Ludicrous Speed

Hypermax Engineering’s incredible 3,000-hp Dragster

Diesels are known for making some serious horsepower and torque, but if you want to skip past all that and go straight to ridiculous there’s the Hypermax dragster. By the numbers alone it’s an astounding vehicle. Six-second quarter-mile times and 3,000 horsepower from a 540 cid (8.8L) DT466-based engine. Engine speed is also wild, at a maximum redline of 6,000 rpm. Even the weight of the digger is massive at 3,600 pounds.

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Both the lift pump and the inline injection pump are gear-driven. Although they didn’t give any flow figures, we expect that the fueling from the Hypermax-designed 15mm pump is massive.

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If you’re thinking a wild DT466-based stroker engine is a tight fit in a dragster chassis, you’d be right! In addition to the engine itself (which probably weighs 1,500-2,000 pounds with fluids and turbos), Hypermax also had to package a dry-sump oiling system and a number of other accessories to the side of the inline engine.

Pulling Roots

Based out of Gilberts, llinois, Hypermax Engineering is a company that’s known throughout the industry for making sled-pulling parts for both tractors and pickups. Occasionally they venture out of their comfort zone, like in ’06, when they built a 215mph, 6.0L-powered Ford Ranger. Even more ambitious was their dragster project, which has been in the works for a number of years. The idea was to take a proven tractor pulling platform and show the world what it could do on the drag strip.

A Pound-Foot Per Pound

Before the team could go racing, however, they needed a chassis that would be up to the monumental task of handling 3,500 lb-ft of torque. For that task they turned to Spitzer Race cars, which built a chassis that would be up to the task. The rest of the driveline is equally stout, with a three-speed Lenco transmission backed up by a four-disc Molinari clutch. The rear end is your standard Top Alcohol piece from Strange Engineering with a “top secret” gear ratio.

But the real conversation piece is the engine, which is a bored-and-stroked, International DT466-based, 2,000-pound monster. The 8.8L engine is all Hypermax from the ground up, including the block, crank, rods and pistons, which are Hypermax’s own design. Boost is an insane 250 psi thanks to triple turbochargers that are “more than 4 inches” on the intake side and “more than 5 inches” on the turbine side. The fuel system has comparably stout numbers, as a 15mm inline pump of Hypermax’s own design sends fuel to mammoth mechanical injectors.

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Hypermax also builds turbos, and with the massive displacement of the engine they were able to get away with a turbo that’s “at least 4 inches” in inducer diameter, even on the manifold turbo.

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The twin 4-plus-inch atmospheric turbochargers are a big part of the engine’s 3,000-horsepower rating. The low-pressure twin turbos and high-pressure single combine to produce 250 psi of boost!

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Running Sixes

Jerry LaGod has indicated that their P-pump 7.3L business has exploded over the past couple years, but they’ve still had time for Top Alcohol racer Marty Thacker to make a few runs. After almost immediately running 7s, the team has progressed to running a best of 6.69 at 216 mph in the quarter mile and garnering an NHRDA national event win in the process. We don’t know what the future holds for Hypermax’s wild monster, but one thing’s for sure. For those who’ve gotten to witness it, it’s truly a sight to behold.

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The intake side on the Hypermax dragster is a plumber’s nightmare of valves, lines, couplers, flanges and reinforcement braces that make everything work without blowing apart at immense boost pressures.

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A Browell bellhousing hides a 4-disc Molinari clutch and helps the dragster get down the track. The transmission is a three-speed Lenco planetary gear transmission that has more or less held up to the power of the 6,000 rpm engine.

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With space in a dragster already at a premium, there’s not much of a driveshaft to speak of, but rather a slip-coupler that transmits power to the rear axle.

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The cockpit of the digger is all business. Driver Marty Thacker mostly focuses on the sideways tachometer and shift light that tells him when to grab gears.

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An enormous amount of torque and twist is sent to the rear axle when the dragster launches. Hypermax was quiet on what exactly was in the Strange rear end, but our guess is that it’s one of their 10.5-inch live axles with some very tall gearing.

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To hold the dragster at the line, four rear calipers (two per side) are used. This enables the dragster to slip the clutch and build boost when staging.


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Twin parachutes are required whenever travelling 200 mph or more­—and at the dragster’s weight, it definitely needs them.


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A set of immense Goodyear Eagle slicks mounted on beadlock wheels keep the dragster stuck to the track during launches that can exceed 2G in acceleration.


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Dragsters are a straight-line-only deal, which means they can get away with a very light front-end setup, including spindle-mount wheels, tiny tires and no front brakes.

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