Pulling Your Weight

Moonlight keeps it in the family

January 2019 Cummins, Feature

Moonlight Madness

Owner: Ryan Thain

2006 Dodge 5.9L Cummins Mega Cab 3500


Ryan Thain admits he has diesel in his blood. Diesel trucks have always been a part of his life. He was born and raised that way. Ryan and his brother, Terry Thain, would often attend truck pulls together. So it didn’t take much effort to convince Ryan to enter his own truck about six months after he purchased it new in December 2005.

“Having the brother I have, I was making modifications to it as soon as I got it home from the dealer,” Ryan explained. “I took it to the Tremonton, UT, event in July 2006, and took first in my class.”

That pretty much hooked him into the sport. “I started taking it to more events and it wasn't long before I had made the truck into a dedicated puller,” he explained. Ryan pointed out that Moonlight Madness isn’t your ordinary diesel truck that has been rebuilt and converted to a pull truck. It only has 16,000 original miles on it.

When Ryan first started pulling, Moonlight Madness was pretty basic. “I pulled in what eventually turned into the 2.6 class,” he said. But the competitive juices were flowing and he wanted more power and performance.

“I took off the 2012 season and we rebuilt the truck into a 3.2 class truck,” he said. “The 3.2 class was a compound turbo class with a 3.2-inch limit on the atmosphere turbo and DOT tires,” he explained.

Ryan said he was scrambling to get his truck ready for the final pull of the season—Weekend on the Edge.

“With some temporary stuff thrown on (like a Coleman cooler for an ice box strapped to the weight box), we were able to get to Weekend on the Edge to get a test in,” he explained. “We ended up winning that night.”

 Before long Ryan could see the 3.2 class going away. “So in 2014 I decided to get a couple cut tires and bump up to the top class (Pro Mod Diesel/Super Stock Diesel) where we are still running today with many changes since 2014,” he said.

Although it is a mod class, Ryan said he still likes his truck to have somewhat of a stock appearance.

“I want it to look good up close inside and out,” he said. “This is probably one of the few Super Stock trucks you will see that still has a full dash and power windows. I know I have a disadvantage in doing that … but so what? I can still jump out of the truck, hit the lock button on my remote, and walk away.”

Moonlight Madness still has all the door panels and headliner as well. “I removed them once,” he explained, “but it looked silly so I put it all back in.’

Ryan has since become a mainstay in the pulling circuit. The United Truck and Tractor Pullers is club-owned. All officials are voted in each year. “I was asked if I was interested in running for president (of the association) a few years back,” he explained. “I decided to do so … and apparently I do an okay job because they keep voting me back in.”

Ryan said his life has gotten fairly busy and he really doesn’t have a lot of time to prepare for events. It’s nice to have Moonlight Diesel (owned by his brother Terry) to support him in keeping his truck in shape.

“With being president now of United Truck and Tractor Pullers, I really don't have time anymore to prepare,” he said. “I have time to get it slightly warmed up and full of ice, make my run, and get back to my job. Late at night when the show is over, I finally get a minute to get the truck loaded and take a quick glance at the data logs.”

Terry Thain does the tuning. Brian Winward, a technician at Moonlight Diesel, does a lot of the wrenching. But neither Ryan, Terry nor Brian would go into a lot of detail as to the tricks they have to make Moonlight Madness so successful.

Ryan explained that keeping a pull truck competitive is never-ending. “Right now we are putting some parts into the engine that aren't exactly what we want but due to availability and the time crunch to get it on the track, it will have to do,” he explained. “We do have plans to start building a new drive train as my budget allows. There is always something new or a new idea so the modifications don't ever seem to end.”

Although Ryan has since purchased newer diesel trucks, he has no intention to retire Moonlight Madness any time soon. “As a puller, Moonlight Madness has made a name for herself and I have no intentions of replacing the ol’ gal,” he said. “However, many of the things under the hood have been replaced.”  

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