JUST GRIN AND BAIR IT

An in­side look at Jon Bair’s Pro Stock sled puller

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

In­di­ana is home to many forms of motorsport, so of course rac­ing can very eas­ily get into your blood. Jon Bair and his son Ja­cob, farm­ers in Sum­mitville, In­di­ana, who are now both driv­ers in NTPA and PPL sled-pulling com­pe­ti­tions, are proof of that. A few years ago, Jon Bair de­cided to trans­form a rusty old $500 truck into a lean, mean, sled-pulling ma­chine over the course of a year of hard work with help from his son and Hais­ley Ma­chine in Fair­mount, In­di­ana. The Bairs have taken that dream from a rusted shell to a win­ning team of now two Pro Stock sled-pulling con­tenders.

To be­gin the trans­for­ma­tion, Bair would fo­cus on re­in­forc­ing the chas­sis of the 1998 Dodge Ram pickup to fit the setup of a pro puller. The Dodge’s orig­i­nal frame would still be uti­lized, al­beit re­tooled and re­in­forced. Bair welded in brac­ing sim­i­lar to the fa­mil­iar lad­der frame chas­sis of the Su­per Stock trucks to sta­bi­lize and strengthen the stock steel. Fab­ri­cated into the beefed-up frame is the sturdy hitch mount equipped with an ad­justable height hook point to fit what­ever reg­u­la­tion height is set at each event. Also welded into the back is the solid rear end where the rear springs and shocks were elim­i­nated to bear the weight of the sled with­out squat­ting and tak­ing weight off the front end. Help­ing to keep that front end down is the cus­tom fab­ri­cated weight box integrated into the frame, stor­ing the bat­ter­ies as well as weight blocks and ice wa­ter for the air-to-wa­ter in­ter­cooler sys­tem.

With the in­tense rig­ors of sled pulling in mind, Bair se­lected a SQHD cast iron dif­fer­en­tial for the rear end and an F106 cast iron dif­fer­en­tial for the front. Though the rear shocks are gone, up front are dual Pro Shocks coilovers to han­dle the bumpy clay while keep­ing the tires firmly planted. Though they’re sel­dom used, Bair im­proved his brak­ing power with Wil­wood brake ro­tors. The 15x22 inch wheels up front and 15x20 inch wheels in the back with Hais­ley Ma­chine hubs are out­fit­ted with the all-im­por­tant Ni­chols Pulling Edge cut tires now al­lowed for the Pro Stock truck class in PPL. These tires al­low ex­tra bite over the for­mer DOT tires and help get the im­mense power and torque to the clay.

But be­fore Bair could hit the clay, he needed a solid source of power, and the old faith­ful of diesel sled pullers was cho­sen: the Cum­mins. But this would be no or­di­nary Cum­mins, and for help cre­at­ing the heart of the beast, Bair wisely chose Hais­ley Ma­chine, a puller-proven en­gine shop. The start­ing point was a Hais­ley Su­per B equipped with Ross pis­tons and HMR Cus­toms rods. The block was capped with a Wa­gler Com­pe­ti­tion Prod­ucts cylin­der head. ZZ Cus­tom Fabri­ca­tion’s in­take man­i­fold was in­stalled to feed plenty of high-pres­sure air into the Wa­gler head. To up the ante on the fuel, a North­east Diesel fuel sys­tem was used feed­ing Colum­bus Diesel up­graded in­jec­tors and a huge 16mm P8600 North­east Diesel Ser­vices P-pump. For in­creased air­flow, Bair opted for a mas­sive Wimer Per­for­mance turbo equipped with high-pres­sure wa­ter jets at its in­let, along with a Pre­ci­sion Per­for­mance air-to-wa­ter in­ter­cooler.

Af­ter Hais­ley Ma­chine wrenched on the en­gine, Bair was pre­sented with a beast mak­ing more than 2,300 horse­power and 2,700 pound­feet of torque. But get­ting that power to the ground would take some more work. A Pro­fab trans­mis­sion was cho­sen for the project. To fur­ther beef up the trans for the trips down the pull track, a Moli­nari clutch, billet steel fly­wheel, and cus­tom floater bell hous­ing were in­stalled. Hais­ley spec drive­shafts were out­fit­ted to com­plete the driv­e­line. For a show-stop­ping pulling rig, though, the en­gine bay needed some fi­nesse. To dress up the bay, Bair used painted-to-match or­ange boost tubes, pol­ished the SMT valve cover and other facets, as well as adding black and or­ange paint ins­die the neatly ar­ranged cus­tom en­gine bay, along with or­ange light­ing that can be seen through the grille as the truck blasts down the track.

Over the win­ter, while they were build­ing the truck, Bair and son de­cided they wanted to make a dras­tic change to the ma­chine. Though the rig was pow­ered by Cum­mins on a Dodge frame, Bair was a ma­jor Chevy fan and wanted to show it. Fa­ther and son worked hard that win­ter to re­move the old Dodge body from the re­in­forced chas­sis. They found a 1968 C30 that would be per­fect for the truck, though it needed some help to get there. With the aid of Baledge Auto Body in Alexan­dria, In­di­ana, they were able to re­store the C30 back from its rust and dents to a deep, eye-catch­ing or­ange suit­able for a top-per­form­ing sled puller. But be­fore the paint was ap­plied, they had some cus­tom fab­ri­cat­ing to do. Bair’s rig had a wheel­base of 158 inches, much longer than the C30 they had to work with, so the crew at Baledge Auto Body seam­lessly cut and stretched the bed to 10 feet long. Once the restora­tion and cus­tomiza­tion was com­pleted came the work of fab­ri­cat­ing new mounts for the beefed-up frame and its new skin. By the time win­ter lost its chill, Jon and Ja­cob Bair had fin­ished their body swap and were al­most ready to hit the track.

In­side, the truck holds a sim­ple black bucket seat sur­rounded by not-so-sim­ple levers, gauges, switches and more. Ja­cob Bair mod­i­fied a cus­tom dash out of the fac­tory steel to fit all the nec­es­sary Au­tome­ter gauges as well as the tog­gles and pulls for all the ma­chine’s vi­tal func­tions. Jon Bair com­pleted all the wiring for the puller as all the hard work fi­nally came to­gether.

Af­ter a year­long build, Jon Bair, along with help from his son Ja­cob and the Hais­ley Ma­chine team, as well as Baledge Auto Body, were able to bring their dream to life. Com­plete with bright or­ange paint, a pun-der­ful name of Grin-n-bair It, and an in­sane smi­ley face, this truck was ready for the pro cir­cuit. And not only did this rig live up to Bair’s idea, it also lived up to its own hype by win­ning the 2015 PPL Pro Stock points Cham­pi­onship. Start­ing out with an on-its-way­out truck and a lofty goal, Jon Bair was able to craft a now-iconic sled puller grab­bing at­ten­tion and wins across NTPA and PPL events. UDBG

The sleek in­stal­la­tion of the ZZ Cus­tom Fabri­ca­tion’s in­take as well as the cus­tom laid fuel lines off the North­east Diesel Ser­vices P-pump add to the looks and per­for­mance of this mon­ster Cum­mins.

Run­ning aired-down Ni­chols cut tires around the 15x22-inch wheels up front and aired-up cuts around the 15x20 inch wheels in the back en­sures some of the best grip pos­si­ble on any track.

Wimer Per­for­mance’s turbo with the manda­tory cut-off guil­lo­tine makes tremen­dous boost for the Cum­mins. Ad­di­tional aid comes from top and bot­tom high-pres­sure wa­ter jets spray­ing away from the in­let for the turbo to suck in a fine mist.

This Hais­ley Ma­chine built Cum­mins, cleanly in­stalled into a retro­fit­ted en­gine bay, is pro­duc­ing over 2,300 horse­power.

A Pro Stock class puller’s frame needs heavy re­in­force­ment to with­stand the mas­sive sled drag­ging its heels in the clay, as well as drive­shaft loops and rings for safety around the en­tire driv­e­line.

This stout hitch mount with a vari­able hook point is fab­ri­cated into the bol­stered frame, and to­gether with the beefy, solid rear axle it al­lows no droop when the weight of the sled is on it.

Look­ing un­der the front of the truck you can see the beefy F106 front axle as well as the hy­draulic steer­ing ram and the mas­sive amount of plumb­ing re­quired for a com­pet­i­tive Pro Stock pulling truck.

RIGHT: It’s com­mon to move the bat­ter­ies into the weight box it­self where large weights and ice wa­ter for the air-to-wa­ter in­ter­cooler sys­tem are also lo­cated. FAR RIGHT: These Pro Shocks dual coilovers help keep the front end from bot­tom­ing out with...

Painted-to-match boost tubes feed­ing into the Pre­ci­sion Turbo air-to-wa­ter in­ter­cooler mounted be­hind the toothy grin of the Grin-n-bair It cus­tom weight box are some of the sub­tle touches mak­ing this not only a pull win­ner, but a show truck as well....

TOP: With a cus­tom mod­i­fied dash, this in­te­rior could be con­fused with an air­plane’s cock­pit with all its gauges, levers, and switches, but it’s ex­actly what Bair needs when pi­lot­ing the sled down the run­way. CEN­TER LEFT: Baledge Auto Body did a...

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