Matt Maier’s 11-second, Daily-Driven OBS Ford
While today, folks buy diesel trucks for a whole host of reasons, the diesels of old were often purchased for one purpose: to tow. Figuring out how well they responded to power-adders would come with time. That scenario couldn’t have been more true for Matt Maier and his ’97 F-250. Twelve years ago, when factory oil burners weren’t near the behemoths of today, he was so impressed with the way his friend’s bone-stock, 125,000-mile 7.3L pulled a trailer that he leapt at the chance to buy it. At the time, he couldn’t have imagined—even in his wildest dreams—that it would one day run low 11s and still be capable of towing anything he needed it to.
Even though Maier’s OBS Ford was originally intended to tote his toys to the mudhole or the trailhead, in time the truck would change his entire world. Over the course of the last decade, and after having worked for the likes of Beans Diesel Performance, Full Force Diesel, and now Irate Diesel Performance, his daily-driven tow rig gradually morphed into one of the most consistent trucks in diesel drag racing. Along the way, he’s blown head gaskets, he’s toasted transmissions, and he’s even bent connecting rods—all in an effort to test the limits of the 7.3L platform and prove that the HEUI-fired V8 can be competitive in the modern common-rail era.
With round after round of Index racing at 650 hp, the occasional attempt to break into the 10s at 900 hp, and spraying the truck to more than 1,200 hp on the chassis dyno all under his belt, Maier certainly did his part in proving what the 7.3L’s factory forged connecting rods could handle. But to bring more peace of mind into the equation, he decided to piece together a built engine in 2016. A balanced rotating assembly consists of the OEM crank (reinforced via a main bearing girdle), Carrillo rods, de-lipped and coated factory-based Mahle pistons, and a billet flex plate from Precision Industries. The stock cylinder heads feature Irate Diesel Performance beehive valve springs, while ARP studs fasten them to the block.
Aside from the internal engine upgrades, the rest of Maier’s parts combination is essentially a carbon copy of what he’s been running for the last six years. The same BorgWarner S467.7 turbo and Irate Diesel Performance T4 mount assembly produces and routes 60 psi or more of boost into the engine. The same Full Force Diesel 350/200 hybrid injectors sit under the valve covers, fed consistent fuel supply courtesy of an Irate competition system. And the same dual high-pressure oil pump system allows the injectors to perform at their full potential. Last but not least, Maier still depends on proven tuning from Gearhead Automotive Performance to get him down the track consistently, cleanly, and reliably.
Manually Shifted, Billet E4OD
After delayed or flared shifts cost him precious time and gear change inconsistencies cost him races, Maier devised a homemade shift box that let him take matters into his own hands. Now he can lock the converter whenever he wants and command each upshift at the precise interval he needs it. The shifts themselves are kept firm and crisp thanks to a Stage 4 transmission from Dorsey Diesel, which features a valve body that’s been custom-tailored to Maier’s needs. The four-speed automatic is also furnished with billet input, intermediate and output shafts, a billet overdrive planetary and forward drum, and a billet triple-disc converter from Diesel Performance Converters.
Fully Vetted, Old School Sleeper
Having conducted nearly a decade’s worth of his own personal R&D, Maier knows which parts allow you to get the absolute most out of a 7.3L Power Stroke—and his truck reflects that in every way. By keeping things simple and sticking to a proven parts combination, Maier’s OBS has inspired countless other 7.3L builds over the years. And who could overlook the fact that the truck’s factory Alcoas, stock-like ride height, and conventional-exit exhaust make it the ultimate sleeper?
1997 Ford F-250
Owner: Matt Maier
Hometown: Readyville, Tennessee
Odometer: 252,000 miles
Engine: 7.3L Power Stroke
Short Block: Irate Diesel Performance girdle, ARP main studs, Carrillo rods, de-lipped Mahle pistons coated by High Rev Technology, Precision Industries billet flex plate, Fluidampr harmonic balancer
Heads: Irate Diesel Performance competition valve spring kit, Smith Brothers chromoly pushrods, 6-angle valve job, ARP head studs
Fuel: Full Force Diesel 350/200 hybrid injectors, Irate Diesel Performance competition fuel supply system with Fuelab Prodigy pump and regulated return, Beans Diesel Performance fuel tank sump
Oil: Full Force Diesel dual HPOP system, Melling low-pressure oil pump
Air: Irate Diesel Performance T4 turbo mounting system, BorgWarner S467.7 with 1.10 A/R turbine housing and 360-degree thrust bearing upgrade, early ’99 aluminum Super Duty intercooler, Irate Diesel Performance 3-inch aluminum intake plenums
Exhaust: 3-inch Irate Diesel Performance downpipe, 4-inch MBRP system
Injectables: Nitrous Express-based nitrous system with two .125 solenoids for the track and additional .157 solenoid for the dyno, water injection (towing only)
Electronics: Power Hungry Performance Hydra Chip with custom tunes from Gearhead Automotive Performance, Isspro pyrometer, fuel pressure, boost, transmission temp gauges, Edge CS monitor
Transmission: Dorsey Diesel Stage 4 E4OD with DPC triple-disc stock stall converter, billet input, intermediate and output shafts, billet overdrive planet set and forward drum, hardened sun shell, Raybestos GPZ clutches, Derale Performance remote-mount 40-row transmission cooler, homemade shift box
Horsepower: 655 hp (fuel, track and dyno); 900 hp (nitrous, track); 1,226 hp (ghetto fog, dyno)
Torque: 1,280 lb-ft (fuel, dyno); 2,107 lb-ft (ghetto fog, dyno)
Tires: 305/70R16 BFGoodrich All Terrain
Wheels: 16×7-inch factory Alcoa
Axles/Suspension/Steering: Solid axle conversion with ’79 F-350 King Pin Dana 60 (front), ’95 F-350 front leaf springs, Warn premium hubs, 3.55 gears (front and rear), homemade 2×2-inch 0.25-inch wall traction bars with RuffStuff Specialties heim joints, Firestone air springs, Bilstein 4600 shocks (front and rear)