Think you have a fast pickup truck? Are you convinced the big brute in your garage is at the top of the food chain? Sorry, Bunkie, it's time to settle in on the porch to watch the Big Boys at work. Unless your wheels can crank out over 700 horsepower and 1300 lb-ft of torque, it might be in your best interest to kick up your feet and crack open a cold one. Setting a new land-speed record is a bit more involved than just aiming the nose toward the horizon and planting your foot to the floor. Here's how Gale Banks put his name in the record books--again.
Banks has never thought small, and Project Sidewinder reflects that. A long-time diesel proponent, Banks felt the time was right to stuff a Banks-modified '03-model common-rail Cummins inline-six-cylinder diesel engine into a Dodge Dakota, upgrade the suspension with NASCAR-like bits, and point driver Don Alexander toward the far end of the Bonneville Salt Flats. The goal was to break 210 mph. When the salt settled, the Dakota had set a two-way record of 217.314 mph and an exit speed of 222.139 mph.
This assault on Bonneville was started in January 2003 with a Cummins supplied "Salt Quake" warmed-over engine at 393 horsepower. Having a full machine shop is handy, as Banks set about assembling the engine using as many stock production components as possible. Topped with an electronically controlled Holset HY55 variable geometry turbocharger that pumped out 48psi boost at 3600 rpm, the massaged engine head helped maximize airflow. Banks noted a 40 percent increase in airflow through the head after the porting work. One of the goals was to induce a high rate of swirl in the combustion chamber, increasing power as well as reducing emissions.
Any engine that develops the level of power like the Cummins will generate a huge amount of heat. On the street, the Sidewinder uses a Banks Techni-Cooler air-to-air heat exchanger. But at Bonneville, a pair of modified Cummins marine air-to-water intercoolers were utilized. Two Stewart-EMP high-capacity water pumps push the cooling water from a 40-gallon tank located in the bed through the heat exchangers. The weight of the tank and water adds 400 pounds to the overall vehicle weight, from a street weight of 4800 pounds to tipping the scales in race-ready condition at 5205.