8 Hot Trucks Battle For Bragging Rights and Cash At ATS Diesel’s Gauntlet Dyno Challenge
Put Up or Shut Up!
The one thing about diesel enthusiasts’ web forums and social media outlets most of us will agree on is the fact that they’re all hotbeds for spirited debates every now and then—especially when it comes to engine performance.
We’re sure those of you who frequent the message boards have read the posts of shops and general diesel fans who say they own, have built, are associated with in some way, or have heard of trucks with engines making ridiculous amounts of dyno-verified combined horsepower and torque. Now, remember this as you continue reading this report: We’re talking ridiculous amounts.
While our own Diesel Power Challenge is one event that sometimes does make fact or fiction of lofty online performance claims, the dyno team at ATS Diesel Performance has come up with an event that we think could—or should—be universally recognized as one of the dyno showdowns of record each year.
One of the problems with message-board hype is that there’s no consistency in, or globally accepted way of verifying the data that’s reported. Basically, with the “big numbers” coming from chassis dynos of varying makes located all over the U.S. and parts of Canada, their authenticity is often disputed by diesel fans—especially by other truck owners who believe their rig is the bigger dog.
In an attempt to settle some of the higher-profile discrepancies—particularly those between several of the nation’s diesel shops that build uber-powerful trucks—the crew at ATS has created a new (and now annual) dyno competition that we feel may be the one that finally gets to the true bottom line.
The first ATS Diesel Performance Gauntlet Challenge was held in March 2015 at the company’s Arvada, Colorado, headquarters. While the inaugural event didn’t draw all the prime time players we anticipated, the showdown proved to be a straight-up, no-nonsense opportunity for the Internet-proclaimed “heavy-hitters” of the diesel scene to lay everything on the line, once and for all, on the same Dynojet chassis dyno.
Winning the Gauntlet Challenge not only confirms a truck’s performance prowess. The victor also takes home all the monies taken in from each contestant’s $500 entry fee; the pot could get as high as $10,000 should there be a full field of 20 trucks.
Eleven high-powered hopefuls—among them were representatives of Firepunk Diesel, H&S Motorsports, Dynomite Diesel Performance, Smokin’ Okie Diesel, Custom Auto Diesel Performance, Alligator Performance, Deviant Race Parts and more—made the journey to the Rockies for the exclusive event, which was held in conjunction with ATS’ annual Let It Roll Dyno Day, held on a mobile chassis dyno set up in the facility’s parking lot.
Eight rigs ultimately ended up getting strapped down on the indoor Dynojet for the Gauntlet. Teams were permitted 30 minutes to make as many runs (and/or repairs) that were necessary, and scoring was tabulated as the best total of horsepower and torque combined.
We were there for the action, presented to you in the following photos and captions.
Adam Burkholder basically entered the competition for an opportunity to get some baseline performance data on his lightly modified ’04 Dodge Ram 3500, which posted a combined score of 2,800—well off pace with the 3,000 (horsepower + torque) average of the other seven participants’ trucks. Despite this, the score still landed Adam in Sixth Place.
Matt Kaufmann’s ’06 Dodge Ram 3500 is an example of a rig that’s held in high regard, especially by Firepunk Diesel loyalists. It was a favorite to take it all, and Matt’s crew used nitrous oxide to help lock down a fourth-best total of 3,050 (1,050 hp/2,000 lb-ft), while shearing the transmission’s input shaft in the process.
While the ATS Diesel Gauntlet Dyno Challenge is all about power and torque, beautiful red paint and an overall good look is what drew our attention to Jason Patten’s ’06 Dodge Ram 2500. However, that’s not saying this rig doesn’t make steam. The Cummins engine in Jason’s 2500 makes ridiculous torque. However, and unfortunately, a technical problem with the dyno prevented us from witnessing it.
Deviant Race Parts’ ’02 Chevrolet Silverado 2500 surprised everyone, even owner Chris Rosscup, when it grabbed the early lead with 3,149 combined horsepower and torque (1,205/1,944). The daily driver’s big numbers were achieved with compound turbochargers and a fog of nitrous oxide, and they were strong enough to earn Chris Second Place in the Gauntlet Challenge. Chris’ rig also finished First in the Unlimited Class (horsepower only) of ATS’ Let It Roll dyno shootout, with a 1,068hp shot.
Phones up! This sight is becoming the norm at diesel dyno events, drag races, and pulls. A huge crowd showed up to witness the first Gauntlet Challenge, an event we think should be recognized as a “showdown of record” for affirming the prowess of trucks that are lauded by the masses.
Here’s a better look at the winning rig: the ’06 Chevrolet Silverado of Custom Auto. In addition to its sinister blue paint, we really dig the functional custom exhaust pipes that exit through both sides of the truck’s bed.
In a way, it wouldn’t be a dyno competition without at least a little drama. The Gauntlet Dyno Challenge, and its sister event, ATS’ annual Let It Roll Dyno Day, which was also being held, experienced several hours of downtime when dynos for both shootouts went down. Despite the long delay, we salute the crew in the indoor dyno cell for their diligence in getting the system back online so the events could be completed.
If the objective was to simply intimidate the competition by looking absolutely evil, H&S Motorsports' Cummins-powered ’96 Ford Lightning would be a hands-down winner every time. The compound-turbocharged, nitrous-injected race truck is bad to the bone. However, dyno events are not won by hard-core appearance. Payton Hugie fought tuning gremlins throughout his 30-minute session on the rollers and finished with a Fifth Place combined score of 2,914 (1,154 hp/1,760 lb-ft).
This ’06 GMC Sierra 2500HD, called Misery, is well known and highly revered in the diesel drag racing community, as well as on the Internet, for its many race wins and for being the “only truck to ever break the dyno at ATS Diesel Performance.” Unfortunately, engine problems made it impossible for owner Jeremiah Montgomery to show us what Misery can really do on the dyno. But, Jeremiah assured us he planned on getting to the bottom of the problem and having Misery back in action quickly as possible.
Jason Scheffer’s ’04 Dodge Ram 2500 entered the Gauntlet Challenge with a fresh turbocharged Cummins engine and flying the colors of U.S. Diesel Parts. With a sniff of nitrous oxide injected for turbo spooling, the Ram picked up Third Place based on a 1,066hp/2,029-lb-ft (3,095 combined) performance.
Compound turbochargers and nitrous oxide are the power-adders of choice for Cam Hulse. The Duramax in Cam’s ’03 Chevrolet Silverado 2500HD had enough oats to not finish last at the Gauntlet Challenge, putting out a best combined total of 2,746 (967 hp/1,779 lb-ft).
022-ATS-GAUNTLET-CHALLENGE-mark-brower-2004-dodge-ram-2500-front 023-ATS-GAUNTLET-CHALLENGE-mark-brower-2004-dodge-ram-2500-engine We’re not sure if ATS presented a knife-at-a-gunfight award, but if there was such recognition, it would go to Mark Brower’s ’04 Dodge Ram 2500. Backed by Lenny Reed’s Dynomite Diesel Products, the compound-turbocharged, nitrous-assisted Cummins in this rig (that really is used as a work truck every day) generated a best performance package of 2,411 (930 hp/1,481 lb-ft).