Rudy's 2016 Season Opener

Rudy’s Season Opener Kicks off ODSS Drag Racing’s New Year

KJ Jones
May 14, 2016
Photographers: KJ Jones
With a slight feeling of déjà vu in the atmosphere, Outlaw Diesel Super Series drag racers and fans opened the 2016 season at Piedmont Dragway in Julian, North Carolina, the same track where the previous year’s schedule came to a close at Rudy’s Diesel Performance & Offroad’s Fall Truck Jam. The two-day event that’s simply called Rudy’s Diesel Season Opener brought a record number of fans to the property and featured jaw-dropping performances (and some big surprises) on the eighth-mile dragstrip.
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The Opener also kicked off Diesel Power’s cosponsorship of the 7.70 Index Class (the largest at the event), a category we’re very excited to be part of and look forward to following. For you, the alignment with ATS Diesel Performance and ODSS guarantees we’ll be there to bring you highlights of the racing action from four of the season’s five events.
Race 1 is in the books. It was a killer show in North Carolina, and we’re confident the events are only going to get better as the season continues.
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Drag Racing
One of the cool things about drag racing’s off-season is the time off gives teams the opportunity to “reinvent their wheels,” so to speak, by upgrading their machines, and, in some instances, by revamping their entire racing operations, with hope that the changes will result in event wins and/or class championships during the following season. We witnessed the results of quite a few off-season changes at Rudy’s Season Opener, as several competitors made debuts in new classes or unveiled brand-new or completely made-over trucks (and cars).
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And, in what’s becoming a tradition at Rudy’s events, drivers in the crowd-favorite XDP Pro Street category were in hot pursuit of a $1,000 cash bounty paid by Rudy’s owner Aaron Rudolf for any driver who could run a 5.69-or-quicker e.t. during the qualifying sessions. While Seth Sullivan collected a grand with a 5.41-second, 143.06-mph lap, and Lavon Miller and Chase Lunsford also scored the thousand-buck bonus, it’s Ryan Milliken who set the new performance benchmark for Pro Street while earning his $1,000, with a startling 5.29-second eighth-mile e.t. at 131.91 mph.
We’re extremely pleased with the 50-truck turnout for the ATS Diesel Performance/Diesel Power 7.70 Index Class. The quality of racing in the eliminator was equally as impressive as the record number of participants, all of whom seemed pleased to learn Diesel Power is now supporting the category.
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Unfortunately—and we’ll blame it on the probability that many of the MBRP Pro-Dragster and Diamond Diesel Pistons Pro Mod racers may have simply run out of time and were not able to finish their off-season repairs, builds, and upgrades—the numbers of cars were light in those categories. But, it’s only the first race—early in the season. There’s a lot more racing to be done, and we’ll be there to capture the all the highs, lows, and details on who beats whom as racers compete to become ODSS 2016 class champions.
E.T Bracket
Saruday, April 9, 2016
Name City/State Brand E.T. MPH
Winner Tim Burchette Winston Salem, NC Chevrolet 8.6 67.48
Runner-Up Josh Crisp Jamestown, TN Dodge 7.75 92.59
ATS Diesel Performance/Diesel Power 7.70 Index
Saruday, April 9, 2016
Name City/State Brand E.T. MPH
Winner Wade Howard Oak Hill, OH Dodge 7.73 85.77
Runner-Up Josh Crisp Jamestown, TN Dodge 7.67 88.61
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AirDog 6.70 Index
Saruday, April 9, 2016
Name City/State Brand E.T. MPH
Winner Susan Stump Fleetwood, PA Rat Rod 6.81 104.21
Runner-Up Sean Kurz Blairsville, PA Dodge 6.69 97.25
XDP Pro Street
Saruday, April 9, 2016
Name City/State Brand E.T. MPH
Winner Seth Sullivan Stanford, KY Dodge 6 136.7
Runner-Up Ryan Milliken Navarre, FL Ram Broke Broke
MBRP Pro Dragster
Saruday, April 9, 2016
Name City/State Brand E.T. MPH
Winner Wade Moody Mechanicsville, MD Dragster 4.77 149.97
Runner-Up Michael Cordova Franklin, KY Dragster 4.9 139.18
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Blame it on our being hyped, but we think it’s only right that we lead off this report with a look at the Outlaw Diesel Super Series’ ATS Diesel Performance/Diesel Power 7.70 Index racers lined up and ready for battle at Rudy’s Season Opener. The 7.70 racers were 50 trucks strong at Piedmont Dragway—a record turnout for the category.
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Seeing Nathan Laws in the cockpit of a diesel-powered funny car is one of the bigger surprises we encountered at the Opener. Nathan is giving the flopper body a try for 2016 in the very tough MBRP Pro-Dragster Class.
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Although it’s not completed, Mike Dalton’s ’12 Dodge Ram 1500 is well on its way to being one awesome XDP Pro Street race truck. Everything about the rolling chassis Mike displayed is top-of-the-line perfection, and we can’t wait to see the finished rig perform.
It seems the term “overnight thrash” goes hand in hand with drag racing. Derek Rose is plenty familiar with burning the late oil after qualifying and making repairs in order to have his truck ready for eliminations. Derek got his transmission fixed and ready for battle but bowed out in the first round with a loss to Sam Smith. We dig Derek’s new, unique, center-drive setup (the seat and steering wheel are in the middle of the truck), which he says “feels similar to driving a go-kart.”
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The sight of smoke and the sound of diesel engines at full scream on the dyno were steady throughout the two-day event. Mass Diesel Performance put more than 100 trucks through their paces on the rollers, with Tyler Brancifort’s ’11 Ford F-350 being one of the weekend’s big dogs at 1,489 hp and 2,000 lb-ft of torque.
Ryan Esposito is at it again with EcoDiesel performance. As a follow-up to the Espos Diesel Performance compound-turbocharged ’15 Ram 1500 we saw at Rudy’s Diesel Performance & Offroad’s 2015 Fall Truck Jam, Ryan introduced his newest compound system for EcoDiesels, installed on a ’15 Jeep Grand Cherokee. While the setup was yet to be custom-tuned, the compound turbos help make enough steam to carry the Jeep to a 9.10 e.t. (at 76.54 mph) on the eighth-mile dragstrip.
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“Beautiful” is the only word we can use to describe this tastefully crafted Dodge Power Ram “Prospector” dualie that blends the old- and new-schools perfectly.
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Despite severe winds and cold temperatures on race day, ODSS fans were wall-to-wall on both sides of Piedmont Dragway.
“Five-blade” Johnny Gilbert stepped his entire program up during the off-season, adding a new backhalf to his ’02 Dodge Ram, as well as converting its fueling to common rail. A longtime VP44 stalwart, Johnny acknowledges there will be a learning curve with the new setup but is confident the performance benefits will be worth the effort.
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We definitely love a “sleeper” of any sort. This ’06 Ford E-350 van epitomizes a stealth operator worthy of that title. A stock 6.0L and a tune are the only tricks needed for consistent 8.84-second e.t.’s with an 8,500-pound vehicle.
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Seth Sullivan combined his typically stout performance, a holeshot in Round 2, and a stroke of good fortune in the final to score victory in the XDP Pro Street Class at Rudy’s Season Opener 2016.
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Sam Smith…at speed!
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Diesel enthusiasts continue to come up with interesting locations for exhaust systems. The “fender exit” is popular with drag cars. This is the first one we’ve seen on a pickup at an ODSS event.
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Enrique Gonzalez and his 6.6L Duramax-powered ’06 Chevrolet Colorado arrived at Piedmont Dragway with hopes of racing door-handle-to-door-handle against regulars in the XDP Pro Street Class. After nearly 400 pounds of additional ballast were added to bring the truck in compliance with the 4,500-pound minimum weight requirement, mechanical problems ultimately got the best of the Colorado.
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Susan Stump and her Cummins-powered rat rod are always a picture of perfect consistency—on the Tree and at the top end. Steady, clock-like performance at the Opener netted Susan a win in the AirDog 6.70 Class, beating Sean Kurz, who broke out by one one-hundredth of a second.
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Wade Moody survived the war of attrition and finished first in the MBRP Pro Dragster category. With only four cars entered (including Nathan Law’s funny car), the one-round semifinal was settled by competition singles when Nathan and Jared Jones experienced mechanical problems with their respective vehicles. A 0.23-second and nearly 10-mph advantage were all Wade needed for the win over Michael Cordova’s dragster in the final.
At the end of the day, we’re not sure how well the “secret” about Lavon Miller’s major changes was kept, but Lavon’s move from AirDog 6.70 Index racing to the competitive XDP Pro Street field was made 100 percent official at Rudy’s Season Opener. This is Lavon’s all-new ’06 Dodge Ram 2500, built from the ground up specifically for XDP Pro Street competition. The truck performed very well in its debut, running a stout 5.60/133.19 in the first round of eliminations and carrying Lavon to the semifinals, where he lost to Seth Sullivan.
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Wade Howard is our guy! Wade and his ’07 Dodge Ram 2500 are the winners of the ATS Diesel Performance/Diesel Power 7.70 Index Class at Rudy’s Season Opener 2016.
With its 1.27-second 60-foot times, Ryan Milliken’s rig is the hardest-leaving truck in the XDP Pro Street category. Wicked short times are sort of becoming a signature for Ryan’s ’14 Ram 1500, and its e.t. through the end of the eighth-mile is ridiculous.

Sources

Outlaw Diesel Super Series
outlawdiesels.com
Piedmont Dragway
336-449-7411
piedmontdragway.com
Rudy's Diesel & Offroad
866-757-6537
rudysdiesel.com

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