Once a year, I make the trek to Indianapolis for the Ultimate Callout Challenge, an event which focuses on the diesel performance world from top to bottom. Some of the most insane performances I’ve ever witnessed have taken place at this event, not the least of which was the show put on just a few weeks ago by the dudes at Firepunk Diesel with the team’s Cummins-powered S10 pickup. You may remember the team, which we first featured a few years ago in this Front Street article.
Today, they are locked in an ongoing battle with Ryan Milliken of Hardway Performance (whom you might remember from this Front Street article) and are chasing the quickest diesel doorslammer drag racing pass down the eighth-mile.
The two teams have been trading blows on the track for the better part of a year, and it just so happens that I was able to witness the Firepunk team—with Larson Miller behind the wheel—sneak back on top during the Outlaw Diesel Super Series event which took place at UCC, just a few short months after I saw Milliken card the 4.28 blast at the Sweet 16 2.0 event in Georgia.
Miller stopped the clocks with an awesome 4.25 blast at nearly 175 mph during Saturday night’s session, which is three ticks better than Milliken’s 4.28 best pass.
With the help of several journalist colleagues, I researched diesel performance around the world for this article, and as far as I can determine, Firepunk’s current-best 4.25 pass is the eighth-mile world record for a diesel-powered doorslammer of any engine configuration.
Now, there are several differences between this truck and Milliken’s X275 Nova, but let’s not let semantics get in the way of a good story. The truck is lighter and uses a big slick tire compared to Milliken’s Nova, which runs on a 275mm-wide radial tire. But the truck also runs at events where the track preparation is not nearly of the caliber Milliken is used to seeing at X275 races. So there’s that.
Save The Racks
The truck is owned by Edgar Artecona and wears livery for Save The Racks, which is designed to raise awareness of breast cancer and support the Breast Cancer Research Foundation. Save The Racks came to be several years ago when Artecona’s daughter, Amalee Mueller, branded her own race trucks with the logo to support her mother’s fight against breast cancer. At the time, taking her drag truck down to a shell and building it back up was an outlet for the team’s focus while Mom underwent chemotherapy.
“My dad and I and our good friend Kevin built my drag truck, and we needed a name for it. At the time she was right in the middle of chemo,” says Mueller.
Over the years she continued to run her drag truck, and a pulling truck in National Hot Rod Diesel Association events with the livery installed.
The logo incorporates the traditional breast cancer awareness pink ribbon along with a stylized rack of antlers. In fact, the antlers are from Amalee’s favorite Texas deer she’s hunted, at the young age of 14.
Mueller’s drag truck, which was the first to sport the Save The Racks livery, earns sponsorship donations from Hot Shot’s Secret.
“Hot Shot’s Secret was really interested in the program, and we were more interested in the charity donation, so they hopped on board [to sponsor my truck] to make donations per pass,” she says.
“Last year, just with my race truck and pull truck, we raised almost $6,000. We’ve incorporated that with the S10, and it gives us incentive to run well and beat our records,” she says.
The donation program also is in place for the S10, where Hot Shot’s Secret makes a donation to the Breast Cancer Research Foundation for every pass the truck makes down the track, with additional donations for runner-up or first-place finishes at an event.
Edgar, a lifelong diesel enthusiast, has had many trucks over the years and in fact worked for International Harvester for a time before starting his current businesses.
“I’ve always loved diesel stuff. When I was in high school, we started hot-rodding tractors, and once tractor-pulling started coming around, we started buying turbos, but we didn’t know what we were doing back then,” says Artecona.
Life progressed, he and his wife had children, and before Amalee headed off to college, the two of them decided to build a bubba truck (done-up 4×4, in kid-speak) and the current obsession with diesel performance took hold. Together, they took an ’05 4-door 5.9-liter Dodge and built her a compound-turbo truck with over 800 horsepower as he taught her the ins and outs of the 5.9-liter engine.
Eventually, she wanted more power, which found the next weak link in the truck—the transmission. And that’s where the initial association with Firepunk came into the picture, as he turned to Firepunk’s Lavon Miller for assistance.
Several years ago, he had an opportunity to purchase the S10. A couple of years later, after buying a ton of parts and not being any closer to a running truck, he realized it was going to take a whole lot more time than he had to invest. After mulling it over, he made the decision to extend a sponsorship offer to the Firepunk team to complete the truck into its current form and let it make its mark on the diesel drag racing world.
The S10’s Details
I recently caught up with the crew chief on the truck, Firepunk’s Lyn Miller, who was happy to share information on the S10’s configuration, the difficulties they’ve faced in getting the truck to its current performance level, and the team’s future aspirations.
“If [Milliken] can go 4.28, on paper there’s no reason we shouldn’t be able to put a solid two-tenths on that, but you know how that all goes,” he says. “We don’t race on paper, so…”
Currently the truck is fitted with one of D&J Precision Machine’s deck-plate Cummins engines, which uses a factory block and a one-inch-thick billet steel plate on top, which serves several purposes. First, the steel plate provides an anchor point for the cylinder sleeves which is much stronger than the cast block material, and gives the added benefit of a much-improved rod-to-stroke ratio, which reduces thrust loading on the piston. At the power level this six-cylinder diesel beast achieves, any additional strength engineered into the package is welcome.
Miller says the engine produces somewhere in the neighborhood of 2,700 horsepower and 3,500 lb-ft of torque as configured. You’d think that would be enough, but the Firepunk and D&J association is always looking for more power, and to that end D&J is in the final development stages on its new all-billet Cummins design seen below, which is destined for use in the truck and will have several hundred more horsepower if it runs according to plan.
D&J will be hitting the dyno with it sometime in June, and guess what? We have an exclusive article coming soon on the engine’s construction and the development ideas behind it straight from D&J’s Drew Pumphrey, so stay tuned for that in just a few short weeks right here on Front Street, assuming all goes well during the dyno sessions.
It’s clear the power is there with the current engine, but given the fact that the team is still learning how to use this type of chassis with this type of engine combination, exponential leaps and bounds are quite possible once the new powerplant is in place.
Miller credits the guidance from the shock gurus at Menscer Motorsports as one of the keys to the team’s recent success.
“We were running pretty consistent 1.15 to 1.16 60-foots, and with the help of the guys at Menscer and the changes we made to the truck over winter, we are down to 1.08 to 1.10. That in itself has helped a ton,” he says.
“We shortened the truck 10 inches and went from a 124-inch wheelbase to a 114-inch wheelbase, and took 230 pounds out of the truck. By doing that, we got our weight bias from 57-percent front to 52-percent on the front. We’re able to keep the back tires planted a lot better.”
There are still several changes to be made to the torque converter and nitrous system configuration which will net even more elapsed time gains, and the team’s next area of concentration will be in improving the 60-to-330-foot area of the tuneup, where Miller feels a tenth or two of ET improvement will come by sharpening this focus.
Perhaps the most important question I asked is this: Where does he feel the Firepunk team is headed in the near future with this combination, and ultimately the new D&J billet bullet once it is all sorted out?
“John at Menscer is always chirping in my ear telling me we need to put it on radials, but our thought on that is that we need to learn how to crawl before we run. Come this fall, if we feel comfortable enough with our powerplant and everything that we’re doing to where we feel like we can put it on radials and not feel like idiots, then that might be something we’d consider,” he says.
They are looking at several different classes, like Pro275 and LDR, but currently the truck only fits into the big-dog Radial Vs. The World class. To fit into those other classes, either concessions would need to be made by the rulesmakers, or the Firepunk team would have to stray from its roots and source a new chassis.
“At this point it would be to show up and try to go 3s and let people ooohh and aaahh and you probably wouldn’t even sniff the show. That’s a little bit of what we struggle with—we’d like to take it to some of the more mainstream races,” he says.
“We’ve tossed around the idea of building another chassis with the newest and best of everything, but some of what’s kept us from doing that is because we haven’t quite figured out the direction we want to go with that. The thought of playing in X275 is somewhat appealing, but you have to play on an X track or you’re not going to get down the track. Ryan doesn’t bring his car to most diesel races anymore because he knows he can’t get down the track.”
So what’s the ultimate goal of this horsepower search?
“We’re gonna try to go 3s in it. I don’t know if we can do it or not, but we’re gonna try. ODSS is making a shirt that says Hunt For The 3s with our truck on it, so there’s no pressure or anything,” he says.
“I really feel like 4.0s should be pretty attainable this year. Although when you see what it takes to pick up two-and-a-half tenths sometimes, that’s a lot. It might fall into place and go like this last two-and-a-half; last fall we went 4.47, and then we came out this year and in two weekends we went 4.25. That came easily. If it by chance goes that easily, sweet! But I’m not expecting that.”
Ultimately, they are currently the world’s quickest diesel drag vehicle, and are poised to solidify that standing even further as the season progresses into the cooler months this fall.
“At this point, having the world’s quickest diesel is more important to us than trying to fit into a mainstream class,” sums up Miller.
Firepunk Diesel/Save the Racks Cummins S10 Drag Truck
|engine:||2007 6.7-liter Cummins Diesel, D&J Precision Machine billet steel X-beam connecting rods, D&J FSR pistons, Hamilton camshaft, Wagler billet cylinder head, Total Seal piston rings. 15.0:1 compression, machined & assembled by D&J Precision Machine|
|transmission:||Rossler Transmission Turbo 400, Neal Chance 12-inch torque converter, Precision Performance Products Shifter, PST carbon fiber driveshaft|
|chassis:||Chromoly, 114-inch wheelbase, double frame-rail, updated by Firepunk Diesel|
|electronics:||Bosch ECU, DDU datalogger, PBX powerbox, programmed by Exergy Performance|
|fuel system:||Twin 14mm race injection pumps from Exergy Performance, 500% over injectors|
|suspension:||Menscer Motorsports struts and shocks, four-link rear suspension, Jerry Bickel antiroll bar|
|rearend:||Mark Williams 11-inch differential, 2.90:1 gearset|
|brakes:||The Brake Man|
|exhaust:||Steed Speed exhaust manifold|
|Exterior||Fiberglass body, Hott Bodz hood, Wrap designed and applied by Associated Graphics Incorporated|
|Wheels and Tires:||Weld Racing with Mickey Thompson tires|
|Power-Adder:||Garrett Gen 2 GT55 91mm turbocharger, Nitrous Express direct-port nitrous system|