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King of the Hill

Cummins-powered 1949 Ford F1 breaks the diesel world record at Pikes Peak.

Sep 9, 2020
Now in its 98th year, the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb in Colorado Springs, Colorado, is known throughout the world as one of the most challenging driving events in all motorsports.
At Pikes Peak, drivers race against the clock, pushing themselves and their vehicles up the 7.2 percent grade. They begin from a standing start at Pikes Peak Highway's Mile 7 and head up toward the finish line on the mountain's summit, 12.42 miles (4,720 feet) away and 14,115 feet above sea level. Fun Fact: The course was unpaved until 2012!

Would You Rather Race Dangerous Roads in a Kamaz, the Hoonitruck, or Old Smokey?

Along the way, racers must navigate an amalgamation of 156 sweeping, hairpin, switchback, on-, and off-camber turns (and they have names like "Horseshoe," "George's Corner," "Devil's Playground," etc. ), and take their skill to the limit to keep vehicles on course and not crashing into or hurtling off of either the side of the hill.
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It's an amazing high-speed choreography that brings hopeful competitors and myriad cars, trucks and motorcycles to Colorado from around the world. On August 30, 2020, Scott Birdsall, owner of Chuckles Garage in Santa Rosa, California, was among that group of drivers, in what arguably is one of the most unique vehicles to ever assault Pikes Peak. Scott built and drives "Old Smokey," a 1949 Ford F1 pickup truck with a drivetrain that bucks all conventional thought.
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No, it does not have a 5.0L Coyote engine under the hood, nor is it powered by GM's vaunted "LS/LSX" platform. A Freedom Racing Engines 6.7L Cummins diesel motivates Scott's rig, to the tune of approximately 1,400 compound-turbocharged (Garrett G42-1450 and GTW-3884R) horsepower, which Scott dials back to 1,000 hp for Pikes Peak.
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The truck also has a sequentially shifted ATS Diesel Performance 47RE four-speed automatic transmission, and it is two-wheel drive (with a quick-change differential), on 18-inch Toyo tires. The powertrain is a far cry from that of supercars and hopped-up all-wheel-drive rides, which are typically used for assaulting the grade.
One of the cool ironies about Old Smokey is that its engine is relatively smoke-free. The clean burn is made possible by Dynamite Diesel Products' prototype EDM injectors, a Fass Fuel Systems (Old Smokey's title sponsor) lift pump and Scott's use of NEXGEN Fuel's Nexdiesel renewable fuel.
We've told you a little about the truck so you can fully understand and appreciate what it did at Pikes Peak: On August 30, Scott and Old Smokey set the new e.t. bar for the hill-climb's diesel-class, with a time of 11:24.065!
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Check out the in-cab video, as well as KJ's Zoom discussion with Scott, in which he shares first-hand details about the record-setting run!

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