Diesels On The Mountain

Hat Trick

June 2014 Brady L. Kay

A hat trick in sports is defined as the achievement of a positive feat three times or more during a game, or other achievements based on threes. For Colter Hess and Dan Lee the feat wasn’t attending a sled pull, dyno competition and a truck-only drag race all in the same weekend, but actually using their daily driver trucks to compete in all three.

Each summer ATS Diesel Performance in Colorado organizes its Diesels On The Mountain Truck Fest to create an action-packed weekend like no other. Things kicked off on a Friday night at the Adams City Fairgrounds in Brighton with an NSPA-sanctioned sled pull. The National Sled Pullers Association is a Colorado-based regional association that promotes the sport of truck and tractor pulling. This was the sixth year for NSPA and the biggest turnout of trucks to date at this pull.

On this warm August night there were 73 hooks, including 25 in the Work Stock class. And like the number of trucks participating, the crowds at this event continue to grow each year as well. In fact, you know business is good when the gate runs outs of wristbands and has to start stamping attendees’ hands for admission.

The Pulls

Lee started the night off right with a full pull of 329.42 feet in his 1999 Ford Power Stroke in the Work Stock class. His run edged out the nearest truck by just over 8 feet, giving Lee his first-ever win. This was not only his first win, but it was also the first time a 7.3L had won the Work Stock class at this event, according to his friend Hess.

“Dan is a great guy and he’s one of the first people that started talking to me at the races because he’s so easy going,” recalls Hess. “I remember seeing his 7.3L and thinking he was crazy trying to compete with the Duramax and Cummins engines, but I was impressed with his determination. I helped him fix his truck a few times and then it got to the point where I felt like I needed to help him win. I was nearly as happy for him when he won, which doesn’t seem possible considering how excited he was.”

After the last truck in this class had pulled and Lee realized he had won, he immediately began celebrating and the first person he ran over to was his friend Hess.

“If it weren’t for Colter I wouldn’t have a trophy; it’s as simple as that,” says Lee. “It’s not easy competing with these newer trucks, but Colter kind of took me under his wing a few years ago and really helped me.”

Both Lee and Hess were doing double-duty on this night as they flagged and unhooked the sled for NSPA, only stopping to take a break when it was their turn to pull.

Street Stock

In this region Hess and his Dodge are well-known in the pull world. When he originally bought his diesel bone stock, he immediately had plans to modify it to be a pull truck. He wanted a long bed, extended cab, manual transmission and of course a Cummins engine.

“I know 12 valves are great, but just the ease of the computer as a daily driver is what I liked about this truck,” says Hess. “Being a diesel mechanic, I was able to build everything myself and get it just the way I wanted it.”

Originally from Illinois, Hess now lives in Colorado and he moved up to the 2.5 Street Stock a few years back and continues to do very well at these pulls. On this night he followed his friend’s lead by also taking first place with a full pull of 300.65 feet, well over 16 feet farther than his closest competitor.    

Hess and Lee have known each other for about five years because of pulling and became close friends about three years ago.

“We pull for the fun, not for the trophies, although Colter could easily fill his truck bed with all of the trophies he’s won,” says Lee. “My wife says I only smile when I’m pulling and that’s probably true. We live for this.” 

The Dyno

The adrenaline from the night before at the truck pulls carried over to the dyno event at the ATS Diesel headquarters in Arvada. Truck owners were given the option to test either inside the facility or outside, which meant the action never slowed down.

Like a lot of diesel enthusiasts, Hess and Lee view the dyno as a way to measure their trucks against themselves, not to be compared to other trucks. Both entered the indoor dyno just to see where their trucks sat and were pleased with the results. Hess recorded 597hp and 1190 ft./lbs. of torque on the ATS dyno with his 2003 Dodge, while Lee with his 1999 Ford reached 429.8hp and 986.7 ft./lbs. of torque.

“I’ve been to a lot of dyno events and I think ATS does a great job,” says Hess. “I like the dyno hospitality room and it seems like they do a good job to make sure more people get involved.”

Adds Lee, “The ATS dyno event is a lot of fun and you get more participants compared to other dynos. They seem to get a better variety of trucks and the people at ATS are just good people. Compared to other events, this one is more laid back and not nearly as intense with less cocky horsepower guys.”

The Drag Race

On Sunday the fun continued as everyone headed to Bandimere Speedway for Truck Fest. Bandimere is celebrating its 55th anniversary this year and the third day event didn’t disappoint. Featuring a packed midway full of exhibitors, there was something for everyone along at the top of the stadium. Down on the track there were several diesel classes, including the big rigs that always create a rumble. 

For a lot of enthusiasts, the drag racing may have been the highlight of the weekend, or at the very least the perfect way to end it. With a variety of trucks on the track, the competition was fierce and at times extremely competitive.

Using their same trucks that had dominated the Friday pulls and put up respectful numbers on the dyno on Saturday, Hess and Lee were back at in on Sunday.

Hess reached 97 mph on his best run in the quarter-mile with a time of 16.1 seconds in his manual-shift Dodge.

“I pushed it hard, but having to manually shift is a disadvantage starting out,” says Hess. “But I’m a puller, so of course the best part of the weekend for me was the pulls. The other events were great just to see what the other trucks were doing, but I enjoyed the pulls on Friday night the best.”

Lee’s best quarter-mile run was 14.2 seconds at 90.3 mph, but the highlight of this day was when his Ford beat his friend’s Dodge head-to-head on the track. Both were eventually knocked out of the semi-finals, but they left satisfied knowing they had completed the Diesels On The Mountain hat trick and had a lot of fun doing it.      

If you weren’t able to participate or attend the 2013 ATS event, start making plans to be in Colorado next year for this action-packed weekend.    

For more information about the products mentioned in this article, please visit our aftermarket.

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