Particulate Matters: Wade’s World
In the grand scheme of things, having this editorial space—the place in the magazine where I can offer my opinion on various topics, share news and insights from personal experiences, discuss things I’ve learned, or promote thought and discussion across our reader base—is great, because the topics can truly be as random as the direction the wind blows at any given second.
As topics go, however, for every time I’ve “had nothing” the moment before sitting down to holler at you all, there are more instances when 50 different things to talk about come to my head, almost as soon as my fingers are positioned and ready to start banging away on the keyboard.
This month, all I need for inspiration is a glance through the window of my hotel room and a look at the torrential rain that’s falling in Burlington, North Carolina, the city I’m posted in as I write this. Burlington is also where said rain, promoted by Hurricane Matthew (a Category-4 storm that roared through the eastern part of the state in October 2016) is wreaking temporary havoc on Rudy’s Diesel Performance & Off Road’s “Fall Jam” event, the final leg of the 2016 Outlaw Diesel Super Series race season.
Before leaving Los Angeles, California, for Rudy’s, as the event is called in short form, I was very excited about going back to Piedmont Dragway and seeing racers battle for ODSS event and class supremacy in the last race of our first year of partnership with the sanctioning body.
As a drag racer and a person who has been involved with the sport in various capacities for more than 40 years (good Lord, that makes me sound like a fossil), I have to admit that I was really pulling for our venture to be a success. While Diesel Power has supported happenings throughout the scene from a coverage standpoint for many years, we had never linked our brand with any specific event or group other than our own Diesel Power Challenge.
I have to say that per my somewhat biased assessment, 2016 has been a great season for the ODSS–Diesel Power union. And, as far as the actual racing is concerned, everyone involved (racers, teams, track personnel, and fans) has been awesome. The ODSS season has shown me that diesel drag racing is as hardcore as the small-tire, outlaw, and grudge-style (“door-car”) drag racing I dabble in during my rare free time. While the fuels for that stuff are racing gas or alcohol, my first full season of direct involvement with diesel drags made me think a lot about how cool it would be for us to bring a heavy-hitting, oil-burning truck to the fast-street-car scene. Of course, I know it wouldn’t be landmark, as The Diesel Shop in Miami, Florida, has campaigned a 6.6L Duramax LBZ-powered Chevrolet Colorado against the cars for a few years now.
OK, that’s enough of my fantasizing. This rainy afternoon, a look through the window also takes my thoughts back to the Spring of 2016, when I met and congratulated Wade Howard for winning the final round of eliminations in the ATS Diesel Performance/Diesel Power 7.70 Index Class at the ODSS season opener, which was also held at Piedmont Dragway. As some of you know, we’re linked with ATS as a co-sponsor of this very cool racing category, which features trucks that in many ways are just like some of your rigs. It’s a class filled with street trucks that are modified for performance, but not so far over the edge that they can’t be used on a daily basis for work, general transportation, and so on. I think the 7.70 Class is as real-world as it gets for heads-up-style diesel racing, and I’m glad our name is associated with it.
But, let me get back to Wade. He drove his ’08 Dodge Ram 2500 to victory in that first event and proceeded to win or runner-up in every race after that. When I saw Wade in Crossville, Tennessee (where he was a runner-up), he told me he was trying to win a championship. I wished him luck, acknowledged that he had a good shot at taking it all, and told him I looked forward to shaking his hand at the final event—just like I did at the first one—if he indeed did win the title.
Well, Mother Nature and Hurricane Matthew cheated me out of having that honor. The bad weather forced the ODSS to move the race to the day I had to head back to California, and the high cost of a flight change confirmed I would be seated on my scheduled morning plane. By the time I landed, Wade, who led the points chase in 7.70 Index going into the Rudy’s Fall event, had sealed the deal (by runnering-up in the final round versus Blake Miller) and become the 2016 ATS Diesel Performance/Diesel Power 7.70 Index Class champion. I sure do wish I was there to see it, because I feel it would have been a cool, somewhat ironic, and definitely fitting coming-full-circle moment.
Wade, buddy, if you’re reading this, CONGRATULATIONS! You sure did get it done. And, congrats to all of your fellow 2016 ODSS class champions. I’ll have that handshake waiting for you at the banquet, my man. Mission accomplished.