Driving across the country, through baron flats of Wyoming, over the rolling hills of Nebraska, sometimes pushing through winds that resulted in six miles per gallon in a single tank of fuel. Stopping every 275 miles for another $130 worth of diesel and a bathroom break. Switching off drivers in the middle of the night and trying to catch 10 minutes of sleep here and there with their head leaned up against a door window. The guys at Wide Open Performance are dedicated, and for what?
Well, just one of the biggest diesel events in the country-that's what. Dennis and Sheila Perry, owners of TS Performance in Bowling Green, KY, have a love for diesel motorsports like some we've never seen. Their love for drag racing extends far beyond just having a few fast trucks. It goes much deeper than that and because of it they host one of the best diesel events of the season every April in their hometown of Bowling Green.
The TS Outlaw Drag Race and Sled Pull was held April 28 and surpassed everyone's expectations for a great time. With competitors traveling from all over the nation, it definitely turned out to be a weekend you didn't want to miss. TS Performance went to great lengths to ensure the biggest of the baddest would be there to compete, making for a great show.
The event kicked off Friday with an open house gathering at the home of TS Performance. The Perrys invited everyone to the shop for some great food, some dyno time and a chance to meet some aftermarket product companies on vendor alley. More than that, the open house offered the opportunity to hang out with hundreds of fellow diesel freaks: a great time to talk diesel and just enjoy the association and conversation with people with the same love for diesel performance.
Saturday's events started out at the Beech Bend Raceway Park where hundreds of diesel truck owners gathered for a little side-by-side drag racing. The quarter-mile drag strip had been prepped and was ready for some black smoke, rubber-burning trucks to match up for a few hours of awesome racing. TS had the races set up just like other diesel events with an E/T bracket, 12.0 index Quick Diesel, Pro Street, Pro Mod and Pro Dragster classes-making for a class for just about everyone.
As usual, the E/T bracket class showed the most competitors since this is the class for your average daily driver and diesel truck owner. This class allows for every blue-collar average guy to show off what his pickup can do. Dodge, GM, and Ford were well represented with plenty of fast trucks from each. The best part about the E/T class is it doesn't take the fastest truck to win it, just the most consistent. You'll see just about everything in this class. There were plenty of Common Rail Dodges, some nice running Duramax trucks, and even an Excursion making some passes.
One truck in particular that caught our eye was a newer model Cummins. We noticed it running in the E/T bracket class as well as the 12.0 index class. This particular red crew cab truck was decked out from top to bottom with fancy wheels and a complete head-to-toe airbrushed paint scheme. After about the third pass down the track we realized it was Sheila Perry's personal daily driver. Some head studs, a TS Performance box and some nitrous in those newer Common Rail 5.9L engines makes for a mean street setup and the 11.80 E/T passes prove that. Definitely not a woman or truck we'd recommend messing with at the stop light; try explaining that story to your buddies.
The real eye catcher for the audience had to be the Cummins powered dragster from the guys at Sheid Diesel. When you build a 12V Cummins motor, put some enormously huge compounded turbos on it and a really worked over injection pump, it's going to make an insane amount of power. Then take that power plant and bolt it into a 300-inch wheelbase rear engine mount dragster chassis and you're bound to make some undeniably fast quarter times. The Sheid dragster ran consistently all day long in the 7.1-7.2 second range at 192-193 mph. It ran its best pass at 7.0 seconds and 195 mph. Yeah, that's fast. Talk about a showstopper. Not only is its blistering fast quarter-mile run fun to watch, but the burnout before each pass is enough to make the hair on the back of your neck stand up. It's impressive.
The events at the drag strip weren't limited to just drag racing only, though, with a Show-n-Shine contest and David Dunbar's dyno on hand. There were quite a few trucks run on the rollers throughout the day with plenty of impressive numbers. There were two Ford Super Duty trucks equipped with some worked over Cummins motors that definitely surprised all of us. One hit the charts at just over 1200 hp and the other well over 1300 hp. Who would've thought a Ford could make those kind of numbers? Perhaps all it takes is a little of Dodge's heart and soul. Another standout on the dyno was a brand new 2008 Ford 6.4L Power Stroke that laid down just a tick over 600 hp. Not bad for an emissions-friendly, EPA-certified diesel burner, huh?
After the events at the drag strip had wrapped up, the attention and crowd made the drive down the road to the Bowling Green Fairgrounds where the sled pull would be held. Turns out that sled pulling is where it's at in the South. As exciting as the drag racing was during the day, the crowd was in town for the sled pulls and this became apparent as we started the walk through the parking lot. After walking through what seemed like 100 acres of diesel pickups fully equipped with mud tires and stacks, we found ourselves entering one of the biggest sled-pulling extravaganzas we've ever seen.
We didn't get a chance to hear the final numbers on competitors or spectators, but last we heard more than 170 trucks hooked to the sled in just over seven hours' time. That's right, seven hours of hot-rod diesel trucks dragging a huge paperweight through the dirt, making for one of the most fun shows a diesel addict could attend. It's been said that a sled-pulling track is where the real muscle and horsepower in the diesel industry is proven. It takes a combination of horsepower, torque and traction to get that kind of weight moving. If you thought diesel drag racing was getting popular these days, attend a sled pull in the South--the TS Outlaw Sled Pull in particular. They had more than 4,700 spectators pass through the gates to watch the pulls that night. Not only is it one of the biggest pulls we've ever attended, it's one of the biggest diesel anything we've ever attended. The folks at TS Performance did an outstanding job promoting the event and did an even better job at hosting it.
After having the opportunity to attend the TS Outlaw event we think it's safe to say we'll be back year after year. It also made it easy to see why guys like those at Wide Open Performance would travel more than 1,600 miles to compete. And even though Wide Open didn't win any trophies or prize money, we're sure if you were to ask them if they'll be back next year they won't hesitate to answer, "You better believe it."
We'd highly suggest putting next year's TS Outlaw Event on your list of things to do next spring. You won't be disappointed.