The Wastegate

Racing = Small Interest, Big Impact

Published in the December 2008 Issue December 2008 Column Ryan Harris

Racer truck

2008 is nearly in the can. This marks DT's first full calendar year in production, and my first full dozen months in the diesel industry. It's been a good year. Mostly because my truck still runs, but that only means that I've had to fill it with $4.60 fuel four times a month. So maybe we outdid ourselves on that one.

But 2008 also marked another first for me-sled pulling. I remember watching sled pulling on TV late at night on TNN when I was a kid. It looked fun then. It looked more fun last May in Indianapolis at the DHRA Fass Diesel Nationals. Watching street-driven trucks pull that sled down a 350-foot dirt track with black smoke barreling out of the exhaust was more than enough to make me want to go home and beat the hell out of my own truck in a similar fashion. (Funny though, watching the drag racing didn't have the same effect. I guess I got lost in trying to figure out why the slow guy kept winning.)

But sled pulling has given me a whole new respect for diesel trucks and their owners. Where else will you see a non-sponsored individual drive his personal truck (the one he relies on to get to work Monday) hundreds of miles to an event, just to put it in 4-low, hook onto a 40,000 pound sled and hammer the throttle for 250-plus feet? Trust me, I know guys with fast cars and they'd never do anything like that with them.

Just thinking about all of the moving parts that could break at any given time during a pull should send chills up your spine. But somehow, these trucks come through it just fine and return to the next event to do it again.

In a way, it's a statement of how well these trucks are built, both from a manufacturing standpoint and from a modification standpoint. Some of these trucks, like Matt Moon's Duramax, are putting out over 700 horsepower to the rear wheels (proven at the Weekend on the Edge event in September) on a fuel-only run down the dirt track. Matt drives the truck to work every day, too (usually with a fat payout check from the weekend's competition).

Now, I realize that there is a small percentage of diesel pickup owners that follow or have an interest in competitive forms of racing. However, I have also seen firsthand how the products that wind up on a concrete contractor's play truck get tested and proven at the race track.

Just as with other forms of motorsports that our parent company covers, racing is rarely the majority of readership interest, but it plays a much larger role in the industry than people give it credit for.

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