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High Performance Diesels
Rookie experiences truck drags

Holding the engine at 2500 rpm, slightly nervous, I eased out the clutch on the last yellow light with a reaction time of .860. I was on my way with the tachometer buried at 3500 rpm. Starting out in sixth gear, I pulled the shifter as fast as I could (remembering the days of my Hurst shifter) into seventh gear. With that 3500-rpm shift, I felt the old Pete leap a full truck length on the truck beside me. My motor was mashed, the tach bouncing on 3500, turbo boost was in excess of 40 psi, 480 pounds of fuel pressure, Liberator mufflers screaming. My adrenaline was flowing as fast as the black smoke was rushing from the twin stacks. I was high on life and turned a time of 17.90 at a speed of 78.53 mph.

I was driving a single-axle 359 Pete with an NTC Cummins engine producing about 800 horsepower, 3:42 Rockwell rears and a 9-speed direct transmission owned by OOIDA member Joe Seaman of Eldridge, MO. On Aug. 18, Joe was very gracious and offered his Pete to me to race. I have never drag raced a Class 8 truck, only Corvettes, so with a few lessons from Joe I made two time-trial runs. It’s been 30 years since I sat in front of a Christmas tree to watch the lights descend from yellow to green.

I couldn’t stop with just one run, so Joe let me take a second race. The 4300 IHC in the left lane was driven by a gentleman who doesn’t like to lose. His name is Ray Cross, and he’s been racing for 17 years. Ray is from Lancaster, SC, and purchased his International brand new in 1979. Ray is good, but what he didn’t know was the rookie in Joe’s Pete has no room in his vocabulary for second place. Again, when I pulled that shifter into seventh gear I knew I had my second victory. With a time of 17.64 seconds and a speed of 80.36 mph, I was reluctant to give Joe back his truck. I’m ready to build an “A” model Kenworth with a KTA Cummins engine for drag racing and sled pulling.

The date was Aug. 18 and the place was the Quaker City raceway in Salem, OH, for the first time ever “Diesel Drags.” The event was promoted by my friend Joe and his wife, Betty Jo Seaman.

It was a beautiful day and 77 trucks came to drag race. Smith Transport of Roaring Springs, PA, stole the show with their highly modified 12V71 Detroit Diesels. Jeff Musselman, driving the Tornado I cabover, turned in a time of 13.54 at 107.92 mph. Galen Hoover drove the Tornado II conventional Pete for the fastest time of 12.97 at 105.39 mph. These two trucks ran side by side doing awesome burnouts filling the staging area with white tire smoke.

My hat’s off to Barry Smith of Smith Transport for quite a showing and display he has put together for semi-truck drag racing.

CFI of Joplin, MO, was there with their T-2000 Kenworth powered by two Signature 600 Cummins engines. Driver Mike Goucher ran for a time of 13.44 at 107.92 mph. This truck makes absolutely no smoke.

Now on to the working class trucks. OOIDA member Sonny Trapp of Linthicum, MD, took home first-place prize money with his ’86 cabover Freightliner powered by a twin turbo NTC 475 Cummins engine that produces 900 plus hp. Diesel Injection of Pittsburgh supplied the parts, and the engine was assembled by Willie of Diesel Rite, Brooklyn Park, MD. Sonny’s time was 15.17 and 86-87 mph.

Sonny has 16 tri-axle dumps and five tractors in his small fleet. His trucks are extremely clean and neatly detailed. Sonny’s daughter Jodi drives a 1999 Peterbilt tri-axle dump powered by an NTC 750HP Cummins, also from Diesel Injection of Pittsburgh and Diesel Rite. This truck was built from a glider kit. Jodi stands 5 feet tall and weighs 100 pounds and doesn’t mind taking a day off from driving to get her nails done. The Trapp family brought 15 people to the track from Maryland to watch the races. A true racing family. If there were two words to describe Sonny Trapp it would be clean and consistent.

Second place went to avid weekend drag racer Billy Prest of New Brighton, PA. Billy drives an A model Kenworth with a 400 Cummins engine.

Third place went to Bobby Springer of Aliquippa, PA. Bobby’s truck is a 1976 Freightliner conventional powered by another NTC 1000 plus Cummins engine. Diesel Injection of Pittsburgh supplies the parts and Bobby does the wrenching. This truck is a sled puller and won first place in Butler, PA, the previous week. Bobby Springer is a great competitor. He owns five trucks and started wrenching on the trucks at age 6 with his grandfather. When Bobby hooks into the sled he tightens the chain, then slowly rolls his right foot to the floor. The tach is buried past 3500 rpm. When the engine starts to shutter from excessive rpm he slowly releases the clutch and he is on his way for one wild ride with the left front tire 12 inches in the air. This man is a real crowd pleaser at the local western Pennsylvania truck pulls.

The same weekend (Aug. 17) we attended the New Castle Pennsylvania Farm Show and Semi Truck Pull, and witnessed total domination by the KTA 1150 cubic-inch Cummins engine. This engine was first released by Cummins in 1974 at 450 hp and soon grew to 525 and 600 hp. Today, it’s still being produced by Cummins for earth-moving equipment. It’s a truck puller’s dream come true.

Doc Snyder, of Snyder Farms, took first place driving his KTA series Cummins Peterbilt called “Mr. Nasty.” Aimee Lindsay finished in second place, also driving a KTA in a Peterbilt, and Pat Riggle of Riggle Trucking in Apollo, PA, finished third in a KTA-powered Kenworth.

My very good friend, Jerry Hairhoger, an OOIDA member from Wampum, PA, came to pull for the first time in his 1973 extended-hood double bunk KTA-powered Kenworth. Unfortunately, his clutch would not hold the 1200 hp produced by his KTA Cummins. We hope to see Jerry back with a stronger clutch. Jerry is the Godfather of high-performance trucks in western Pennsylvania.

Update on Liberator Mufflers: I have installed two Liberator mufflers on my T-600 Kenworth that is powered by an 840 CPL 350 producing 500 hp. My first run was from Pittsburgh to Indianapolis. The sound is awesome. It’s very deep and throaty. Cruising at 70 mph, this truck runs effortlessly. The boost gauge is 2 PSI lower, which means 32 hp less is required to move the load. Once I get to Denver I will have a fuel mileage report. My personal feeling is this muffler is causing a venturi at the top of the unit and sucking the exhaust out of the engine. I will have another report in my next column.

Next issue: I’ll be writing about the 5.9 liter B and the 8.3 liter C series Cummins engines.

My booklet is now available for viewing or download on the Internet. The address is Our e-mail address is as follows: Gary: Pete: If you would like our booklet on high performance Cummins diesels give Aimee a call at (724) 274-4080. There is a $9 charge for shipping and handling. Just call us with your Master Card, Visa, AMX or Discover card number and we will get one out to you. Or send us a check or money order to Diesel Injection of Pittsburgh, 1403 Freeport Rd., Cheswick PA, 15024

The above column is the opinion of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the opinions or beliefs of Land Line Magazine or Cummins Engine Co.