Weekend on the Edge 2009 at Rocky Mountain Raceway
A Two-Day Truck Lover's Rendezvous
Those who don't like the smell of burning rubber mixed with dense black smoke wouldn't understand the appeal of Weekend on the Edge. Nor would they likely understand how the roar of two turbodiesels, pumped to their limits, could draw such a big crowd to watch tires spin, then catch as trucks streak past the Christmas tree. That's their loss.
We were at the Rocky Mountain Raceway outside of Salt Lake City for the annual event in Ogden, Utah. Edge Products, a designer and manufacturer of diesel and gas fuel-management computer upgrades/chips, invites owners of diesel trucks to test their power and driving skills on the track. Fords, Chevys, GMCs, and Dodge Rams were competing head to head.
To make the competition fair to those who didn't take a second loan on their home to build a race truck, there were three classes in this year's event. The first is called the E.T. Bracket Class. During initial warmup and qualifying runs, drivers decide the fastest elapsed time they think they can duplicate. For example, if you know your truck can turn a 10.83, but given the conditions of the track and the day your best time was 11.42, you would be smart to enter a dial-in time of 11.00 seconds. That time is written on your windshield. During competition, you must try to duplicate that time, but not any faster. The closer you come to that 11-second time without going under it (faster), the better your chances to win. If you go faster than 11.00, like maybe a 10.9, that would be "breaking out," which results in an automatic loss.
So in bracket racing, it's not just money, power, and speed, but driver skill. To further complicate things, the timing lights are programmed to give each entry a handicap based on their chosen dial-in time. This means that a really fast truck might have a green light on the Christmas tree of a second or two later than the guy next to him at the line. As drivers speed down the track, we could sometimes see brake lights come on before the end of the quarter mile. Your reaction time, the lapse in hundreds of a second between the instant the Christmas tree light turns green and the moment you trip the timing light, can be critical, and you still need to cross the finish line first.
The second category was the Quick Diesel Class. This is open to all competitors who can do at least a 12-second quarter mile. The catch is, they can't go any faster. They start head to head. No handicap on the lights. First truck across the finish line without going faster than 12 seconds wins.
The third class this year was the Pro Street Diesel Class. This is all-out drag racing. Anything goes that makes you quicker, head to head, and the fastest truck wins.
There were some nice incentives in all this fun. First place in the bracket class won $500. First and second in both the Quick Diesel and the Pro Street Diesel classes got $1000 and $500, respectively. This year's winner in the E.T. Bracket Class was Karl Martin in a Dodge. His time was 17.084, quite a bit slower than his 16.06 dialed in time, but seeing that his competitor, Lance Groft, also in a Dodge and having gear problems, was far behind, Lance hit the brakes to make sure he didn't break out.
Trent Neal took home the money in the Quick Diesel Class, with a 12.241 time at 101.41 mph. Andrea Coddens captured second in a GM. The big winner in the Pro Street Diesel was Dmitri Millard in a 2001 Chevy. His 12-second time took him across the timing light at 118.53 mph. As an enthusiastic crowd filled the stands, racing continued till after midnight.
Early the next morning, truck owners were already lining up at the Edge facilities in Ogden for Dyno Day. Two of Edge's three dynamometers, a Mustang and a SuperFlow, were open to diesel enthusiasts who wanted to see what their machines could do. This year there were two classes. Diesel Only, which allows chips, custom injectors, twin turbos, custom exhaust, or any other modification, as long as it burns diesel only; and Open Class, which allows all of the above, plus propane, nitrous, and water injection in any combination. First place in each class split a $1500 purse. Dmitri Millard, already the winner of the Pro Street Diesel Class in the drags, pushed his 2001 Chevy to 859.7 horsepower and 1176.2 pound-feet of torque. Jared Bristol's 2005 Dodge took first in the Diesel Only Class, with a very impressive 657.2 horsepower and 1284.5 pound-feet.
The competition is important, but Dyno Day is also a family event, with a great DJ spinning CDs, a delicious barbeque, and some of the most meticulously prepared trucks we've seen anywhere in the country. Ken Jones brought his Wild Diesel sled-pulling 1942 Dodge WC53 Weapons Carrier. Its Cummins 5.9-liter diesel is topped by two huge turbos pumping up to 145 pounds of boost to produce 1350 horsepower on regular diesel, and it's street legal. The 50-caliber machine gun was optional.
Zane Koch, owner of Wide Open Performance in Sandy, Utah, was on hand to explain the triple-turbo 2006 Dodge his shop had just finished. The 700-horse Cummins has 90-horsepower Dynomite injectors and Smarty programmer.
As we wandered up and down the lines of contestants waiting for their turn on the dyno, we came across some unique entries. Wayne Yates had stuffed a 6.0-liter Power Stroke in his stretched 1972 Ford four-door. An AFT Stage II intake, a 5.0-inch exhaust, a FASS lift pump, and Elite Stage 4 injectors among other modifications gave him 530.5 horsepower and 961 pound-feet of torque.
Jordan Hendrix was duly proud of his 1998 12-valve Cummins. A High Tech HTB2 turbo, some 370 injectors, a little pump work, and a 4.0-inch exhaust combined to give him a 14.5 in the drags at 96 mph. On the dyno, he put out 399 horsepower. Not bad for an engine with no black boxes that anyone can work on without special tools.
Don't think for a second that this is just a grown-up rich-guy's thing. Lindsey Yates, aka Sled Girl, took her 2004 Dodge Ram up to 370 horsepower and 851 pound-feet of torque. Kids can play too. A young (16) but talented Spencer Frost bought his well-used 1994 Dodge for about $2200 so he could drive to school. He added a 4.0-inch turbo, 75-horsepower injectors, and water/methanol, and tweaked the pump a little. Spencer told us it could do 0 to 60 in 7.5 seconds. On his dyno test, 292 horsepower and 780 pound-feet of torque showed he had done his homework.
For information on next year's Weekend on the Edge, call Edge Products or check its Web site.