Ingrained into the collective unconsciousness of modern society is the concept of the festival. Just as Woodstock has entered into a unique sphere of American culture, so has the chase to relive and recreate the event. Now, found throughout the country are numerous festivals and gatherings celebrating anything and everything about which people are passionate: Burning Man in Nevada; Sundance Film festival; the National Cherry Blossom Festival in Washington, D.C.; and, for the avid diesel enthusiast, the Scheid Diesel Extravaganza in Terra Haute, Ind.
Late August is a beautiful time to be in Indiana. The weather has stabilized during what is typically known as the hottest month of the year, but thankfully for the cool climes pushing their way south from Canada and off of Lake Michigan, Terra Haute averages a comparatively mild 84 degrees Fahrenheit. Moreover, July marks the end of tornado season, leaving West Central Indiana open and free to enjoy the full days of summer.
Terra Haute is the perfect backdrop to what is one of the largest and most important diesel events in the nation. The entire three-day extravaganza is held on the same property at the nearby fairgrounds.
The Scheid Legacy
Official Scheid Diesel Service Co., Inc. was founded in May of 1982; however, the genesis of the company began five years before then in 1978. Dan Scheid started the company on his family’s farm in Plainville, Ind. Dan’s company was well-received in the community and by 1982 it had grown to five employees and, moving the headquarters, was incorporated.
During the first few years, Scheid Diesel focused on repairing and rebuilding diesel fuel injection pumps, turbos and injectors. Soon, however, Dan found his attention and his interest turn toward tractor pulling and high-performance diesels. Opening a new location in Effingham, Ill., Dan and Mike Wood, the general manager, noted the rapid growth of the personal diesel truck market and expanded the business into the developing market. With this first expansion into the personal diesel truck market, Scheid Diesel began to focus and invest more and more into the industry.
Nuts & Bolts Of The Extravaganza
Perhaps the most important defining feature of the Scheid Diesel Extravaganza is that it is open to everyone who owns and operates a diesel. It is not an exclusive festival for amateur or professional diesel truck owners; rather, the event is open to diesel enthusiasts of all levels.
In the past few years the first two days, Friday and Saturday, are devoted to truck and tractor pulling, which is sponsored by the Lucas Oil Pro Pulling League. From the early morning into the early afternoon, all diesel trucks are invited to qualify so they can compete in the officially-sanctioned events that evening. There are three classes in the truck and track pulling events, including diesel pickups, hot rod semis and multiple divisions of tractors. In addition to the truck and tractor pulls, the morning and early afternoons of all three days of the extravaganza are devoted to Outlaw Drag Racing, presented by TS Performance.
Show and Shine contests are a major attraction of the extravaganza throughout Friday and Saturday, and this year they are presented by the Purdue University Diesel Club. Show and Shine contests are open to all diesel trucks that want to participate. The event draws a lot of different people and crowds, especially diesel enthusiasts to discuss different modifications and upgrades and to learn more about the different options available to personalize and empower a diesel.
One area of the extravaganza is devoted to different and diverse diesel manufacturers. Typically, over 30 companies and producers of all kinds of parts are on display. And one of the best features of the extravaganza is that not only are there parts to buy, there are also mechanic teams on-site willing to instantly install purchased parts. This allows attendees to literally drive in-and-out with their new upgrades in use. In additional to selling their wares, the manufacturers and companies offer seminars on diesels, products to buy or learn more about, and the different modifications and upgrades available for the new and avid diesel enthusiast.
Friday and Saturday dynos will be on-site at the extravaganza once again this year, including a mustang chassis dyno, as well as a dynojet dyno. Both days there will be prizes awarded to the highest horsepower on both dynos and then on Sunday a burnout contest is scheduled, which is always a crowd pleaser.
Since last year’s event, Scheid has invested a great sum of capital into the 2014 Scheid Diesel Extravaganza, including collecting over $85,000 in prize money for the different winners and champions of the different events. Scheid has also improved the Terra Haute fairgrounds to accommodate the Scheid Diesel Extravaganza, resurfacing the drag strip at the Crossroads Dragway, investing more than $200,000 in total improvements. Moreover, the popular 9- by 12-foot big screen was added last year to the starting line of the pulls and will be returning this year.
Knowing everything about the Scheid Diesel Extravaganza and Terra Haute, however, does not prepare someone for the experience of being there. Upon arriving at the parking lot of the fairgrounds, you’ll see nothing but diesel trucks, as far as the eye can see. Everything from bone stock trucks to wild and extravagant modifications to both the appearance and the performance of the truck can be found.
Once funneled through the entrance, you’ll see the entire extravaganza stretching onward, lost in a horizon of people and diesel. Manufactures are off in one corner with their booths and their portable garages, ready to serve anyone interested. Off in a different direction is the raceway for the drag races and the pulls. Elsewhere the diesels are lined up for the Show and Shine.
Behind the fairgrounds are large sprawling campgrounds for people to camp, meet new truck owners, and, more importantly, keep the festival alive long after the official events have closed for the evening. In addition, there are plenty of hotel rooms in town for those who plan early.
However, perhaps even infamously, one of the most impressive aspects of the Scheid Diesel Extravaganza is the after party after the close of the venue on Sunday night. Diesel trucks stretch out to the endless horizon, with music and good times, as the diesel lifestyle is celebrated.
This August marks the 18th annual Scheid Diesel Extravaganza and it is sure to be the biggest and best extravaganza to date.