Chad Horning is a videographer who accompanied us to Bonneville for the recent running of the Sidewinder pickup to capture all the record-smashing action, including shots from an airplane as the truck sped down the course. If you live in the Los Angeles area and watch the 5 o’clock news, you saw some of his footage in the last couple of weeks as several TV channels reported on The World’s Fastest Pickup. And, as I reported here on 11/15/02, you can sample several clips of his video work on our Sidewinder web site.
But Chad is not the subject of tonight’s news. It’s his dad, Richard “Lumpy” Horning of Burbank, California. They say the movies are made in Hollywood, but most of them, as well as TV shows, are really made in Burbank, and it seems like half the people who live there work for the studios in one way or another. Richard works for a company called Easy Rider Productions, which supplies portable generators, dressing rooms, wardrobes, and other on-location support for music videos, commercials, and feature films. These are all in the form of trailers—mostly 5th wheel—that must be towed by trucks. Richard’s truck is a good-looking 2000 Ford F-350 XLT Power Stroke Super-Cab duallie long bed. He says he uses this truck strictly for work—nothing else—and since it’s always pulling heavy trailers, he knew it could use some more go and some more whoa. And after Chad’s connection with Banks, he knew where to get it.
So we fixed up Lumpy’s truck with a Banks PowerPack and a Banks Brake. Otherwise it’s completely stock, with an automatic transmission.
Now for the story. Last Oct. 27th, up in the desolate high desert near Palmdale, northeast of Los Angeles, the L.A. County Raceway (one of only two full-time quarter mile drag strips left in all of Southern California) staged a first-ever Survivor Series Chevy vs. Ford meet. The night before, one of Richard’s friends called and said “Let’s go.” But when he arrived the next morning in his convertible, for some reason the top wouldn’t go up, and it does get cold up in the high desert. So he said to Lumpy, “Let’s take your truck. I want to see how that Banks stuff works.” So they did. Then, on the way up, the friend started grinding on Richard to enter the meet. Lumpy thought the idea was ridiculous. But by the time they got there, the friend had somehow convinced him to do it. “It was only $20 to enter,” Richard told me.
This was all completely spur of the moment. The truck had a full toolbox and the 5th wheel in the bed, a heavy ball hitch on the back, and a back seat full of other stuff. Lumpy was no regular drag racer. But he decided to enter the OEM Tire class, which was for any types of vehicles running factory original or replacement tires. There were about a dozen cars in this bracket class, including several Cobra Mustangs and similar cars. Lumpy’s was definitely the only diesel duallie pickup at the event.
For his first and only practice run, he turned 16.50 seconds, but he forgot to take the truck out of overdrive. So for his first actual race, he dialed-in at 16.20. He took off with a little chirp of the tires, letting the automatic shift for itself. Toward the finish line, he said he saw some of the young spectators kind of pointing and laughing at the big ol’ diesel truck. But he won!
If you’re not familiar with bracket drag racing, each driver writes the time he thinks he can turn, or a little quicker, on his windshield. Then the starter “dials-in” these times to the starting tree, and the slower vehicle gets a head start equal to the difference between the two times. The first car (or truck) to the finish line wins, as long as it doesn’t go quicker than its dial-in time. So this racing is not about being the fastest or the quickest; it’s about running consistently close to your dial-in and getting off the line as quickly as possible. It’s more a driver competition.
Lumpy must be a natural drag driver, and the truck was plenty consistent. He won the class, running as close as 16.23 on his 16.20 dial-in. That’s good! By the final round, the kids in the crowd were standing and cheering. Needless to say, Lumpy was stoked. Now, those of you who know drag racing aren’t impressed with a 16.23 second E.T. But let’s put this in perspective. Given the full toolbox, the 5th wheel, and all the other baggage, Richard’s truck probably weighed well over 8000 pounds in “race trim” that day, but let’s use 8000 lbs as a comparison weight. Using the Quarter Jr. computer drag simulator program, using low-rpm diesel-speed shift points, if Lumpy’s truck weighed 3500 pounds, like an average car, it would run 12.60’s with the same power. And that isn’t factoring for LACR’s near 3000-ft. elevation. Does that get your attention? And its only modification was the Banks PowerPack.
Towards the end of the day, the promoters staged a burn-out contest, with $100 going to the winner. Lumpy was ready for more. Actually, he told me he wasn’t sure whether it would spin the tires at all. But he decided to give it a try. Judging burn-outs is subjective. But once Richard got those duallies smokin’ there was absolutely no question which vehicle won. It was a pretty unusual—and impressive—display. The $100 prize will hardly put a dent in the $400-$500 he’ll have to pay for new rear tires, but Lumpy says it was all completely worth it. He wants to do it again.
However, talking to him yesterday about these unexpected exploits, he actually had more to say about the Banks Brake than anything else. Remember, other than this one day of play, Richard uses this truck exclusively for towing big, heavy trailers. Last week he had to take one over the Grapevine. He said that in the past he had driven big rigs with Jake Brakes, but he said the Banks Brake on his Power Stroke works even better. He’s only had it on a couple of months, but he couldn’t say enough good about it.
Now, before all you Dodge boys get your knickers in a knot over another story about a Ford Power Stroke winning an event, be advised that (1) he won his class; there was no Top Eliminator (Ford was declared event winner; they won 4 of 5 classes); (2) it was bracket racing, so speed didn’t matter; and (3) he didn’t beat any Dodges, because they weren’t invited at all. Why so many Ford diesel success stories? Because they tell me about them and send me photos to use. If you want Dodge turbo diesel equal time, tell me about your exploits—using Banks Power equipment, of course—and send material to me at the Friday Night News. Same goes for any of you doing anything outstanding, unusual, fun, or maybe even absurd with Banks Powered vehicles. I’m open. Believe it or not.