SPRING FLING

The first an­nual Diesel Thun­der spring break

Ultimate Diesel Builder's Guide - - Contents - Text: Kyle Tobin Pho­tog­ra­phy: Amy Gil­bert

Spring Break and Florida have been syn­ony­mous for decades, but Michael Cas­sady has thrown some black smoke and high speeds into the mix by bring­ing his Diesel Thun­der event to the Sun­shine State from Mis­sis­sippi. When long­time Mis­sis­sippi Diesel Thun­der spon­sors Hard­way Per­for­mance and Sun­coast Per­for­mance told Cas­sady about a newly re-open­ing drag­way in the Florida pan­han­dle, the diesel fa­natic knew he’d have a hit on his hands. Around 2,000 peo­ple packed in and around the Emer­ald Coast Drag­way in Holt, Florida, on March 10, 2017, for open test and tune, and Satur­day, March 11, for race day of the first an­nual event. With a dyno and six classes of drag rac­ing ac­tion planned, the crowd was set to re­de­fine the mean­ing of Spring Break.

The Diesel Doc­tor’s por­ta­ble dyno started things off with tow­ers of smoke and the roar of en­gines. The more than 50 en­trants were di­vided into Cum­mins, Du­ra­max and Power Stroke classes, but each truck had a shot at the top Dyno King prize for high­est com­bined horse­power and torque num­bers. Michael Ya­haas took the most pow­er­ful Cum­mins win with 978 horse­power and 1,612 lb-ft of torque. The top Du­ra­max across the rollers was Matthew Jack­son’s at 824 hp and 1,454 lb-ft. And Tony Lee topped out the Power Stroke cat­e­gory with 954 hp and 1,541 lb-ft in his Ford. But Ja­cob Briggs stepped high above the com­pe­ti­tion to claim the cov­eted Dyno King ti­tle when he put down 1,327 hp and 2,265 lb-ft of torque.

Af­ter tour­ing the booths of the many ven­dors, the crowd be­gan to gather at the drag strip as the 68 com­peti­tors in six dif­fer­ent classes started to line up for their chance to hit the strip. The sta­ple of the Sports­man ET bracket class gives many diesel en­thu­si­asts a chance to feel the thrill of drag rac­ing with­out hav­ing a pur­pose-built ve­hi­cle, and the

Diesel Thun­der race was no ex­cep­tion. Ve­hi­cles of all shapes and sizes poured in for the ET class, but the field was even­tu­ally pared down to Joseph Dun­ning­ham and Larry Brown. Larry Brown and his flatbed daily driver all the way from Texas ran a 7.34 on a 7.33 dial-in against Joseph Dun­ning­ham’s 9.12 on an 8.90 dial-in to take home the Sports­man ET class win.

Mov­ing on to the in­dex classes, the 7.70 group was full of en­trants all ready to prove their met­tle. The fi­nal­ists pushed hard for the win in the last round, neck and neck to the end. Austin Wil­son gave up the win with a break­out and Danny El­more’s Power Stroke, dubbed Zom­bie Killer, took the vic­tory. In the 6.70 class, the ma­chines bat­tled their way down to the fi­nal two of Su­san Stump and Jimmy Spinelli. Stump lost when she slept at the light while Spinelli made a 6.83 pass down the eighth mile for the class vic­tory. But Stump’s ’34 Chevy with a Cum­mins heart wasn’t done for the day.

The Pro-mod­i­fied class came down to very dif­fer­ent gen­er­a­tions of classic Chevro­lets, both of which are pow­ered by Cum­mins diesels. Su­san Stump and her matte black and bright pur­ple 1934 Chevy rat rod made it into an­other class fi­nal when she was the only driver to step up as a chal­lenger for the lone Pro-mod. Since the ’34 met the qual­i­fi­ca­tions for the class, she was matched up against Ryan Mil­liken’s bright green and black 1966 Chevy Nova. Sadly, the classic show­down ended with Mil­liken’s Nova trip­ping the red-light be­fore the race be­gan, and Stump was able to take home a win af­ter prov­ing her chops as the only com­peti­tor to make it into two class fi­nals. And of course the crowd lit up as Jared Jones took the Scheid Diesel drag­ster, the only rail en­tered, down the

track at 157 mph in a 4.46 sec­ond pass.

The Pro-street/su­per-street class was a unique hy­brid of two classes that would rarely if ever race each other, but the Su­per-street class re­ally stepped up to the plate. A 0.3-sec­ond hand­i­cap was go­ing to be used for the Su­per-street trucks to bal­ance the scales against the usu­ally faster Pro-street class, but the Su­per-street trucks didn’t have to use it even once. Jimmy Spinelli made it into an­other semi-fi­nal but ended up los­ing to Dustin Jack­son by a mere 0.93 sec­onds. Michael Dal­ton, with his new Pro-street truck, and Jared Ring, a Su­per-street, lined up for their semi-fi­nal round, and Ring punched the throt­tle hard to jump ahead of the bright orange Ram, even af­ter Dal­ton red-lit from the start. But in push­ing hard for the win, Ring put on a light show of sparks and de­bris when his pri­mary turbo shat­tered to pieces around the 60-foot mark. Un­for­tu­nately, but un­sur­pris­ingly, Ring was un­able to piece his ma­chine back to­gether for the Pro-street fi­nale against Dustin Jack­son, so with­out the semi-fi­nal de­fault win­ner af­ter Dal­ton’s red-light, the fi­nal race would end up as a bye-run. De­spite it be­ing a bye-run, though, Jack­son and his triple-turbo Cum­mins-pow­ered Ford Lightning still put on quite a show for the crowd with a 5.40 sec­ond eighth mile drag at 124 mph.

At­tract­ing race en­tries rang­ing from a lit­tle diesel Chevy Cruze sedan all the way up to a ded­i­cated rail-frame diesel-pow­ered drag­ster, Michael Cas­sady and his crew put on quite the show for the fans. As of this year, Spring Break­ers have a new des­ti­na­tion in Florida with the Diesel Thun­der race at the Emer­ald Coast Drag­way roar­ing to life. Even con­sid­er­ing there was a very lim­ited amount of time for pre­par­ing the event, the first an­nual Florida edi­tion of Diesel Thun­der went off with­out a hitch. With the prospect of Cas­sady and com­pany host­ing an even big­ger event next year, we think we know where your next spring va­ca­tion should be. UDBG

Su­san Stump got her Cum­min­spow­ered ’34 Chevy rat rod down to the fi­nals in two classes and took home the win in the Pro-mod di­vi­sion as well as run­ner-up in the 6.70 In­dex class.

Head-to-head bat­tles be­tween pow­er­ful diesel trucks kept fans on their feet through­out the day. This lean and mean Cum­mins was spooled and poised to take on the track. It took three tur­bos and Cum­mins power to get there, but Dustin Jack­son took his Ford Lightning to the top of the Pro-street/ Su­per-street class.

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