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The 2016 ATS Diesel Performance Gauntlet Dyno Challenge

The Diesel Scene’s Heavy Hitters Put It All on the Line for $4,500 in Dyno-Challenge Cash

KJ Jones
Mar 10, 2016
Photographers: KJ Jones
The ATS Diesel Performance Gauntlet Dyno Challenge…a high-stakes subset of the Arvada, Colorado, shop’s annual “Let It Roll” dyno day that we immediately took a liking to the moment we learned about it in the winter of 2015. And exactly what is The Gauntlet (as it’s called in short form), you ask? Well, for those of you who aren’t familiar with the event, the answer is actually quite simple.
Given all the lofty claims, boasts, and often-inaccurate Internet reports of incredible diesel performances recorded on chassis dynamometers all over the U.S., ATS gives owners and builders of those heralded oil-burners an opportunity to pay a $500 entry fee and bring their A-games to Arvada for the chance to square off in a rear-wheel-to-rear-wheel, Ford-GM-Ram battle on the “rollers of truth” in the shop’s dyno cell
Photo 2/37   |   030 ATS Gauntlet Welderup
Photo 3/37   |   033 ATS Gauntlet Nitrous
Simply put? It’s a chance to ante up, bring the heat, and hope it’s hot enough for your rig to post the highest combined horsepower and torque total of all competitors once the diesel smoke clears.
Up for grabs is a payout of the total amount collected in entry fees ($4,500 for 2016), as well as a Gauntlet Dyno Challenge champion’s trophy and whatever status that goes with being the winner of an event that’s quickly becoming one of the country’s most prestigious diesel performance competitions of the year.
Photo 4/37   |   034 ATS Gauntlet Tuning
Photo 5/37   |   035 ATS Gauntlet 2016 Duramax Lml
Nine contestants entered the 2016 Gauntlet, including 2015’s winner, James Brendle, who was trying to once again take the jackpot back to Idaho Falls, Idaho. However, we believe James’ hopes of repeating—and seven of his fellow competitors’ optimism for victory—may have been diminished a bit by the presence of Shawn Baca and his Industrial Injection–backed ’06 Dodge Ram 2500: a 2,000hp bully that was resurrected in record time after being totaled in a devastating accident just before the event.
Fans were treated to a great display of Cummins and Duramax diesel performance (unfortunately, no Power Stroke–driven Fords were entered in The Gauntlet). We’re looking forward to future events and hope the number of entries eventually grows to 20 trucks, which will make a total prize of $10,000 to the winner!
Photo 6/37   |   001 ATS Gauntlet Shaun Baca 2006 Dodge Ram 2500 Back
Like a phoenix rising from the ashes, Shawn Baca’s rebuilt ’06 Dodge Ram 2500 sports a new longbed frame and body, and its 5.9L Cummins engine showed everyone at the 2016 ATS Diesel Performance Gauntlet Dyno Challenge that it definitely packs a mighty punch. When the rig’s original shortbed and chassis were totaled in an accident, Shawn and his crew thrashed for four straight days and nights to build this new rig in time for the event.
Photo 7/37   |   002 ATS Gauntlet Competitors Meeting
Nine competitors, representing such shops as Adrenaline Truck Performance, ATS Diesel Performance, Custom Auto, Deviant Race Parts, Diesel Headquarters, Diesel Pickup Specialists, Industrial Injection, Supreme Diesel & Auto Repair, and White Knuckles Garage, paid $500 to enter “The Gauntlet.” The rules are simple: Drive on (the dyno), make as much steam as possible in the allotted 30 minutes, and drive off (failure to exit the dyno under power results in disqualification!).
Photo 8/37   |   003 ATS Gauntlet Trophies
Trophies for The Gauntlet and Let It Roll winners are custom made in-house by ATS fabricators.
Photo 9/37   |   004 ATS Gauntlet Ryan G Clint C Name Pick
Each entrant’s name was placed in a cap and drawn by ATS owner Clint Cannon and marketing director Ryan Gelinas to determine the run order for the competition. As the previous year’s Gauntlet champion, Custom Auto owner James Brendle was permitted to be the last competitor on the dyno in 2016.
Photo 10/37   |   005 ATS Gauntlet Chris Rosscup 2002 Chevrolet Silverado 2500hd
Photo 11/37   |   006 ATS Gauntlet Chris Rosscup 2002 Chevrolet Silverado 2500hd Nitrous
Chris Rosscup loaded his ’02 Chevrolet Silverado 2500HD with, in his words, “all-new everything” (engine, turbochargers, fuel system featuring three CP3 injection pumps, and more), for The Gauntlet and beyond (Chris is also entered in Diesel Power Challenge 2016). The Duramax-powered rig fired the first salvo with a nitrous oxide–infused opening run of 3,544.6 combined horsepower and torque.
Photo 12/37   |   007 ATS Gauntlet Mykle Baugh 2003 Chevrolet Silverado 2500hd
Photo 13/37   |   008 ATS Gauntlet Mykle Baugh 2002 Chevrolet Silverado 2500hd Engine
We were puzzled by the “CAT-Amax” name on Mykle Baugh’s ’03 Chevrolet Silverado 2500HD and initially thought that somehow, some way there might be a Caterpillar engine under its hood (yes, we know it’s a stretch, but, why that particular name?). Shawn Baca actually christened the dual-duty (11-second drag racer/330-foot sled puller) truck with the unique handle, because of its yellow accents in the engine compartment. The truck is loaded with a compound-turbocharged 6.6L Duramax engine that generated a 2,670.6 horsepower/torque total; the lowest of the competition.
Photo 14/37   |   031 ATS Gauntlet Crowd
Photo 15/37   |   032 ATS Gauntlet
Photo 16/37   |   009 ATS Gauntlet Tyler Mize 2007 Dodge Ram 3500
Photo 17/37   |   010 ATS Gauntlet Tyler Mize 2007 Dodge Ram 3500 Engine
We have to give credit to any 5.9L Cummins engine with a stock bottom end that can produce a combined total of 3,941.7 horsepower and torque. The combination resides under the hood of Tyler Mize’s ’07 Dodge Ram 3500, and after having a head gasket replaced one day before The Gauntlet and a nitrous jet removed right before hitting the dyno, the impressive powerplant only needed one pull to nail down a Second Place finish in the competition.
Photo 18/37   |   011 ATS Gauntlet Kelsie Epp 2002 Gmc Sierra 2500hd
Photo 19/37   |   012 ATS Gauntlet Kelsie Epp 2002 Gmc Sierra 2500hd Engine
Kelsie “MissMaxx” Epp, another DPC 2016 hopeful, trekked all the way to Colorado from Northern Alberta, Canada (a 26-hour journey). Based on its 3,295.1 horsepower/torque score—a personal best, without nitrous oxide—the triple-turbocharged (two 66mm units feeding a 72mm) Duramax in Kelsie’s ’02 GMC Sierra 2500HD apparently wasn’t affected too badly by the long trip or Denver’s high altitude. Kelsie scores cool points for having a 2.8L Duramax-powered ’16 Chevy Colorado on order, and she plans to start upgrading as soon as she takes delivery of it.
Photo 20/37   |   013 ATS Gauntlet Shawn Baca 2006 Dodge Ram 2500 Dyno
Photo 21/37   |   014 ATS Gauntlet Shawn Baca 2006 Dodge Ram 2500 Engine
Photo 22/37   |   015 ATS Gauntlet Shawn Baca 2006 Dodge Ram 2500 Champion
If there’s one truck in the diesel scene that can be considered an all-out “bully” in dyno competition, Shawn Baca’s ’06 Dodge Ram 2500 is it. The reconstructed rig’s triple-turbocharged, 5.9L Cummins lived up to its hype by producing an untouchable 5,134.4 horsepower-and-torque total. It’s interesting to note that while the “big number” was made after the nitrous line was opened, an equally amazing combined figure of 4,955.5 was tallied with fuel only.
Photo 23/37   |   016 ATS Gauntlet Jim Swift 2005 Chevrolet Silverado 2500hd Dyno
Photo 24/37   |   017 ATS Gauntlet Jim Swift 2005 Chevrolet Silverado 2500hd Dyno
White Knuckles Garage prepared Jim Swift’s ’05 Chevrolet Silverado 2500HD with a SoCal Diesel–built Duramax engine. While we’re sure the super-clean rig probably gets plenty of accolades on the show circuit, its 3,171.2 performance total confirms it’s a lot more than just a “pretty” pickup.
Photo 25/37   |   018 ATS Gauntlet Cory Chomos 2011 Gmc Sierra 3500 Dyno
Photo 26/37   |   019 ATS Gauntlet Cory Chomos 2011 Gmc Sierra 3500 Engine
Carmela, Diesel Power Challenge alumni Cory Chomos’ beloved ’11 GMC Sierra 2500HD, was taken out of hibernation (the truck had been tucked away upstairs in a corner of the ATS race shop since May 2015) to compete in the Gauntlet Dyno Challenge. While the truck’s compound-turbocharged 6.6L Duramax LML engine is loaded with an impressive array of hardware (headlined by a massive 118mm atmospheric turbo), it still fell short of Cory’s expectations, with a 3,039.9 combined score.
Photo 27/37   |   020 ATS Gauntlet Shawn Aksamit 2009 Dodge Ram 3500 Dyno
Photo 28/37   |   021 ATS Gauntlet Shawn Aksamit 2009 Dodge Ram 3500 Engine
The ’09 Dodge Ram 3500 belonging to Shawn Aksamit gets our respect for being a very, very impressive street truck. Powered by a compound-turbocharged (71mm/104mm) 6.7L Cummins engine, Shawn’s daily driven rig recorded 3,580.6 as a final total and rolled off the dyno with the engine purring like a kitten, ready for the long drive back to Phoenix, Arizona.
Photo 29/37   |   022 ATS Gauntlet James Brendle 2006 Chevrolet Silverado 2500hd Dyno
Photo 30/37   |   023 ATS Gauntlet James Brendle 2006 Chevrolet Silverado 2500hd Engine
Photo 31/37   |   024 ATS Gauntlet Carnage Trophy
As the defending champion, James Brendle had the privilege of running his entry on the dyno last at the 2016 event. All we can say is the tune for the triple-turbocharged, nitrous-injected 6.6L Duramax in Custom Auto’s ’06 Chevrolet Silverado 2500HD must have been set on the proverbial “kill” level, because the engine expired in dramatic fashion not too far into the truck’s first (and ultimately final) dyno run. While there would be no repeat Gauntlet win for Custom Auto, the team received a well-deserved trophy for having the “worst carnage” of the event.
1 Shawn Baca 06 Dodge Ram 2500 1994.3 3140 5134.3
2 Tyler Mize 07 Dodge Ram 3500 1323.6 2618.1 3941.7
3 Shawn Aksamit 09 Dodge Ram 3500 1476 2104.6 3580.6
4 Chris Rosscup 02 Chevrolet Silverado 2500HD 1314.3 2230.3 3544.6
5 Kelsie Epp 02 GMC Sierra 2500HD 1180.9 2114.2 3295.1
6 Jim Swift 05 Chevrolet Silverado 2500HD 1099.7 2071.5 3171.2
7 Cory Chomos 11 GMC Sierra 2500HD 1180.6 1859.3 3039.9
8 Mykle Baugh 03 Chevrolet Silverado 2500HD 947.2 1723.4 2670.6
9 James Brendle 06 Chevrolet Silverado 2500HD DQ DQ DQ

* = With Correction Factor
Photo 32/37   |   036 ATS Gauntlet Tiedown
Photo 33/37   |   025 ATS Gauntlet Jd Gleason Dyno Operator
Diesel Power Challenge 2015 Ford competitor J.D. Gleason (in the driver seat of the truck), and the crew from Auto Trends Motorsports of Fort Collins, Colorado, worked nonstop, loading and unloading more than 100 diesel trucks on the company’s Mustang Dyno MD-AWD-500 chassis dyno for the Let It Roll dyno competition, which is held outside in ATS’ parking lot.
Photo 34/37   |   026 ATS Gauntlet Cummins Work In Progress
Photo 35/37   |   027 ATS Gauntlet White Knuckles Garage Blown Compounded Cummins
Who says diesels, turbochargers, and superchargers don’t mix? The team at White Knuckles Garage in Wanatah, Indiana, totally dispelled that myth with a ’98 Dodge Ram 3500, powered by a stock, 24-valve, VP-44 (injection pump) 5.9L Cummins engine that’s outfitted with compound turbos, “a lot of nitrous, and a lot of methanol” (according to Steve of WKG), and an air-gulping 3.4L Whipple supercharger.
Photo 36/37   |   028 ATS Gauntlet Dustin Burr International
We really dig Dustin Burr’s homebuilt ’41 International powered by a 24-valve, 5.9L Cummins engine with three turbos. As rat rod diesel trucks go, this one is very cool, because it puts 1,200 lb-ft of torque on the ground, and it’s driven regularly and even put to work towing cars all over Colorado!
Photo 37/37   |   029 ATS Gauntlet Outside Dyno Crowd
Let It Roll
Diesel and dyno action wasn’t just happening inside the shop. Hundreds of oil-burners were staged in and passed through the ATS parking lot all day, creating a cool, unofficial show ’n’ shine while waiting to make a run on Auto Trends Motorsports’ mobile dyno. Now in its fifth year, the ATS Diesel Performance Let It Roll competition (presented by the Northwest Diesel Dyno Circuit) is actually the day’s flagship event, with more than 100 diesel rigs making three pulls each, in a heated-but-fun battle for Big Three brand supremacy.