as he set out on a yearlong mission to bring one of the fastest diesel trucks in Thailand to the United States.
The idea was sparked innocently enough when a photo of tube-chassis, tubbed and slicked, nitrous-snorting, hood-stacked, diesel drag trucks popped up on Facebook. In the photo, men in sandals and writing Bryant could not even begin to decipher surrounded the truck. At this point, he only knew two things: It was foreign, and it was awesome. A few days spent scouring the Internet turned up photos and videos of the amazing diesel drag racing scene in Thailand, where they race everything from diesel river boats and the equivalent of diesel-powered soapbox racers to full-blown Pro Stock trucks. After contacting a parts distributer in Thailand named Scott Chen (Sukij Suksirisorn), who was also the team manager for the fastest truck in the country, Bryant asked one simple question: “Would you like to come race in the United States?” His answer was a rapid and direct “Yes!”
Photo 2/13   |   Underneath the carbon-fiber body lives an Isuzu 4JH1-T 3.0L four-cylinder common-rail turbodiesel engine. From the factory, this powerplant put out an acceptable 120 hp. However, thanks to the combination of aftermarket rods and pistons, a custom-ground camshaft, huge turbo, dual CP3s, and an ECU Shop standalone computer, this four-banger now churns out an estimated 700 hp on fuel only.
In the following months, Bryant was presented with a number of great challenges, many of which came as surprises. The goal would be to race at the NHRDA World Finals, but not having made any previous events, the team would only be allowed to run as exhibition -- not for the title in the Pro Stock Class. With the team accepting this, they began the six-month process of obtaining the proper visas for their trip to the states. Once the visa process was complete and the team cleared for the trip, all attention turned to preparing the truck.
Before the little Isuzu D-Maxcould race in the U.S., it needed to pass tech for the speed it was expected to run. This is where Bryant suffered his first major setback. Working with photographs of the chassis sent by the team, and with Michael Pliska from Isspro helping to review them, it was discovered that the chassis was built of thin-walled tubing and was not mandrel bent. This meant the truck was not even close to passing the necessary tech inspection. With only five weeks until the World Finals, the team rebuilt the entire chassis to SFI 25.2 specifications, clearing it for the speed they intended to run.
After reassembling the truck and making a few test passes at the local strip to ensure everything was functioning correctly, it was loaded onto an aluminum pallet, wrapped in plastic, and shipped to Texas by air. Once here, the remainder of the necessary safety equipment was installed, and Bryant met with the NHRA inspector to get the chassis inspected and approved. The entire 10-person crew from Thailand arrived a few days after the truck.
Photo 6/13   |   Taking a look at the cockpit reveals a no-nonsense layout, with everything needed to pilot the truck within easy reach.
The next day, the team was reunited with their truck at the eighth-mile track in Denton, Texas. Everything on the truck was checked and double-checked before firing it up for the first time in the Western Hemisphere. After a flawless burnout, the staging bulbs were lit, the light turned green, and the little four-cylinder from Thailand thundered down the track, clicking off a mid-5-second pass at more than 120 mph. But something was awry. A puff of white smoke indicated there was an issue, and an agonizingly long trip down the return road confirmed it.
Once back in the pits, the team immediately started tearing down the vehicle to investigate. It was quickly concluded that the engine was toast. The team determined that our fuel, being approximately 48-cetane, was inferior to their 60-cetane fuel back at home. Fortunately, the team had arrived impeccably prepared with tools, equipment, spare parts, and even a complete engine. In only five hours, they had the spare engine swapped in with nothing more than handtools and determination. Their teamwork, communication, and camaraderie impressed everyone who stood by and watched. With the truck fixed and loads of cetane booster added to the fuel, the team made a few more practice passes before packing it up and heading to the World Finals in Ennis, Texas.
Photo 10/13   |   Isuzu D Max Pro Stock Diesel Race Truck Rear View
The NHRDA World Finals would be the team’s first true display of what they were capable of, and the real reason they traveled halfway around the globe. However, before they would be allowed to make a full pass, the driver, Thanaphon Chucahroenpon, was required to obtain his NHRA driver’s license. These licensing passes took place during the qualifying rounds for the other classes and were all completed without incident before the sky opened up with rain, delaying the main event until the next day.
With race day now upon them, the team from Thailand was finally able to make a full pass on an American quarter-mile dragstrip. The 3.0L four-cylinder-powered Pro Stock truck made several exhibition runs and knocked down an impressive 8.22-second pass at 164 mph. At the end of it all, the team had accomplished its goals of coming to the U.S., obtaining an official NHRA racing license, and being able to run on a sanctioned track in front of an audience.
Upon their arrival back in Thailand, the team was treated as national heroes. Hundreds of people were waiting with banners and flowers at the airport, and diesel trucks filled the streets and parking lots around the terminal. They were interviewed on numerous television shows, and the truck was placed on display at car shows all around the country. The team is already making preparations for a return -- bigger and better -- in 2014.
Photo 11/13   |   Isuzu D Max Pro Stock Diesel Race Truck Team
We coaxed the entire race team into posing for a photo after their run. These guys run a truly world-class race program, and a deep debt of gratitude goes out to Bryant for making it possible for them to run in the United States.
Sukij Suksirisorn - Team manager
Yong Ngamrabiab - Chassis builder and suspension adjustment
Jakapan Wetchirarat - Frame owner
Supachok Leelertpanchai - Mechanic supervisor
Prasan Leelertpanchai - Mechanic
Parit Leelertpanchai - Mechanic
Thanaphon Chucahroenpon - Driver
Ponpoj Wannapinyochip - ECU Shop, control box
Kunpod Tripuwabhrut - ECU Shop, control box
Suthipoj Tripuwabhrut - ECU Shop, control box
Bryant Blakemore - U.S. team coordinator

Fast Facts
Make/Model: Isuzu D-Max
Owner: Jakapan Wetchirarat
Country: Thailand
Engine: Isuzu 4JH1-T 3.0L I-4
Aspiration: Single 71mm Mitsubishi turbocharger, air-to-water intercooler
Fueling: Dual CP3s
Horsepower: 700 hp (est.)
Transmission: Liberty five-speed manual, air-shifted
Tires: Hoosier
Wheels: Weld Racing
Suspension: Strut front, four-link rear
Fun Fact: The team completely rebuilt the truck only five weeks before shipping it to the U.S. for the NHRDA World Finals.
Photo 12/13   |   The truck’s front suspension is a minimalistic strut-type typically found on tube-chassis Pro Stock drag cars.
Photo 13/13   |   What started as a wild idea in the head of Bryant Blakemore quickly morphed into reality when the quickest truck in Thailand landed in the United States. Bryant spent the better part of a year jumping through hoops, sorting out government bureaucracy, and raising the necessary funds to bring this amazing diesel Pro Stock drag truck to the 2013 NHRDA World Finals.



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