Rocket on Wheels!

If this first-generation Lightning doesn’t look familiar to you, it should. The infamous Pro Street F-150 has been an on-again, off-again regular on the diesel drag racing scene for the better part of a decade. Over the years, the truck has perpetually gone faster and faster, and its biography reads like a 10-second countdown. It has been in the 10s, gone 9s, currently runs in the 8s, and could soon be in the 7s…

The common-rail Cummins powering Dustin Jackson’s ’94 Lightning was put together by Freedom Racing Engines, the engine building and R&D arm of Fleece Performance Engineering. Called the Comp 6.4, it features a sleeved 6.7L block (hence the lower displacement), Haisley Machine girdle, ARP 14mm main studs, Carrillo connecting rods, forged-aluminum Diamond Racing pistons, and a high-lift Hamilton cam. A Fleece Stage II cylinder head with oversize valves, Hamilton valve springs and push tubes, and 14mm ARP head studs resides up top. To keep the head gasket alive at more than 120 psi of boost, fire-rings are incorporated in the Comp 6.4 engine, and protrude into both the block and head.
A pair of BorgWarner S400-based turbos from Forced Inductions act as one giant atmospheric unit in Jackson’s two-stage, triple-turbo arrangement. Each S400SX-76R charger features a billet 76mm (inducer) compressor wheel, 87mm (exducer) turbine wheel, and a stainless steel Tial turbine housing with a V-band inlet flange. Both turbo oil drains were integrated into the chassis courtesy of Fleece Performance Engineering.
The second stage of compression employs an S400-ET-R, also from Forced Inductions. It makes use of a billet 88mm (inducer) compressor wheel, 96mm (exducer) turbine wheel, 1.32 A/R turbine housing, and mounts to a Stainless Diesel T6 Monster Foot exhaust manifold. All intercooler and exhaust piping was fabricated by the folks at Fleece.
With two stages of turbocharging and triple-digit boost pressure, intake temps can get out of hand in a hurry. To keep the temperature in check, this water-to-air intercooler from Precision Turbo & Engine is employed, and resides on the passenger side of the cab. Here you can also see some of the recent roll cage improvements, in which thicker-walled yet lighter-weight 4130 chromoly tubing was required in various areas to meet the newest SFI 25.6 specification.

After dipping into the 9s courtesy of a nitrous-fed 7.3L and then pushing into the 8s with a Cummins under the hood, you could say the Lightning’s former owner, Zane Koch, built up a bit of a reputation with the truck. This reputation wasn’t lost on Dustin Jackson, and he leapt at the chance to buy the old Ford when it came up for sale in 2015. “The truck always turned heads and laid down good numbers,” he told us. “I’d known about its track record for quite a while.”

Comp 6.4 Cummins

Unfortunately, the 6.7L Cummins in the Lightning spun a rod bearing on its first test pass of 2016. Undeterred by the failure, Jackson decided to upgrade to one of the toughest race-ready common-rail engines on the market today: a Comp 6.4 Cummins from Fleece Performance Engineering. The 6.7L-based cast-iron block is sleeved and machined to accept fire rings, along with 14mm main and head studs. It utilizes the factory crankshaft, secured via a Haisley Machine girdle, to swing a set of Carrillo rods and forged-aluminum Diamond Racing pistons.

Dual 12mm CP3s from S&S Diesel Motorsport supply in excess of 30,000 psi worth of rail pressure for a set of custom Dynomite Diesel Performance injectors to use. Also note the Banks Big Hoss intake manifold, which complements Fleece’s high-flowing Stage II cylinder head.
Efficient horsepower and torque transfer begins with a Rossler-built TH-400 automatic. The aftermarket Turbo 400 case is stuffed with larger clutches, 300M material shafts, and sports a Neal Chance lock-up torque converter within an aluminum Browell bell housing.
Handling the TH-400’s gear changes is an air shifter from Precision Performance Products. To save weight, simplify things, and make use of the nitrous bottles already being used to spool the truck at the starting line, the air shifter is activated via N2O.
To ensure the CP3s never run out of low-pressure fuel supply, twin AirDog II systems are utilized. The 200gph lift pumps mounted at the rear of the bed rails pull fuel from a bed-mounted 7-gallon polyethylene fuel cell.
During staging, a transmission brake and nitrous spool kit help bring the truck up to where it needs to be for an ideal launch, which Jackson tells us is about 40 psi of boost. A bump box is used to inch forward with the engine singing and the turbos up on boost.

A high-lift camshaft from Hamilton Cams rounds out the exotic hard parts found in the bottom end.

A four-link rear suspension and adjustable coilover shocks from Chris Alston’s ChassisWorks allow the truck to squat and hook the way you’d expect from an 8-second vehicle. The rear axle is a Strange Engineering Pro-Race 9.5 equipped with a spool and 3.25 gears.

Competition Cylinder Head

Maximizing airflow into and out of the 6.4L Cummins is a 24-valve common-rail head, transformed into one of Fleece’s Stage II units. The worked-over head was cut for fire rings, treated to extensive port work, and fitted with oversize valves (2mm larger than stock). Competition valve springs and extreme duty push tubes from Hamilton Cams reinforce the valvetrain, and 14mm ARP studs anchor the head to the block.

Anyone who’s ever been around the old body style Fords knows that the factory frame leaves much to be desired in the rigidity department. Luckily for Jackson, the stock frame rails had already been boxed in when he purchased the truck from its former owner, Zane Koch.

2 Lift Pumps, 2 CP3s

The Comp 6.4 engine’s healthy diet of diesel begins with two 200gph AirDog II fuel systems pulling fuel from a 7-gallon cell mounted in the bed. From there, twin 12mm S&S Diesel Motorsport CP3s pressurize fuel, while a set of proprietary injectors from Dynomite Diesel Performance inject massive amounts of fuel in a very short window. Tuning was handled by Ryan Milliken of Hardway Performance, courtesy of EFI Live and a 5.9L ECU.

Due to the inherent light weight of a half-ton Ford (and thanks to a recent diet), Jackson’s Lightning tips the scales at just 4,510 pounds with him in the driver seat. But while competing at the Pro Street weight minimum is a plus, Jackson has one more card up his sleeve: The wick is yet to be completely turned up on his engine. If this truck hooks with a couple hundred more ponies making it to the ground, it could sail past its 7.99-second certification.

3 Turbos & Water-to-Air

As you can imagine, with a sleeved, girdled, and fire-ringed Cummins saddled with 2,100hp worth of fuel, Jackson has no misgivings about the kind of boost he throws at it. A two-stage triple-turbo arrangement begins with a pair of Forced Inductions S476 units acting as a large atmosphere charger, while an S488 (also from Forced Inductions) mounts to a T6 flanged Stainless Diesel exhaust manifold. The twice-compressed intake air passes through a Precision Turbo & Engine water-to-air intercooler, and then a Banks Big Hoss intake manifold before entering the engine.

Thanks to help from Hardway Performance, Fleece Performance Engineering, Dynomite Diesel Performance, and AirDog, Jackson thinks the best is yet to come for his old-school Lightning. After all, he already managed an 8.40-second pass with little effort in 2016—and that was prior to its recent chassis updates. “I believe we can do 8 flat right now, but I’m gonna push to get into the 7s,” he told us.

Rossler Turbo 400

To get as much power to the ground as possible without overwhelming the rear slicks, Jackson turned to one of the biggest names in the gasoline world: Rossler Transmissions. The diesel-prepped TH-400 is fitted with 300M billet shafts, a Neal Chance lockup torque converter, and a Precision air shifter handles upshifts. The combination of the Turbo 400, 3.25 ring and pinion ratio, and 34-inch slicks mean a top speed of 175 mph is theoretically possible.

The infamous flat-black Lightning has always been known for its hard launches and on occasion even pulling the front wheels off the ground. This shot was taken back when the truck was still being propelled by a 7.3L and clicking off 9.90s. In its current low-8-second trim, cutting 1.3-second 60-foots is the norm, and with the recent chassis improvements performed on the truck Jackson should be able to get out of the hole even quicker.

Hunting Sevens

In late 2016, Jackson finally got to make his first full-power pass on the new engine and transmission combination at the NHRDA World Finals. But after storming through the 1320 in 8.4 seconds (at a blazing 167 mph), it was immediately apparent that the truck had outgrown its 8.50-second chassis certification. To make the truck legal again, it spent the winter at Fleece Performance Engineering receiving chassis updates. As we went to press, the Lightning was the first Pro Street truck in the country to meet the new SFI 25.6 spec—meaning it can now make a 7.99-second pass legally. With plenty of horsepower still on the table, we can’t help but wonder how long it will take for him to once again outrun the truck’s chassis certification. DW

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