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  • Diesel Trucks For Children's Charities - Desert Thunder

Diesel Trucks For Children's Charities - Desert Thunder

Pulling For Charity

Jason Sands
Oct 1, 2008
Photographers: Jason Sands
Photo 2/21   |   Event organizer Craig Johnson, who owns Big Power Diesel out of Palmdale, California, was the wheelman behind Tom Colescanti's truck while Tom was on military leave. The big Dodge overpowered the hard but sandy track, and Craig pulled his way to a Third Place finish.
Diesel truck pulling has evolved into a pretty serious sport. Top competitors are running $50,000 engines and changing parts almost every weekend, but every once in a while there are grassroots-style events that remind us where the sport came from. One such event occurred on June 14th in Palmdale, California. The sled pull was part of a larger event called Thunder on the Lot, an event that focuses on helping children's charities-everything from helping fight muscular dystrophy to providing adequate dental care for children in the area. The event features a car and bike show, a burnout contest, and more. This year saw the addition of diesel sled pulling to the lineup, which helped raise more than $300,000 for children.
The track was hard-packed and dusty, and many competitors used this event as a test for later competitions that would be coming this year. Nick D'Amico just had a fresh engine installed and his up-pipes fixed at J&H performance, while Kat and Pat McSwain brought out their drag trucks to see how they would fare when hooked to a sled. We also were introduced to the cool P-pumped first-gen of Cole Dow, who was looking to put a hurt on the competition in the Super Street class.
Photo 3/21   |   Before the sled pull, there was a drivers' meeting where all the rules were explained.
As the pulling started, the first surprise was the two-wheel-drive Duramax of Lawrence Doty. With Super Swampers providing plenty of dirt-slinging traction, the two-wheel drive churned its way out to 260 feet, picking the front wheels off the ground on every shift. As the event went on, many pullers began having problems, and those who were underdogs started to shine. In Street Stock, Kat McSwain used some aggressive driving to score a First Place finish. In Super Street, Nick D'Amico's turbo didn't light until about 100 feet out. It turned out that a wounded torque converter left him with no ability to spool, and also no boost until Second gear. Cole also had his share of problems with a turbo that wouldn't light at Palmdale's elevation. This left the door open to Pat McSwain, who used the hard track and his truck's 800 hp to pull an impressive 308 feet for the surprise win in Super Street. Not bad at all for a drag truck!
In the Modified class, Joel Gooch and his twin-turbo Cummins were up against Scott Vorhees and his monster-motored tube chassis creation. Over the winter, Scott installed a Dodge body on his ride, replacing the Ford sheet metal and creating the Big Bad Dodge II. With a 297-foot pull to Joel's 211, it was clear that having cut tires and twice the horsepower was a clear advantage for Scott. Overall the event was a big success, and the fans really enjoyed the diesel entertainment. The pull was for a very good cause, and sled pulling events are few and far between in California (for reasons we can't understand), so make sure to put Thunder on the Lot on your calendar for next year.
2wd Pullers?Yes, we can say that it is possible. You can use a two-wheel-drive truck to sled pull. Lawrence Doty used a set of super aggressive tires along with a bunch of weight in the bed to pull more than 260 feet, unofficially putting him in Fourth Place (he was classified as Exhibition). Lawrence also was allowed to set his hitch at 30 inches up from the normal 26 inches to allow more weight to be transferred to the rear wheels during the pull. We don't know about you, but we here at Diesel Power want to see more two-wheel-drive sled pullers.



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