Project Sidewinder’s First Drag Race


The Banks Sidewinder made its first drag racing appearance at Bandimere Raceway in Denver, Colorado.

Banks Sidewinder Dakota at Bandimere

On July 27, the Banks Sidewinder made its first drag racing appearance at Bandimere Raceway in Denver, Colorado. This was a major event sanctioned by the Diesel Hot Rod Association (DHRA). What did we learn? We learned that we have a surprisingly quick pickup with the potential to go much faster. Our initial combination was very conservative since it was the first outing utilizing an automatic transmission behind the omnipotent Banks-modified Cummins diesel, and we were concerned about the durability of the tranny.

So how did it run? The best run was 12.167 seconds at 115.10mph. That was good enough to make it one of the quickest diesel pickup at the event. In essence, it was a drag racing test session for the Sidewinder, and we’re not even close to satisfied. We learned something else too: Banks’ business competitors like to talk, but when it came time to actually run at a sanctioned event, they were nowhere to be found.

A couple of footnotes: First, nitrous oxide injection and propane injection are legal and allowed for diesel drag competition, as are multiple turbos. The Sidewinder made its 12.16 pass with a single turbo and no nitrous oxide or propane injection – just straight #2 diesel fuel. Second, driver Sheldon Tackett is brand new to drag racing. He’s still learning how best to stage the truck at the starting line and how to best apply throttle for best performance. And third, Bandimere is at an altitude of 5860 feet. Runs closer to sea level will also be done with the Sidewinder in exactly the same configuration in the near future to compare clockings.

Banks Sidewinder Dakota at Bandimere

For those of you who are interested in the tech details of the initial drag package, the Sidewinder tipped the scales at 4975 pounds. The automatic transmission used is a Dodge 47RE overdrive unit with internal strengthening modifications. It retains a basic street shifting program, and of course, the transmission is mated to the new Banks Billet Torque Converter. The transmission will be further modified for quicker, more positive shifting in the future. It will also be altered to lock out overdrive for drag strip runs as the unit currently shifts into overdrive before the end of the quarter mile. The rearend used for both the street and drag racing is a Currie Track 9 unit. It was fitted with a 2.75:1 ring and pinion ratio for the initial drag runs. A more aggressive ratio will be used for future competition. An experimental air-to-water intercooling system, utilizing a bed-mounted cold water reservoir, was also used to simultaneously improve engine charge air density and enhance rear wheel traction. The rear tires used were 12.00-15 Goodyear drag racing slicks.

Will the Sidewinder be run at future events to better its performance? You bet. Gale Banks and the Sidewinder crew won’t be satisfied until the Sidewinder reaches its true potential, and we’ll be at sanctioned tracks to prove it. We won’t be there to make exhibition runs. We’ll be there to compete and to make the Sidewinder’s performance a matter of official record. Of course, to really compete, there will have to be someone to compete against. We’ll let you know where the Sidewinder will be running next on the site. Hopefully the competition won’t scratch when we roll through the gate. (Maybe we should rename the Sidewinder and call it Seabiscuit!)

After the drags, the Sidewinder went to Las Vegas for the Association of Diesel Specialists Trade Show, a trade only affair held at the Mirage Hotel & Casino July 31 – August 2. En route, Sidewinder crew chief Sheldon Tackett stopped at a Cummins dealership just outside Las Vegas. The plan was to display the World’s Fastest Pickup for a few hours, and maybe make a couple of smoky burnouts for the spectators. A number of interested fans, a few photographers (and even someone who looked a lot like Elvis) showed up for the appearance. Sheldon proceeded to do a few burnouts for the wide-eyed fans and then an amazing thing happened. Sheldon got into a totally unplanned and unauthorized street race with a fellow in a Corvette. The Sidewinder “smoked” the ‘Vette by five car-lengths, much to the disbelief of the Corvette owner – and the cops who happened to see the whole thing! (Fortunately, the cops turned out to be truck fans that were more interested in looking under the Sidewinder’s hood than writing citations.) The spectators at the Cummins dealership saw the whole thing. Watch it. For the Sidewinder, it was a very good week!

Banks Sidewinder Dakota and Elvis

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