ATS Diesel Performance Gauntlet Dyno Challenge
ATS Diesel Performance Gauntlet Dyno Challenge Winner Randy Reyes
Since 2013, ATS Diesel Performance’s Let It Roll Dyno Day and Gauntlet Challenge, held in early March at the massive diesel-repair and technology facility in Arvada, Colorado, has been acknowledged throughout the diesel spectrum as the hobby’s first major event of any year.
Based on the huge amount of fans and many sponsors who travel from all points of the U.S. and the caliber of trucks and competitors that come ready to send it on ATS’s Mustang chassis dyno for a huge cash payout ($5,000 was at stake in 2018, based on 10 competitors entered at $500/each), we feel the high-stakes shootout serves as the official season opener for diesel competitions everywhere. For many competitors, the 2018 event presented an opportunity to test their trucks and engines in preparation for the Ultimate Callout Challenge and UCC Qualifier, held May 4 to May 6, in Indianapolis, Indiana.
Headlined by defending champion Randy Reyes and his ’06 Dodge Ram 3500, the Gauntlet featured ten extremely stout rigs--Dodges, GMs, and a lone Ram--with several of them capable of pounding the rollers with more than 3,000 combined horsepower and torque.
While football (the U.S. version, not soccer)—from Pop Warner to the NFL—is traditionally considered the “game of inches” based on the way microscopically short distances have the ability to affect games’ outcomes (a great example is an index card a referee used in the late stages of a Dallas Cowboys/Oakland Raiders game to measure the space between the tip of the ball and a first-down mark), 24 inches—two mere feet—ultimately represented the figurative and literal difference and distance between Randy winning Gauntlet Challenge 2018, or going home defeated, despite posting the highest performance total of the event.
The contest’s rules mandate that after making its runs (competitors are afforded 30 minutes to complete as many dyno pulls as they wish to make to achieve the highest combined horsepower/torque values for a single pull), a truck must clear the dyno cell without any outside assistance. A total, no matter how large, is not counted if a truck is assisted (pushed, towed, and so on) out of the dyno area, which is identified by tape boundary lines on the floor.
As the final rig to hit the rollers, Randy’s big dualie put down 1,603 hp and 2,004 lb-ft of torque (3,607), which gave the pair a 273 hp/torque advantage over the 3,434 posted by Ryan Phaff’s ’12 Ram 2500. But it didn’t guarantee victory, because almost immediately after Randy’s Dodge was unstrapped and started rolling off the dyno, its engine died, with the truck stopping after partially making it beyond the dyno’s marked boundary; the front wheels were clear, but the rear wheels were still 2 feet behind the line.
Despite a frantic, all-hands thrash (using a battery jumper box and several cans of starting ether) to get the engine refired and the truck clear of the cell before the 30-minute time expired, it appeared victory might slip through Randy’s grasp. That was before someone brainstormed that disabling the truck’s neutral-safety equipment and torque-converter lockup and then engaging the transmission in any forward gear allows the starter to turn the engine and ultimately the entire drivetrain, enabling the dualie to literally pull itself to Gauntlet glory. There is no doubt,—it was a win for the ages.
Randy’s dramatic victory, the strong debut of Ryan’s Ram, a solid Third Place finish for Dustin Davis in Gomer’s US Diesel Parts’ ’04 Dodge Ram 2500, and a record-setting performance by the single-turbocharged ’04 Dodge Ram 2500 of Tyler Kipp (1,865 hp and 2,732 lb-ft of torque during a blast on Auto Trends Motorsports’ chassis dyno, which was set up in the parking lot for the Let It Roll event and a few post-Gauntlet pulls) all contributed to the annual powerfest at ATS being awesome, as usual, and an indicator that the bar for diesel performance continues to raise higher and higher each year.