From Street Roller To Sled Puller

Published in the June 2013 Issue June 2013

For most diesel owners, their truck is more of the ultimate multi-tool than a simple commuter. Each driver is different, but the diesel truck’s seemingly endless list of capabilities easily fits into any lifestyle. Whether it be on the drag strip or the workhorse that gets the job done, a diesel won’t be held back or told it can’t do something. For Ryan Burris and his 2005 GMC Sierra ECSB, challenging the limits of what is possible for a diesel is just another day on the job. By day, the Duramax spends its time at the farm, rising early with Burris to start the day towing its gooseneck trailer from the house to the barn. Anything that Burris needs done requires the strength and pulling power that only a diesel engine can provide. By night, however, the Duramax takes on a whole new set of challenges. In the starburst light of the arena, the rhythmic growling of engines are met with the thick screen of black smoke pluming from the stacks, as diesel trucks go pound for pound at the sled pull. Burris’ laborious lifestyle demanded a truck to keep up the pace, and his ‘05 Sierra had the solution.

Great Power

Burris takes hard work to new levels and needed a truck to keep up with his neck-breaking pace. Working for the Department Of Defense throughout the week, he needs a reliable platform to become his daily commuter. A lot of vehicles could easily take care of this, but Burris had ulterior motives for his choice of vehicle. When the day’s work is done, he makes his way back through the meandering back country roads of Loogootee, Ind., as he heads back to his farm, where innumerable tasks demand a truck fit for heavy labor.

“I decided on the Duramax because it would be my only truck,” says Burris. “Living on the farm, I could haul seed one day, and livestock the next. I have a gooseneck trailer that needs to make its rounds everyday as well, so I needed something built to do the work.”

Burris picked up his Duramax back in November and the practicality and luxury that the diesel offered was exactly what he needed to get the job done. But this wasn’t the only reason he went with the truck. Living in Loogootee, Burris found that he “set up shop” in diesel country, with an emphasis on sled pulling. Scattered throughout the country, some places have diesel in their blood, and Loogootee and the surrounding areas were right in the heart of it.

From Day One

Knowing there was greater potential for his Duramax, Burris began to give it the necessary performance to compete in the sled pull and with an Associates degree in Diesel Heavy Machinery, he started his project build the day he bought the truck. The first priority was to get the performance that he himself couldn’t do out of the way. So a short trip to Danville Performance, located in Danville, Ind., for an EFILive DSP-5 tune, and a 2.5-inch Stage 2 Danville turbo were checked off. After that, however, Burris continued with the rest of the work on his own.

“Friends come over to help when they can, but I’ve done all of the work at the house,” says Burris. “I’m looking to do a complete sled rebuild on the motor down the road, so I have just done what I can right now. I’ve been trying to make my way into every sled pull that I find, and without an engine rebuild, you’re just at the sled pull for fun. It gets competitive really quick, and I’m in it to win.”


Burris continued his performance upgrades with an AEM Brute Force intake, All Seasons Diesel Y bridge and boost pipes. The power of the Duramax was at a steady increase, but was nowhere near what was needed to satisfy Burris. When he bought the truck, it came to him completely stock, and now that he found his passion at the sled pull, more performance was at the top of his list. Next install was a Banks intercooler, which decreased the exhaust gas pressure and gave Burris the capability to increase his fuel rate, giving him more power. In order to increase the fuel rate, he also installed an Exergy Performance 10mm Stroker CP3 fuel pump and Exergy Performance 45 percent over injectors. The addition gave his LLY incredible fuel delivery, adding nearly 81 percent more fuel volume and increasing the power of the engine across the RPM range.

While his fuel delivery was already vastly increased, fuel performance during a sled pull is critical, and feeling the need for a little more, Burris was back in the garage with a couple more installs to peak out his power. He installed PPE ported fuel rail fittings, and to make sure that he could push the diesel through all of the high performance installs, he fitted in a FASS Titanium 150 gallon per hour pump and upgraded his tank with a Danville Performance tank mod. For the last performance install, he added in ARP head studs and GM grade C head gaskets. The pulling power of the Duramax had reached high and, meeting Burris’ expectations, it was time for a little aesthetic work.

Suited Up

All of the power that was put into the Duramax demanded a couple of eye pleasing additions that would draw in the crowd. Burris installed a set of ISSPRO EV2 gauges to keep track of the new power that he had put into the engine, then added an MBRP 5-inch exhaust system. A new set of tires were necessary, so BF Goodrich all-terrain tires were wrapped around Dale Jr rims, giving the necessary grip on the dirt for both his time at the farm and on the strip. In order to prevent negative rotation of the rear axles, Checkered Racing traction bars were installed and to add a little flair, a roll pan and custom pulling hitch were installed. These few additions to the exterior of the Duramax were all that were necessary for the truck to do the kind of work that Burris asked of it.

From start to finish, the performance overhaul on the 2005 GMC Sierra only took 5 months and today the truck sits at 689.2 hp and 1250 ft/lbs. of torque. Burris had a set of needs for the truck he went with and the Duramax engine supplied everything that he could ask for. In the future, he plans on fitting in new axles, a set of clutch plates, and a set of front Eaton ELocker differentials to finish off his list of performance upgrades. What began as a workhorse at the farm, took on superhero properties and became one of the strongest sled pulling machines found throughout Indiana. And what started as a necessary tool for everyday life, became an insatiable passion for diesel power.

  • Like what you read?

    Want to know when we have important news, updates or interviews?

  • Join our newsletter today!

    Sign Up
You Might Also Be Interested In...

Send to your friends!