(From the Archives – 11.01.02)
A few weeks ago we showed and told you about Brandon Mojarro’s 2001 Ford F-250 Power Stroke 4×4 shortbed pickup and how well he was doing at local truck pull competitions with a Banks PowerPack and Level 5 Big Hoss chip being his only engine modifications.
Well, three weeks ago (Oct. 12-13), Brandon entered what is probably the biggest pickup truck pulling competition in the West, the October Showdown at the Agri-Center in Tulare, California—and won his class! Better yet, he drove this daily-driven truck from his home in Bishop, CA, on one side of the High Sierras, to Tulare in the middle of the San Joaquin Valley on the other side, swapped his OttoMind that comes with the PowerPack for the Level 5 Big Hoss, and pulled the sled 237.7 feet—about 20 feet farther than the second-place truck. Incidentally, this is about 100 feet farther than Brandon normally pulls, and he noted that this particular sled was significantly heavier than most—so much so that some trucks bowed out of the competition rather than risk damage trying to pull it. Others did damage their trucks. Brandon drove back home, no problem…other than a seriously bent drop hitch.
This was the 4th Annual All-Diesel Pickup Rally. Brandon estimated that there were 35 to 40 diesel pickups competing in both the sled pulls and dirt drag races, with trucks coming from as far away as Pennsylvania, Canada, and Colorado. There was a class for 2-wheel drive pickups, but the primary categories were for 7500-pound and 8500-pound 4-wheel drive pickups in street and extreme categories. The extreme classes were for trucks using fuel enhancers such as nitrous oxide or propane.
Brandon’s truck was only 140 pounds over the 7500-pound class limit. People were telling him to take his tailgate off so he could compete in the “easier” class, but he declined. You will note that several trucks in the heavy class added extra weights ahead of the front bumper so they could get more traction for the front drive wheels, but Brandon left his truck just the way he drives it on the street, other than the Level 5 Banks Big Hoss chip. He said that the owner of another truck in his class (8500-lb. Street), an ’03 Dodge modified by Diesel Dynamics with bigger fuel injectors and several other modifications, was showing off a dyno sheet stating 400+ rear wheel horsepower. Although Brandon’s truck has not been dyno’ed, Peter Treydte, our Director of Technical Communications, who had been corresponding with Brandon on what Banks products to use on his truck, estimated that his rear wheel numbers would be in the range of 325 HP and 700 lb./ft. of torque.
So how does a 325 HP truck out-pull a 400 HP one? First of all, it’s torque, not horsepower, that pulls the sled. You get no points for how quickly you pull it, just how far. As I said before, this is a pure grunt contest—perfect for diesel pickups. Well, I take that back. There is finesse involved. You don’t just mash the throttle and see how far the truck pulls, especially with a turbocharger. I’ve seen trucks simply spin their tires and dig themselves into the dirt within a few feet. Brandon said he’s been working on his driving style. At first he feathered the throttle at the start to get the sled moving and minimize tire slippage (remember, the weight on the sled keeps increasing the farther it travels). Now he keeps his foot on the brake and gives it a little gas (er…diesel) to spool up the turbo to about 8 to 10 pounds of boost before taking off (plus one or two other tricks that we won’t offer for public consumption—strictly driving tricks). But equipment does come into play, too—specifically tire size and type and gear ratio. Brandon runs the same 37-inch tall Super Swamper SSR tires he uses on the street (while some trucks in the class switch to “paddle” tires). He has also regeared the differentials to 4.30 ratios and added dual Doetsch Tech shocks with reservoirs in front and singles in the rear, all of which he runs on the street. The only other thing he adds for pulling are some helper springs to stiffen the rear suspension, because he likes a comfortable ride on the street. And since his truck has an automatic transmission, he pulls in 4Lo-2nd with OD locked out (low range 4-wheel drive, 2nd gear in the trans, overdrive locked out).
As you’ll see in the photos, other trucks in the class were belching smoke, frying clutches, and breaking driveline parts. Brandon was making it look almost effortless—kind of like our Sidewinder Dodge Dakota was doing at Bonneville at about the same time. As Brandon put it: “Afterward people were saying, ‘I can’t believe that Ford with Banks stuff won…it didn’t even smoke, blah, blah, blah.'”
This Dodge is one tricked-out truck, with a shiny black body and nearly all-chromed suspension. However, you’ll notice that only the rear tires are spitting dirt. That’s because it spit the front driveshaft