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A 1,200-Horsepower 6.0L Drag Truck

A friend of ours once said that racing a 6.0L Ford is like competing in a sporting event with one arm tied behind your back. If that’s the case, then Matt Moroni’s mission to compete in the ultra-competitive NHRDA Super Street class with a 6.0L is like having both arms and a leg incapacitated. 

Want to hear the crazy part?

He’s got the goods to do it. With a fuel-only shakedown pass of 10.89 seconds in the quarter-mile without tapping into his 300-hp nitrous system, it’s clear that Matt and his Power Stroke aren’t playing games. In fact, the truck’s awesome 1,211 RWHP dyno number is a record for 6.0L Fords.

How did he build such a monster? We sat down with him to find out.

“From farm truck to drag truck.”

It should be no surprise that building a 6.0L Power Stroke into a 1,200-hp monster takes a bit of work. While the crankshaft and block are stock, almost everything else has been modified. The connecting rods are from Hypermax, the pistons are from Elite Diesel (and have been modified by Matt) and the camshaft and valve train are all experimental prototype parts from Elite Diesel. Plenty of fuel and air are needed, and there’s nitrous too—although fuel alone still propels the truck into the 10-second zone.

THE FIRST STEP

As it turns out, Matt’s obsession with making the “wrong” truck go fast didn’t start here. Before the truck you see on these pages, Matt raced a four-door Ford street truck, which, again, was powered by a 6.0L Power Stroke engine. Matt went through the normal progression of turbo and injector upgrades before going into the big time with twins and some nitrous.

Despite weighing in at nearly four tons, Matt’s bright orange 6.0L was able to lay down some serious quarter-mile times, eventually running 11.30s at more than 120 mph on a healthy dose of squeeze. The nitrous-heavy passes were enough to get track officials to give him the boot for lack of safety equipment, so it was then that he decided to build a dedicated race effort.

Since Matt did diesel work for a group of friends, he soon ran across the perfect candidate for a race truck: a well-worn regular cab 4×4, with a hydro-locked engine and a beat-up body.

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He got that forlorn Ford towed home and quickly set about working on turning his new ride from farm truck to drag truck. The rear of the F-250 was so beat up that one of his first moves was to secure a new bed for the rig. After that, he went with a basic clean-up, including chiseling about ten years’ worth of mud from the frame. Matt estimated that just cleaning up the truck must have taken about 50 pounds off of it.

Since the motor in it was hydro-locked, the engine and transmission from the orange rig were jammed in placed, and he was ready to race. Or so he thought.

THE POWER PLANT

Unfortunately, the engine Matt had just put in from the orange truck had a cracked block, which necessitated a full rebuild. It was then the project really started to get out of hand.

Although a new factory block had been sourced, that’s about all that remained stock on the truck. On the engine’s crank swings a set of ultra-strong Hypermax connecting rods—which are attached to a set of oversize pistons from Elite Diesel—modified by Matt himself. The rest of the engine also got a heavy dose of the Elite treatment, with the camshaft, pushrods and valve springs all coming from Elite.

From the back of the truck on up, the fuel system is all serious race stuff. First, a 5-gallon fuel cell leads up to a Holley Dominator fuel pump, which is regulated at about 60 psi and pushes an impressive 200 gallons per hour worth of fuel. Next, the fuel is sent to two high-pressure oil pumps (HPOPs for short), which then fire the enormous 410cc injectors. With the power numbers, being conservative is not an option.

The transmission has been gone through a few times, and is currently sporting an experimental high-stall converter and a manual valve body. Since hard launches aren’t easy on shafts, billet input, output, and intermediate shafts are used. The final piece of the puzzle is a PPE deep pan, which holds additional fluid as well as provides much better cooling than the original pan.

Try as we might, we couldn’t get the exact turbo specs from Matt. If we had to guess, we’d say that he’s running a GT45-framed Garrett charger as his high-pressure turbo, and a GT55-frame turbo as the larger, low-pressure unit. Both turbos are ball-bearing units, and are regulated to produce 100 psi of boost on either fuel alone, or with the assistance of nitrous oxide.

With the front clip removed, one of the more impressive engine pieces is the mammoth water-to-air intercooler. Built by Chiseled Performance, this intercooler is rated to flow up to 3,000 hp worth of air.

The heads were ported as well to ensure a clear airflow path throughout the engine. ARP head studs and rod bolts secured reliability, although the head wasn’t O-ringed or fire-ringed for this application.

When we moved on to discussing the power-producing parts, Matt became pretty tight-lipped. We understood: there aren’t many 6.0L Fords out there that make 946 rear-wheel horsepower on fuel and 1,211 rwhp on nitrous.

What we did get out of him is that both the turbochargers are Garrett ball-bearing units, with the smaller (or high-pressure) turbo being 70+ millimeters in size, while the larger atmospheric turbo is a whopping 90+ millimeters. When going down the track, the engine produces a crazy 100 psi of boost, with JGS wastegates producing nearly equal drive and boost. A massive 5.5-inch Airaid filter and custom intake, along with a 5-inch downpipe, round out the airflow combination.

FUELING THE MONSTER

The fuel system proves just as interesting as the air system. Eschewing the popular pump setups, Matt settled upon a 200-gph Holley Dominator fuel pump, which sends 60 psi of fuel up to the engine’s high-pressure fuel system.

If you’re wondering about all the round objects in the exhaust system, they’re 44mm wastegates from JGS. Large injectors, especially when combined with nitrous, create enormous amounts of drive pressure, and over-speeding a turbocharger can become a very real reality.

One of the most glaring additions to the 6.0L engine is the twin HPOP (high-pressure oil pump) setup that stares onlookers in the face. Matt was one of the first people to try this setup designed by Elite Diesel Engineering. Both 7.3L and 6.0L engines use oil pressure to fire the injectors, so having enough pressure is important. Above about 500 rear-wheel horsepower, the factory pump becomes a hindrance—ergo the need for the two stock-pump system.

“946 rear-wheel horsepower on fuel, and 1,211 rwhp on nitrous.”

So far, the system has proved reliable, with enough Wheaties to keep up well beyond the four-digit mark. The last pieces of the fuel system—the injectors—also have an appropriate amount of voodoo. They are custom 410cc units that Matt built himself with parts from Elite Diesel. The nozzles are a one-off design that Matt says are “around 400 percent over-stock” (although he admits they might be bigger). DW

“Above about 500 rear-wheel horsepower, the factory high-pressure oil pump becomes a hindrance, so a setup with two stock pumps was created.”

The water-to-air intercooler needs a lot of cool water, so Matt had this 7-gallon tank and pump system installed in the driver’s compartment. The setup circulates ice water up to the intercooler and back during a run down the drag strip, and keeps engine inlet temperatures low and the air charge extremely dense.

Matt incorporated V-band clamps into every boost tube connection. These V-bands provide an extremely stable connection that has almost no chance of blowing apart.

The front of Fords are known for wheel hop under hard acceleration, so Matt decided to combat the bounce on his Ford by adding a set of Rancho 9000 shocks up front.

With a bunch of turbos, piping, and other hardware taking up under-hood space, the factory oil filter was relocated to the frame rail of the truck. This was done with factory Ford parts, as an E-series Ford van actually uses this type of setup.

A roll bar is one of the more basic safety features required for the times and speeds Matt reaches in the quarter-mile. It has bars that extend back through the bed and to the frame for strength, and also swing-out bars for ease of access to the driver’s seat. Once Matt breaks into the nines, the roll bar will have to be updated to a full roll cage.

Much of the factory interior on Matt’s truck has been removed and replaced with a racing seat, pushbutton switches, and the big intercooler tank. If Matt decides to drop even more weight, the power windows and factory dash are the next to go.

A Sir Michaels roll pan at the rear of the truck replaced the factory rear bumper and allowed for a cleaner look and less weight.

GETTING THE POWER TO THE GROUND

With all that power, we now come to a painful part in the story: trying to keep transmissions together. While Matt initially started with the 4R100 that came in the Ford, despite serious help coping with the horsepower, it still wasn’t holding up. The transmission would either fail to shift at the right rpm, break a shaft, or burn itself up.
After many attempts, Matt went a different route than many might have guessed. He used a Dodge transmission.

That’s right, folks—Instead of a 4R100, a 47RH that’s normally found in Dodge Rams lies behind the powerful 6.0L engine. The transmission was bolted to the engine with an adaptor made by Sun Coast Converters, and it features a high-stall torque converter, billet input, output and intermediate shafts, plus a manual valve body so Matt can do his own shifting.