ORANGE CRUSH

Michael Dal­ton’s sweet 2012 Ram drag truck

Ultimate Diesel Builder's Guide - - Contents - Text : Chris Tobin Pho­tog­ra­phy: Chris Tobin & Jade Tobin

Michael Dal­ton is the owner of RLC Mo­tor­sports in Cookville, Ten­nessee, and he suc­cess­fully raced an 800hp, street-driven, fourth-gen­er­a­tion Ram 2500 for sev­eral years. The truck was one of the first to run suc­cess­fully at high power with the 68RFE trans­mis­sion thanks to the ex­perts at Sun­coast and it made sev­eral low 11-sec­ond quar­ter-mile passes, tak­ing home win af­ter win in NHRDA and Out­law drag races. But he al­ways wanted to build a 2WD diesel drag truck—so in 2015 he sold the 4WD, pur­chased a 2012 Ram 2500 work truck for $8,000 and drove it while com­ing up with a plan for his dream race truck.

With a game plan in mind he turned to his friends at Wide Open De­sign in Murfrees­boro, Tenn., to part­ner with them on build­ing the chas­sis. While team­ing with a chas­sis shop to build a race ve­hi­cle hap­pens on a reg­u­lar ba­sis, there was a spe­cial twist with this teamup. The crew at WOD is a highly tal­ented group of fab­ri­ca­tors that spe­cial­izes in build­ing off-road com­pe­ti­tion ve­hi­cles, not drag rac­ers— but this team would not let that stop them. Through­out 2016 they built the chas­sis, fo­cus­ing on the sus­pen­sion and mak­ing it as light as pos­si­ble while keep­ing it very strong. The chas­sis is fab­ri­cated from chro­moly tub­ing and meets SFI 25.3 cer­ti­fi­ca­tions.

The build team started with the fac­tory chas­sis, re­mov­ing the cab, bed and driv­e­train be­fore strip­ping it down to bare frame rails and com­pletely re­mov­ing the sus­pen­sion mounts in the front and rear of the frame. They de­cided to chop off most of the front and rear of the frame, leav­ing the sec­tion from the rear of the cab up to the front of the en­gine. For bet­ter weight trans­fer they set the heavy Cum­mins en­gine back 16 inches from the stock lo­ca­tion.

Up front they de­signed the chas­sis to work with Strange Engi­neer­ing spin­dles and coilover struts with cus­tom lower con­trol arms and a Stiletto steer­ing rack to min­i­mize weight and al­low ad­justa­bil­ity where it was needed. Brak­ing up front is han­dled by a set of Strange 11-inch slot­ted ro­tors and 4-pis­ton Strange calipers. The chas­sis also sup­ports the fac­tory steel fend­ers, a sport model bumper and the fac­tory alu­minum hood.

A fully ad­justable four-link setup was im­ple­mented in the rear of the chas­sis to al­low for max­i­mum chas­sis tun­ing abil­ity. A pair of QA-1 dou­ble-ad­justable coilover shocks is used to tame the rear axle as the Ram launches off the line and trav­els down the track. Bor­row­ing from their off-road roots, Dal­ton and the WOD team opted to go with a Spi­der­trax Pro Se­ries fab­ri­cated axle hous­ing with 4-inch axle tubes and Strange spin­dles, 11-inch slot­ted ro­tors and dual 4-pis­ton brake calipers. The Spi­der­trax hous­ing is stuffed with a Strange Engi­neer­ing 9.5-inch Pro Light­weight spool and 9.5-inch Pro Gear ring and pin­ion set and 40-spline gun-drilled axle shafts to get the power to the mas­sive Mickey Thomp­son slicks. The rear of the chas­sis also in­te­grates the mounts for the fac­tory steel sheet metal as well as the cus­tom alu­minum ton­neau cover the WOD team fab­ri­cated.

Mov­ing into the cab, the build team in­te­grated seat mounts for Kirkey alu­minum rac­ing seats on both sides in case Dal­ton ever wants to take along a pas­sen­ger. They also fab­ri­cated a new fire­wall and trans­mis­sion tun­nel to ac­com­mo­date the Cum­mins en­gine and Dodge 48RE trans­mis­sion and the ex­treme set­back they em­ployed when de­sign­ing the truck. Of course there’s also a lot of bent, notched and welded chro­moly tub­ing through­out the cab to en­sure Dal­ton’s safety should things ever go wrong at speed. To al­low the cab to drop down onto the fab­ri­cated chas­sis and roll cage they re­moved the floor, rear window and back wall of the cab and re­placed the window with a tinted Lexan window then fab­ri­cated a bolt in rear fire­wall to keep

the truck safe and le­gal. They also fab­ri­cated alu­minum floor pan­els to com­bat any urge Dal­ton might have to im­i­tate Fred Flint­stone.

The crew at Wide Open also in­te­grated many sets of tabs to mount weights through­out the chas­sis to ad­just for track con­di­tions or to ad­just the truck’s over­all weight to fit within a spe­cific race class. Af­ter the chas­sis was com­pleted they had it pow­der­coated in sil­ver to con­trast well against the bright orange paint Dal­ton had planned for the body. Un­weighted, the com­pleted truck crosses the scales at around 4,000 pounds. It will be set up to race at 4,500 pounds for Pro Street events or they can drop weight be­low 4,400 pounds to run the truck in the Pro Mod class if they de­sire. And with all the steel body pan­els and glass win­dows in the truck, they could drop sev­eral

hun­dred more pounds by swap­ping to Lexan win­dows and fiber­glass body pan­els if Dal­ton gets se­ri­ous about run­ning in the Pro Mod cat­e­gory.

Once the chas­sis was fin­ished, Dal­ton and his build team turned their fo­cus on the en­gine and trans­mis­sion. They chose to stick with a tried-and-true 5.9L Cum­mins com­mon rail en­gine and turned to the team at Don­al­son Diesel Per­for­mance to as­sem­ble it. A fac­tory 5.9L Cum­mins crank­shaft at the heart of the en­gine swings a set of Di­a­mond pis­tons at the end of a set of R&R con­nect­ing rods with a Flu­idamper bal­ancer to keep it spin­ning smoothly. The valves are ac­tu­ated by a Hamil­ton Cams camshaft through chro­moly Hamil­ton pushrods and Hamil­ton valve springs. ARP studs and bolts are used through­out to hold every­thing to­gether. Cool­ing is han­dled by an elec­tric wa­ter pump and a Grif­fin alu­minum ra­di­a­tor along with a Fleece Per­for­mance Engi­neer­ing coolant by­pass kit to equal­ize pres­sure and keep the freeze plugs in the en­gine. The en­gine is capped off with a Cum­mins valve cover that was treated to skull-themed hy­dro-dipped graph­ics by Old­skool­fab.

A single 88mm Gar­rett tur­bocharger is em­ployed to keep the air­flow high and sim­ple. Spent ex­haust gasses from the en­gine are fed to the turbo via a Steed Speed ex­haust man­i­fold then chan­neled out of the hood through a fab­ri­cated stain­less steel pipe. The com­pressed in­take charge leaves the Gar­rett turbo be­fore trav­el­ing through a cus­tom fab­ri­cated boost tube and into a Banks Power intercooler then back out through an­other fab­ri­cated boost tube and into the head through a fab­ri­cated in­take el­bow that is painted bright orange to match the truck.

Of course, with a lot of air avail­able the en­gine will also need a lot of fuel to make good power. Fuel is pumped from the fab­ri­cated WOD fuel cell in the rear of the truck by a 250gph FASS fuel pump and fil­ter sys­tem up to a pair of Fleece Per­for­mance Engi­neer­ing Pow­er­flo stro­ker CP3S with one in the fac­tory Cum­mins lo­ca­tion and the other di­rectly above it us­ing an ATS Diesel dual CP3 mount­ing kit. From there, large vol­umes of high pres­sure fuel are de­liv­ered to a set of 300% over S&S Diesel Mo­tor­sport fuel in­jec­tors where it is sent into the en­gine. Tun­ing is han­dled by Ryan Mil­liken at Hard­way Per­for­mance to max­i­mize the en­gine’s per­for­mance. Dal­ton es­ti­mates that the en­gine

is mak­ing around 1,400 hp and 1,900 lb-ft of torque. He also uses a small shot of nitrous ox­ide to help spool the charger on the line.

To han­dle the en­gine’s power and trans­mit it safely to the rear axle Dal­ton turned to Ron Wolver­ton and his team of trans­mis­sion masters at Sun­coast Diesel. They worked their magic on a Dodge 48RE trans­mis­sion in­stalling per­for­mance clutches and bil­let shafts to han­dle the power and in­cred­i­ble shock loads the trans­mis­sion will ex­pe­ri­ence when Dal­ton launches the truck off the line. The trans­mis­sion is linked to the en­gine with a Sun­coast Sfi-cer­ti­fied flex plate and cus­tom bil­let torque con­verter. Gear se­lec­tion is han­dled by a pneu­mat­i­cally ac­tu­ated Pre­ci­sion Per­for­mance Prod­ucts shifter that is fed high-pres­sure gas di­rectly from the nitrous ox­ide bot­tle. Power is chan­neled from the Sun­coast trans­mis­sion to the Spi­der­trax rear end through a cus­tom chro­moly Strange Engi­neer­ing drive­shaft.

Fi­nally, to wrap up things up, the cab and body pan­els were handed off to the team at Cum­ber­land Body Shop in Cookville, Tenn., where every­thing was slathered in House of Kolor Tan­gelo Pearl paint that truly makes the truck stand out in any crowd. As the truck was as­sem­bled the RLC Mo­tor­sports team in­stalled the shell of the dash and re­tained the door pan­els and man­ual win­dows along with a Kirkey alu­minum race seat and PRP five-point har­nesses. They also wired the truck in­clud­ing a Ra­cepak gauge pack­age in­stalled in the fac­tory in­stru­ment panel lo­ca­tion and the rest of the mod­ules and har­ness­ing mounted on the pas­sen­ger side of the trans­mis­sion tun­nel.

Dal­ton’s 2WD diesel drag truck started as a dream and took many years to make it from his thoughts and ideas to a com­pleted truck. But any­one who looks at it can eas­ily see that it is a dream come true. Just be­fore our photo shoot at the Crossville Drag­way in Crossville, Tenn., Dal­ton and his team debuted the truck at the Diesel Thun­der event in Holt, Florida, mak­ing 6.17- and 6.11-sec­ond passes at 117 mph right out of the trailer. As he gets used to his new ride we ex­pect he will be con­tend­ing for wins as the 2017 sea­son de­vel­ops. Keep an eye out for the bright orange ma­chine—you might only see it a few sec­onds at a time, but with its bright Tan­gelo Pearl paint it will cer­tainly be hard to miss. UDBG

Michael Dal­ton’s new 2012 Ram 1500 Pro Street 2WD drag truck is a head-turn­ing, eye-pop­ping diesel mon­ster that is ready to make waves in the diesel drag race world. Of course the bright House of Kolor Tan­gelo Pearl paint makes it pop too!

The in­take charge is fed into the head through a cus­tom fab­ri­cated in­take el­bow that is painted to match the truck. You can also see both of the Fleece Pow­er­flo stro­ker CP3 high pres­sure fuel pumps that dom­i­nate the driver side of the Cum­mins en­gine.

Lift­ing the fac­tory alu­minum hood re­veals the single-turbo 5.9L Cum­mins with its se­ri­ous 16inch set­back that helps to pro­vide a drag race-friendly weight bias for the truck. Also no­tice that the tube por­tion of the chas­sis sup­ports the Strange struts as w

TOP: Re­mov­ing the fac­tory bumper skin re­veals the cus­tom light­weight mounts and also al­lows you to see the Stiletto steer­ing rack tucked up un­der­neath the chas­sis. The en­tire chas­sis is pow­der­coated in a bright sil­ver fin­ish to pro­tect it from the el­e­ment

TOP: The color-chang­ing as­pects of the Tan­gelo Pearl House of Kolor paint are eas­ily seen in bright sun. Note the per­fect rake Dal­ton and his team built into the truck, mak­ing it look like it’s go­ing fast even when it’s sit­ting still.

RIGHT: A Ra­cepak dig­i­tal dis­play re­places the fac­tory gauges in the fac­tory dash that still re­sides in the race truck.

FAR RIGHT: Dal­ton is cra­dled in an alu­minum Kirkey race seat and held firmly in place with a set of PRP five-point har­nesses. BE­LOW: When run­ning the eighth-mile in less than 6 sec­onds at well over 100 mph safety is a ma­jor con­cern, so the team at Wide Open De­sign built the chas­sis to meet SFI 25.3 spec­i­fi­ca­tions in­clud­ing the funny car-style driver pro­tec­tion cage around the seat. You can also see the clean elec­tron­ics and wiring on the trans­mis­sion tun­nel as well as the Nitrous Ex­press bot­tle that’s used to help spool the big charger and also used as the pres­sure source for the pneu­mat­i­cally con­trolled Pre­ci­sion Per­for­mance Prod­ucts shifter. Dal­ton can also re­move the bot­tle and in­stall an­other race seat for times that a brave pas­sen­ger is will­ing to go along for the ride. Look­ing through the driver’s door you can see all the cage work that is re­quired to keep Dal­ton safe as he blasts down the track.

TOP LEFT: Look­ing at the truck from the rear you can see the cus­tom alu­minum ton­neau cover the WOD team fab­ri­cated that’s hinged in the rear to ac­cess the bat­tery and fuel cell and sec­tioned to in­stall around the roll cage bars. Ex­cept for the aftermarket

RIGHT: Look­ing at the truck from the pas­sen­ger rear you can see the bat­tery kill switch as well as bat­tery charg­ing posts, the para­chute and a set of fully func­tional Re­con smoked LED tail­lights. The mas­sive 34.0/13.5-16 Mickey Thomp­son drag slicks wrappe

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