OUT OF THE WOODWORK
Small town event that kicks off the pull season
It's late spring in the Midwest. The corn and soybeans have been planted, the wet season is over, and temperatures are on the rise— it's time to go pulling. For seven consecutive years, dozens of trucks, tractors, and semis have descended on the small town of Virginia, Illinois, for the Cass County Truck and Tractor Pull. Held on the first Saturday in June, it serves as the “unofficial” first hook of the year for competitors in the greater central Illinois area. And while not all classes carry points, many pullers use the opportunity to get a test hit or two out of their new combinations.
Promoted, organized, and operated by Hammer Down Diesel Performance (a shop in nearby Jacksonville), the small town event brings out some of the strongest running trucks in the region. The Work Stock class attracts a host of 650 to 800hp, purpose-built yet streetable trucks; an anything goes Open category pits high-horsepower diesels and gassers against each other; and a Factory Turbo class allows mildly modified daily drivers, tow rigs, and beginners to compete. Then there is the crowd favorite: the street-legal semi class, where you never know which big-rig will drag the sled out the back door.
Follow along over the next few pages for a full recap of this year's show. And should you find yourself in the greater west-central Illinois area next June, make a pit stop in Virginia. This is one of the more laidback truck pulls in the Midwest and a great opportunity to catch some amazing pulling action in a low-key environment. UDBG
This is what 1,800+ hp looks like. The Cummins that graces Daniel Whalen’s Dodge was built by Flynn’s Shop in Alexander, Illinois, using a host of Scheid Diesel parts. The cast-iron 6.7L block is filled and deck-plated, the 12-valve cylinder head is about as worked over as it gets, and one of Scheid’s 14mm P-pumps is employed. Topping things off is a 3.6-inch smooth bore turbocharger from Hart’s Diesel. All told, the engine cleared north of 1,800 hp on Scheid’s engine dyno.
In the Open class, hanging front weights, compound turbo arrangements and/or big singles, and nitrous were allowed. As for turnout, eight trucks (seven of them diesel) would make the call, and Jeremy Hayes’ second-gen is shown here clawing its way through the dirt.
One of the nastier trucks to compete in the Open class was this GMC Sierra 3500 dually owned by Kevin Dermody. Rumor has it that a full Wagler-built Duramax lives under the hood, and the truck definitely ran like it. Dermody would take the runner-up position in the Open class (behind Daniel Whalen’s 1,800hp Pro Stock Dodge). The truck is tuned by Starlite Diesel and sports a nitrous bottle mounted to the floor in the cab... although Dermody competed on fuel alone.
Although Morgan Primm planned to run a 2.6-inch smooth bore turbo for most of the summer (in a newly created local Pro Street Diesel Truck class), he decided to throw a 3.0-inch charger on his 6.4L Power Stroke for the Virginia, Illinois, event and run the Open class. Unfortunately, what looked to be a heck of a pass wasn’t meant to be due to the 5R110 automatic upshifting when it wasn’t being commanded to. Primm told us a PCS controller would likely be employed to solve the problem.
From what we could see, the track appeared a tad loose on the start but tacky in the middle. Get a load of this 10-foot bedded second-gen, which nearly drifted sideways at the 150-foot mark midway through the running of the Open class.
Although hopping issues hampered his best efforts to find traction, Nic Hill’s sleek-appearing ’14 F-350 would still take Eighth Place in the Work Stock field. The late-model Ford has been fitted with a dual fueler kit (belt-driven CP3 in addition to the factory CP4.2), a Streetmaxr turbo from Midwest Diesel and Auto, and cranks out roughly 650 rwhp.
Owen Maul kicked things off in the Work Stock class with his ’06 Silverado and would take the win. His Bow Tie sports a stock bottom end LBZ Duramax that’s likely being subjected to well over 700 hp on a regular basis.
Rules for the Work Stock class prohibited hanging front weights, called for an 8,500-pound weight limit, and required that a stock-appearing turbocharger or an S300-based turbo with a maximum inducer size of 66mm be run. Here, Chance Meyer—a competitor that makes use of the aforementioned S300 rule—tries his hand against the Lowry sled.
A rarity at most truck pulls, passengers are allowed to ride along with competitors (for a nominal fee). Aaron Cully took advantage of this in the Open class, in which his father took over the reigns of his ’05 Silverado while Aaron rode shotgun. Prior to the ride-along pull, Cully turned in a Second Place effort in Work Stock.
Joe Dowson has been competing in the central Illinois area’s Work Stock circuit for several years now. At any given event, his regular cab ’06 Dodge dually is in the hunt for a win. He would take Fourth Place on the day.
Jake Hodel put his ultra-clean GMC through its paces in the Factory Turbo class and wound up in Third Place. His Duramax-powered Sierra would cruise 272 feet before the Lowry sled brought him to a halt.
For years, Sean Christy (and his brother, Nick) have been campaigning this ’08 F-350 in the central Illinois truck pulling region. Despite the front end hopping something fierce, Christy’s battle-tested dually still managed a mid-pack finish in the Factory Turbo class.
Trying his luck in both the Factory Turbo and Work Stock class was Bo Dawson, and he would lay claim to Second Place in the Factory Turbo category. In the Factory Turbo class, it’s not unheard of for Duramax owners to squeeze 600 rwhp out of the stock turbo platform. Competitors who take this class seriously have been known to make use of larger nozzles and a stroker CP3 in order to run at the front.
A Factory Turbo Diesel class served as a great way for newbies or near-stock trucks to try their hand against the sled. The biggest mandate in the class was (obviously) that the turbo(s) were stock. Fuel and tuning changes were allowed, which meant most trucks ranged from 350 hp to roughly 600 hp.
Without question, the S300 rule makes the Cummins-powered Rams competitive in the Work Stock category. As you can imagine, a stock-appearing turbo rule would put the Cummins mills at a considerable disadvantage against all the Duramax and 6.4L Power Strokes in this class. Here, Eric Loy’s ’05 Dodge—equipped with an S366—is in the midst of its Third Place finish in Work Stock.
The Cass County Truck and Tractor pull would serve as Austen King’s first time ever hooking to the sled, and his ’08 F-250 would carry him 270 feet down the track. His factory turbo 6.4L Power Stroke sends more than 550 hp to the wheels thanks to Gearhead Automotive Performance tuning.
It was a busy day of pulling for Mitchell Ruder. After competing in the Factory Turbo class in Virginia, he would load up and haul his ¾-ton Sierra 80 miles north to Knoxville, Illinois, where he grabbed a Second Place finish in a similar class.
It’s always nice to see a brand-new truck hook to the sled, and the stock turbo class certainly afforded Nick Power that opportunity. While his ’17 F-250 Super Duty didn’t pull off the win, the crowd certainly enjoyed the effort.
Thanks to a compoundturbocharged, built Cat C18 dwelling under the hood, Richard Darr’s Peterbilt glider could’ve literally pulled the sled all the way home. After yanking the iron sleigh more than 350 feet, Darr let off the throttle and coasted to a stop.
Everyone loves semis, right? The Cass County Truck and Tractor pull wrapped up with a street-legal semi class—and several trucks proved they were much more than show queens. This Cat-powered, ’85 359 model Peterbilt driven by David Staats stormed down the track, surprising the flagger who had to give chase to try to keep up!