Diesel Power Challenge 2010

20,000-lb-ft Battle: 14 Diesel Trucks, Five Events, 1 Winner

Jason SandsSep 1, 2010
The competition at this year's Diesel Power Challenge was fiercer than ever. In addition to the 14 bad-to-the-bone trucks, there was also a myriad of strategies on how to win. Some trucks went light-Cole Dow's '93 Dodge weighed only 5,880 pounds-which proved to be a distinct advantage on the dragstrip. Other trucks, such as Dustin Woodhouse's 8,460-pound '08 Ford, were looking to take the trailer tow and sled pull. Matt Handwork decided to run his '03 Duramax on drag radials for the entire event and was planning on giving up points in the sled pull to win in the drag race and trailer tow. We saw Ford trucks come on strong like never before, as Mike Corsilli's 6.4L and Brian Jelich's 7.3L both had a chance to finish in the top three going into the last event. So hang on tight, and we'll take you on the wild ride full of smoke and fire that was Diesel Power Challenge 2010.
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Event Number One: The Dyno
The Heavy Hitters
The dyno portion of our event is scored on torque, rather than horsepower, to keep the engines with huge, unstreetable turbo setups from dominating the event. Still, the numbers we saw in both torque and horsepower this year were outstanding. The event got started off with a bang, with Cole Dow's '93 Dodge laying down 1,648 lb-ft of torque and 872 hp and promptly catching the chassis dyno's exhaust tube on fire after a nitrous backfire caused by a blown intake boot. Cole and his brother Cory were unfazed. "It's not like this is the first time the truck has caught on fire," Cory said with a completely straight face. After an anonymous rescuer stepped in with a fire extinguisher, it was time to move on to other rigs. Matt Handwork was another dyno standout, as he hit multiple stages of nitrous on his Duramax-powered Chevy with his mammoth turbo reading only 9 psi of boost. The turbo lit instantly with all the spray, and the camouflaged Chevy put down 1,663 lb-ft and 869 hp. Common-rail Dodges are always strong runners, and Brian Parker's '06 Cummins made 953 hp and 1,685 lb-ft the numbers to beat. Remember how we said earlier that we rate the competition on torque to keep the high-rpm engines out? Well, it turns out that if you can make an insane 1,212 hp like Dmitri Millard, a First Place torque number of 1,792 lb-ft also gets created. In case you're wondering, this now makes Dmitri's truck the world's most powerful Duramax.
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Surprises and Disappointments
Other trucks that surprised us included Mike Corsilli's 6.4L Power Stroke with a 1,570-lb-ft reading, and Brian Jelich's 1,436-lb-ft 7.3L-powered '00 F-250. The dyno competition wasn't all sunshine and daisies, however-a lot of the competitors had issues. Dave Sanders' nitrous didn't work, and he was limited to 1,341 lb-ft. Dustin Woodhouse was having trouble lighting the big single turbo on his 6.4L, and 1,150 lb-ft was all he could muster. Mark Randall was having fueling issues and would be plagued by them for most of the competition. On the dyno, his bad, blue 12-valve could only hit 985 lb-ft. Perhaps worst of all, returning champion Robert Evans had fueling problems that were limiting his rail pressure. After scoring a disappointing Twelfth Place on the dyno with 1,202 lb-ft, he decided to withdraw from the competition, despite driving more than 2,000 miles from Nevada to compete in our event. "This is still my daily driver; I can't afford to break it," he explained.
Photo 4/39   |   The 5.9L Cummins in Cole Dow's '93 Dodge W250 engine compartment virtually disappeared in a maze of piping. With only about $15,000 in the entire truck (plus a lot of favors), Cole and his brother Cory were a great example of what can be accomplished with excellent fabrication skills. Everybody was curious how the low-buck P-pumped first-gen would do on the dyno.
So, when all the diesel fumes, smoke, and fire cleared from the dyno room at TS Performance, Dmitri Millard stood atop the leader board, although with two Dodges, two Chevys, and one Ford all represented in the top five, it was still anyone's game.
Event Number Two: Eighth-Mile Drag Race
Half the Distance Meant the Pressure Was On!
With our usual facility for drag racing under 17 feet of water in Bowling Green, Kentucky, the Diesel Power staff had to improvise, which meant relocating to Music City Raceway, an eighth-mile track just north of Nashville. Before the event, many competitors expressed the desire to run a 10.99 or better in the quarter-mile during competition, which conveniently enough is about 6.99 in the eighth-mile, based on the NHRA's correction factor of 1.57. Finishing 13th Place was Dave Sanders' Duramax, which was battling shifting issues down the dragstrip. He was only able to pull out an 8.57-second elapsed time. Sean Gammel broke his transfer case on his big, heavy Dodge common-rail on his one-and-only tire-spinning pass of 8.48 seconds. Mark Randall's 12-valve was still fighting fueling issues and ran an 8.39 at 82 mph. Despite making 100 hp more on the dyno than Dustin's truck, Nate Berges and Dustin Woodhouse ran virtually identical elapsed times in their 6.0L and 6.4L-powered Fords. In the standings, Nate just squeaked ahead with a 7.797 to Dustin's 7.798. Moving on up, Mike Corsilli, Cole Dow, and Bryan Garey were all bunched up in the 7.50s. Mike's stockish, heavyweight 6.4L surprised everyone at the drags with a 7.55 at 92 mph, which is equal to an 11.85 at 115 mph in the quarter-mile! Bryan Garey ran a 7.509 at 97 mph and burnt an up-pipe in the process. Cole Dow could have run significantly faster than his 7.501 at 92 mph with his P-pumped '93, but he had nitrous trouble on the pass and accidentally bumped the truck into Neutral well before the finish line.
Photo 11/39   |   Dave Sanders had plenty of fuel in his Duramax-powered Chevy, but shifting issues held him back with an 8.57-second elapsed time. His 87-mph trap speed indicated a mid-to-high 7-second potential.
The Race to 6.99
When taking a look at the top five trucks, a big jump in elapsed time occurs. These trucks were experienced drag racers and were able to make pass after pass without breaking. Dustin Mintern's extremely loud Duramax-powered '05 Chevy made multiple runs, eventually culminating in a 7.16-second elapsed time, which was good for Fifth Place. In Fourth was Brian Jelich and his ultra-quick '00 Ford F-250 with a 7.3L Power Stroke. Brian cut 60-foot times in the 1.6-second range, which helped propel him to a 7.09-second pass at 99 mph. Remember that magical 6.99 barrier in the eighth-mile, which indicates a 10-second quarter? Well, the top three trucks all busted right through it. Dmitri Millard saved his best pass for last, running a 6.90-second elapsed time at 106 mph for Third. Brian Parker's common-rail Cummins had been making so much power it developed severe torque converter issues and Brian had to go out on a 20-minute drive to help lower his truck's transmission temperatures. With tires that looked fairly aggressive, Brian shocked everyone with a 6.86-second pass at 106 mph. "So far, so good" was Matt Handwork's strategy for running on drag radials, as his traction advantage and horsepower helped him win at the dragstrip, with a 6.79 at 105 mph. What was even better was that although some trucks were a bit wounded, all would show up for the next event, which always shakes things up: the trailer tow.
Event Number Three:
The Trailer Tow
Front-runners in Trouble
Since we only had an eighth-mile to work with this year, we shortened the 10,000-pound trailer tow event to 330 feet and added a twist. If the competitors were unhappy with how their run was going and let off the throttle by the 100-foot mark, we'd give them another shot. Still, the trailer tow saw some front-runners fall on hard times. Cole Dow, who'd been doing great, didn't light his turbo until about the 200-foot mark and ran a disappointing 9.46 seconds to the 330-foot mark. Matt Handwork had hurt his turbo in the drag race and didn't know it until he hooked to the trailer and couldn't spool. No turbo meant a last place time of 12.30 seconds in an event Matt had hoped to win. Brian Parker (who had finished Second in the dyno and dragstrip events) ran a mid-pack time, finishing in Seventh Place.
Photo 12/39   |   Dmitri Millard put on an awesome performance with his '01 Chevy in the trailer tow. He covered our 330-foot course with a 10,000-pound trailer in an astounding 6.96 seconds. To give a little perspective, a stock '08 6.4L Ford with 350 hp will hit the 330-foot mark at the dragstrip in about 6.5 seconds without a trailer.
Fords and GMs to the Front
"Fords are built to tow!" said Shawn Ellerton two years ago during Diesel Power Challenge, and every year it rings true. In fact, four out of the top six trucks were Fords, as Dustin Woodhouse, Nate Berges, Brian Jelich, and Mike Corsilli finished Third through Sixth. Even with the Fords finishing strong, it was two Duramax-powered Chevys that finished First and Second. Dustin Mintern screamed to a 7.28-second elapsed time, which was more than three-tenths ahead of Third Place. Another three-tenths ahead of Dustin was Dmitri Millard, who put on one of the most impressive displays of horsepower we have ever seen. About 50 feet out, his truck took off like there wasn't even a trailer hooked to it and ran a 6.96-second elapsed time. If he could have stayed in it for the full eighth-mile, there may have been a new record for the fastest-ever trailer tow.
Photo 19/39   |   Sean Gammel's Dodge was another vehicle that limped through the trailer tow. Two-wheel drive meant an Eleventh Place time of 9.24 seconds.
Exhibition Event:
60-to-0-mph
Braking Test
Less Go, More Whoa!
Honestly, the thought of 7,000-pound street trucks going 130 mph in the quarter-mile makes us worry just a little bit about safety. So this year, we included a braking test to make sure these heavyweight rigs are able to stop-and stop in a straight line. As our benchmark, we found that our Toyota Camry rental car was able to stop from 60 to 0 mph in 138 feet. We expected anywhere from about 170 to 250 feet from the trucks, since they weighed about twice as much as the Camry. Our first competitor, Bryan Garey, shattered all those expectations with a 153-foot stop. No ABS on Mark Randall's truck meant a slipping, sliding, sideways, 221-foot stop. Matt Handwork wasn't able to even reach 60 mph in the eighth-mile due to his blown turbo and received no reading. Cole Dow put his lightweight first-generation Dodge in four-wheel drive to prevent the rear tires from locking up, and despite not having ABS, he stopped in an incredible 140 feet. After Cole's test, our 20-year-old radar gun we were using to collect the braking data decided it had enough and quit on us. Although we were only able to get a few trucks tested, seeing huge diesel trucks come to a stop from freeway speeds in only 10 truck lengths was a blast, so look for this event to be coming back as a scored competition or tiebreaker next year.
Photo 20/39   |   Mark Randall's '97 Dodge was fun to watch during the braking test as it skidded to a 221-foot stop.
Going into the Last Day
The Race Toward Victory
Dmitri Millard was solidly in First Place going into the last day, which would feature the ride and drive and sled pull competitions. Still, if anything was to happen to Dmitri, Brian Parker, Dustin Mintern, Matt Handwork, and Brian Jelich were all still in contention for the win. Another notable performance was put in by Mike Corsilli, who had taken his stock-turbo'd, stock-injectored 6.4L Ford and muscled his way into Sixth Place.
Late-Night Thrashes
After the trailer tow, it was clear that more than a couple of people were in for some evening wrenching sessions. Sean Gammel needed a new transfer case after launching it during the drag race (he ran the trailer tow in two-wheel drive). Matt Handwork was busy working late trying to install a new turbocharger for the sled pull, and Dmitri Millard noticed his engine temperatures skyrocketing after finishing up on the dragstrip. The culprit was a bad water pump, which was finally diagnosed when Dmitri discovered a 100-degree difference between the top and bottom radiator hoses. With the help of Cole and Cory Dow (who were stopped at a local gas station buying fireworks), he made a makeshift pit stop (using their trucks and trailers) and got the 3-hour job done in the parking lot-and even managed to fit in a few hours of sleep.
Event Number Four:
The Ride and Drive
A Relaxed Place, a Relaxed Pace
Before the ride and drive event even started, Bryan Garey and Dave Sanders bowed out of the Challenge, which meant we had 11 trucks to worry about keeping in line behind the TS Performance She-Devil pace truck. This year, the ride and drive was a simple route around the rolling, curving, backroads of Kentucky, which meant our average speed was only about 50 to 55 mph, so we expected the fuel economy numbers (which would count as a tiebreaker) to be quite good. The drive itself was pretty uneventful. Cole Dow was the only competitor who had any issues, as his truck refused to restart after it was briefly shut off. After about 15 seconds of fiddling, the truck came back to life and rumbled on.
Photo 30/39   |   Perhaps the most accurate fuel economy reading came from Cole Dow's 12-valve Cummins, which had a fuel cell feeding the engine. That might explain why the lightweight rig was only able to muster 18.27 mpg.
A Shocker During the Fuel Economy Test
After the drive, everybody was pretty sure that Matt Handwork's CNG-assisted Chevy would be a shoo-in for the victory, and with an average of 45.58 mpg, he was the clear winner. What was a big surprise, however, was Dmitri Millard, who averaged 36.55 mpg without any visible means of mileage enhancement. His secret? He was using his special low-pressure nitrous system that he uses to spool his big, twin-turbo setup to accelerate and keep his speed up hills. While people had joked about using nitrous before, Dmitri was the first person to actually do it and surprised everyone with huge mileage gains. Brian Parker, Dustin Mintern, Brian Jelich, and Mike Corsilli all topped 20 mpg, and we were especially impressed by how clean Brian Jelich's truck ran when it was turned down-even with a huge set of injectors. Bigger, heavier trucks such as those owned by Nate Berges, Sean Gammel, and Mark Randall placed further back, although we were surprised by the 19.08-mpg figure of Dustin Woodhouse's big Ford. With everyone successfully completing the drive and tiebreaker fuel economy test, it was time for the final event-the sled pull.
Event Number Five:
The Sled Pull
The Competition Catches Up
In order for the rest of the field to have a chance at catching Dmitri, he needed to place near the bottom in the sled pull, and that's exactly what happened. His turbos didn't light right away, he had traction issues, and he accidentally bumped the Chevy into Neutral, resulting in a Ninth Place performance of 126.12 feet. Cole Dow and front-runner Brian Jelich had bouncing issues, finishing with pulls of 117.81 feet, and 189.99 feet, respectively. Matt Handwork did better than anyone thought he would on drag radials, pulling 237.67 feet before snuffing the turbo out. Nate Berges pulled 243.42 feet in his 6.0L-powered Ford, which was good for Sixth, while Mark Randall broke into the top five despite his horsepower disadvantage in the blue 12-valve. Once he gets the truck dialed in, look for it to be a competitive puller. Dustin Mintern's truck pulled a strong 261.01 feet, which was good for Fourth Place, while Brian Parker (who needed to finish near the top to catch Dmitri) finished Third. Sean Gammel and Dustin Woodhouse, who both piloted heavyweights, were at the lead of the pack thanks to their trucks' long wheelbases, good power, and, of course, 4 tons of weight. As it turned out, Dustin edged Sean in the pull-off, scoring the only win of the event for Team Ford.
And the Winner is...
Did Brian Parker or Dustin Mintern catch Dmitri? Click on the Scorecard to find out the winner of Diesel Power Challenge 2010.

Sources

4Wheel Parts erferer
Compton, CA 90220
877-474-4821
www.4wheelparts.com

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