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Detonation; Enthusiastic Racing

Detonation

John Lehenbauer
Jun 7, 2017
Photographers: John Lehenbauer
As a fan of things that go fast, I have drag racing near the top of my must-watch motorsports list. I have been fortunate enough to attend some Outlaw Diesel Super Series events, and I’ve noticed that I’m definitely not the only one enjoying the thrill of the drags. The number of people who come out to spectate continues to grow, as does the total count of competitors who enter each event. More and more diesel jockeys are eager to see what they and their rigs can do on the strip. This ever-increasing enthusiasm for diesel drag racing is amazing to witness, and it’s definitely growing the sport—in both popularity and competiveness.
In April 2017, I attended the Rudy’s Diesel Performance season-opening event at Piedmont Raceway in Julian, North Carolina. It was a great two days of diesel madness, highlighted by the Outlaw Diesel Super Series drawing 165 competitors to the venue to wage war in six different drag-racing classes. The category with the largest turnout was our own (well, ours and ATS Diesel Performance’s) 7.70 Index Class, with 62 truckers reporting to the staging lanes for the first round of eliminations. For every race across all classes, the stands were packed to near capacity with cheering spectators watching vehicles roar down the eighth-mile.
As the enthusiasm continues to increase for this type of drag racing and the competition gets more heated, drivers’ willingness and desire to push themselves and their vehicles to the next level will rise. Competitive people want to win—they will not voluntarily let themselves sit idly or settle for second best. Their free time is spent at the track testing and racing, or in the garage prepping and building.
Photo 2/2   |   For racers in the Outlaw Diesel Super Series, a few seconds of throttle-mashing excitement is totally worth all the time and energy they commit to their trucks.
It is not an easy endeavor to put the right combination of components together. The engine alone has so many different ways it can be manipulated for power. Combine that with the complexity of the rest of the drivetrain, and you have a lot to get right. Getting everything to sync together and perform at its peak is a chess game. One move can take you forward or set you back. But that desire to be on top pushes people to keep trying and experimenting with new ideas.
Ingenuity and creativity are the things that really push motorsport technology forward. The guy or gal who can really think outside the box and bring something completely different to the table may have the key to winning. I understand there are rules in many classes that limit what can be done to an engine or vehicle, but he or she who has an ability to apply new concepts to the sport (a mechanical principle or technology that is not normally associated) could gain an advantage, and any edge, even a slight one, can be rewarded with a spot on the podium.
Racing has traditionally been the cornerstone for research and development of performance parts. That need and desire to go faster and win has stirred the creativity in many an individual and opened their eyes to ways of creating more power, speed, or efficiency from what is many times the simplest concept. Most ideas or theories have to be proven through trial and error. But, in the end, the sacrifice of time and energy (and money) proves it could definitely be worth it.
There is a reason auto and truck builders around the world support racing in one form or another and why they pump money into research and development. Racing is where a lot of new technology is born and where that technology is proven. Many of the advances made in competition will make it into what is driven on the road. The fastest production cars in the world owe much of their performance ability to people’s desire to race and win.
Even the new high-powered diesel pickup trucks on the market today owe much of their torque and power to racers’ and enthusiasts’ desires to improve their engines. Manufacturers pay attention to what is being done to the powerplants they produce, and then analyze what works and what doesn’t perform as expected.
As more people continue to enjoy the excitement of racing diesels, the more the technology will develop, which will continue to push the industry and racing to new levels. I’m waiting to see what the next big step forward is and where it comes from. Never count the little guy out.

- John

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