Stacked Odds

Published in the June 2008 Issue June 2008 Feature, PowerStroke, Spotlight

Even with the odds stacked against it, Mike Dillehay's 2000 7.3L Powerstroke is always a force to be reckoned with at the track.

Building a truck to compete in the DHRA Quick-Diesel class, a class where 12.0 e/ts are the goal, it takes some hard work, a lot of time and plenty of dedication but you can do it. Take a LLY Duramax, slap on some EFI Live Tuning, dual cp3s, some nitrous and a really good transmission and you'll be getting close. What about a 12V Cummins with a set of compound turbos, some injectors, new delivery valves, and a worked over injection pump. You've got another set in stone set-up that'll get you in the 12's. But Dillehay wanted a little more of a challenge.

How about doing it in a 7.3L Powerstroke? Now that's a challenge, something Dillehay was more than ready to try and accomplish. The 7.3L has always been known as a rock solid platform at OEM power levels. The HEUI injection system is a little behind the times, but that motor has proven itself. But how about building one that is going to compete with the newer engine designs and produce some transmission shattering power? Like we said, now that's a challenge.

Starting with his daily driven extended cab long bed 2000 F250 Dillehay the first thing that needed to be addressed was the motor itself. What good is a 750hp truck if it will only make one pass down the track between pushrods bending and venting the block with chunks of factory connecting rods? Dillehay got to work on building a completely worked over stock motor. That 7400-pound truck was going to need some serious horsepower to get down the quarter-mile in 12 seconds flat and it was going to take a fair amount of aftermarket parts to be able to do that reliably, pass after pass.

Van Aacken Brothers Racing of Santa Barbara, CA (builders of the CJStroker in Diesel Tech, Volume 1, Issue 2, page 32) put together a complete bottom end with a Wide Open Performance main girdle and Crower billet rods that would stand up to the abuse from the 2-stage Nitrous Express progressive nitrous kit Dillehay would be using. That's not everything though-the rest of the motor got a full treatment of improved aftermarket parts as well. The build included Mahle ceramic-coated pistons, ARE Performance high flow heads, Comp Cams beehive valve springs, Crower push rods and a Wide Open Performance fire ring set. The stiffer valve springs and push rods will allow the motor to run at higher rpm's without having issues of valve slap on the topsides of the pistons. The Wide Open fire ring kit is designed to keep the heads and block sealed at the highest of boost levels.

Fuel And Air System

With a good sturdy short block put together it was time to address the fuel and air systems. Running huge Dynomite Diesel Stage V injectors, some of the biggest injectors built for these 7.3L motors, a big high flowing turbocharger was needed to ensure all that fuel would be burned. Dillehay got together with the guys at Black Widow Diesel in Center Point, IA their expertise in the Powerstroke industry directed Dillehay to Turbonetics. Turbonetics has been one of the leaders in turbocharger technology for some time and had plenty of options for the now dedicated drag truck Dillehay was building. It was decided that the T4 turbo system and Turbonetics Super 76 turbo would be the perfect fit for the truck. It took some work to get that large huffer under the hood of the Ford but Dillehay says it was worth the work. The charger has held up to his every expectation.

The exhaust expelled from the 7.3L runs through bored out and ceramic-coated stock manifolds into a free flowing straight piped system and out through a single 6-inch miter cut stack. A Spearco intercooler and Hypermax water injection system is used to keep egts safe on the strip. With this amount of fuel even the largest of turbochargers need a little help combating EGTs. ITP Diesel of Phoenix, AZ supplied the fuel system improvements with a 5/8-inch in tank pickup tube, along with upgraded feed lines and fuel pump. The stock fuel system is nowhere enough to supply a sufficient amount of diesel to the new injectors. Oil is supplied to the injectors through a Terminator Engineering dual high-pressure oil system, which helps ensure proper fuel atomization. A stock oil pump is not nearly capable of supplying enough oil pressure the Stage V injectors. TTS Powersystems supplied the knowledge and computer tuning to ensure the perfect programming for the best track results possible. Tweaks in the tuning continue to be made, looking for every bit of horsepower out of this combination of parts. Not only is maximum horsepower needed to keep those times down at the track, but transmission shift strategies need to be addressed as well.

With numbers right at 600 hp on diesel only and more than 725 hp on nitrous, getting all that power to the ground presented the next challenge. Dillehay called John Wood and had him build a complete transmission using his own custom torque converter and all billet shafts. The TS Performance ReSpeed is used to recalibrate the speedometer and Wide Open sent the cal tracs which are used out back to keep the rear tires planted on even the hardest of launches. And to bring everything to a stop at the end of the track Dillehay uses SSBC 8-piston calipers from Black Widow Diesel.

At this point the truck was ready to rock and was definitely set up to be a serious competitor on the drag race circuit. With a personal best of 12.27 at 113 mph, this maroon Ford was a contender at every event it attended this past year. When the smoke cleared and the 2007 DHRA racing season was over Dillehay walked away with first place in the DHRA Quick Diesel class in Surprise, AZ, while a third place trophy was brought home from the races at Bandimiere Raceway in Colorado.

The Big Prize

But the biggest accomplishment of Dillehay's season came from the DHRA event in Houston, TX, where he was crowned champion of the DHRA East vs. West shootout, cemen ting his place up top as the West Coast and the national points champion.

Dillehay thanks Dennis Perry of TS Performance, Black Widow Diesel, Turbonetics, Spearco, John Wood Transmissions, DP Tuner, Dynomite Diesel Performance, Terminator Engineering,, ARE Performance, TTS Power Systems and Andy's Automotive for helping him and his truck get to where they are today.

With many tough competitors competing at DHRA events all across the country, Dillehay had his work cut out for him, especially piloting a Powerstroke.

Congratulations are in order because those who follow racing know it doesn't come easy. Dillehay says his goals now are to be the next full size Ford to run consistently in the 11s while being one of the few Powerstokes that can be competitive with the Cummins and Duramax guys.

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