MICHAEL DALTON’S 2012 RAM DRAG TRUCK
Michael Dalton is the owner of RLC Motorsports in Cookville, Tennessee. Dalton is no stranger to fast rides as he successfully raced an 800hp, street-driven, fourth-generation Ram 2500 for several years. But he always wanted to build a 2WD diesel drag truck—so in 2015 he sold the 4WD, and purchased a 2012 Ram 2500 work truck for $8,000.
With a game plan in mind he turned to his friends at Wide Open Design in Murfreesboro, Tennessee, to partner with them on building the chassis. Throughout 2016, they built the chassis, focusing on the suspension and making it as light as possible while keeping it very strong. The chassis is fabricated from chromoly tubing and meets SFI 25.3 certifications.
The build team started with the factory chassis, removing the cab, bed, and drivetrain before stripping it down to bare frame rails and completely removing the suspension mounts in the front and rear of the frame. They decided to chop off most of the front and rear of the frame, leaving the section from the rear of the cab up to the front of the engine. For better weight transfer they set the heavy Cummins engine back 16 inches from a stock location.
Up front they designed the chassis to work with a Strange Engineering spindle and coilover strut with custom lower control arms and a Stiletto steering rack to minimize weight and allow adjustability where it was needed. Braking up front is handled by a set of Strange 11-inch slotted rotors and 4-piston Strange calipers. The chassis also supports the factory steel fenders, a sport model bumper and the factory aluminum hood.
A fully adjustable four-link setup was implemented in the rear of the chassis to allow for maximum chassis tuning ability. A pair of QA-1 doubleadjustable coilover shocks is used to tame the rear axle as the Ram launches off the line and travels down the track. Borrowing from their off-road roots, Dalton and the WOD team opted to go with a Spidertrax Pro Series fabricated axle housing with 4-inch axle tubes and Strange spindles, 11- inch slotted rotors and dual 4-piston brake calipers. The Spidertrax housing is stuffed with a Strange Engineering 9.5-inch Pro Lightweight spool and 9.5-inch Pro Gear ring and pinion set and 40-spline gun-drilled axle shafts to get the power to the massive Mickey Thompson slicks. The rear of the chassis also integrates the mounts for the factory steel sheet metal as well as the custom aluminum tonneau cover the WOD team fabricated.
Moving into the cab, the build team integrated seat mounts for Kirkey aluminum racing seats on both sides in case Dalton ever wants to take along a passenger. They also fabricated a new firewall and transmission tunnel to accommodate the set-back Cummins engine and Dodge 48RE transmission. To allow the cab to drop down onto the fabricated chassis and roll cage they removed the floor, rear window, and back wall of the cab. Then replaced the window with tinted Lexan and fabricated a bolt in rear firewall to keep the truck safe and legal. They also fabricated aluminum floor panels to combat any urge Dalton might have to imitate Fred Flintstone mode.
The crew at Wide Open also integrated many sets of tabs to mount weights throughout the chassis to adjust for track conditions and or to adjust the truck’s overall weight to fit within a specific race class. After the chassis was completed they had it powdercoated in silver to contrast well against the bright orange paint Dalton planned for the body. Unweighted, the completed truck crosses the scales at around 4,000 pounds. It will be set up to race at 4,500 pounds for Pro Street events or they can drop weight below 4,400 pounds to run the truck in the Pro Mod class if they desire. And with all the steel body panels and glass windows in the truck, they could drop several hundred more pounds by swapping to Lexan windows and fiberglass body panels if Dalton gets serious about running in the Pro Mod category.
Once the chassis was finished, Dalton and his build team turned their focus on the engine and transmission. They chose to stick with a tried-and-true 5.9L Cummins common rail engine and turned to the team at Donalson Diesel Performance to assemble it. A factory 5.9L Cummins crankshaft at the heart of the engine swings a set of Diamond pistons at the end of a set of R&R connecting rods with a Fluidamper balancer to keep it spinning smoothly. The valves are actuated by a Hamilton Cams camshaft through chromoly Hamilton pushrods and Hamilton valve springs. ARP studs and bolts are used throughout to hold everything together. Cooling is handled by an electric water pump and a Griffin aluminum radiator along with a Fleece Performance Engineering coolant bypass kit to equalize pressure and keep the freeze plugs in the engine. The engine is capped off with a Cummins valve cover that was treated to skullthemed hydro-dipped graphics by OldSkoolFab.
A single 88mm Garrett turbocharger is employed to keep the airflow high and simple. Spent exhaust gasses from the engine are fed to the turbo via a Steed Speed exhaust manifold then channeled out of the hood through a fabricated stainless steel pipe. The compressed intake charge leaves the Garrett turbo before traveling through a custom fabricated boost tube and into a Banks Power intercooler then back out through another fabricated boost tube and into the head through a fabricated intake elbow that is painted bright orange to match the truck.
Of course, with a lot of air available the engine will also need a lot of fuel to make good power. Fuel is pumped from the fabricated WOD fuel cell in the rear of the truck by a 250 GPH FASS fuel pump and filter system up to a pair of Fleece Performance Engineering PowerFlo stroker CP3s with one in the factory Cummins location and the other directly above it using an ATS Diesel dual CP3 mounting kit. From there, large volumes of high pressure fuel are delivered to a set of 300% over S&S Diesel Motorsport fuel injectors where it is sent into the engine. Tuning is handled by Ryan Milliken at Hardway Performance to maximize the engine’s performance. Dalton estimates that the engine is making around 1,400 hp and 1,900 lb-ft of torque. He also uses a small shot of nitrous oxide to help spool the charger on the line.
Power Transmission To handle the engine’s power and transmit it safely to the rear axle Dalton turned to Ron Wolverton and his team of transmission masters at SunCoast Diesel. They worked their magic on a Dodge 48RE transmission installing performance clutches and billet shafts to handle the power and incredible shock loads the transmission will experience when Dalton launches the truck off the line. The transmission is linked to the engine with a SunCoast SFI-certified flex plate and custom billet torque converter. Gear selection is handled by a pneumatically actuated Precision Performance Products shifter that is fed high pressure gas directly from the nitrous oxide bottle. Power is channeled from the SunCoast transmission to the Spidertrax rear end through a custom chromoly Strange Engineering drive shaft.
Finally, to wrap up things up the cab and body panels were handed off to the team at Cumberland Body Shop in Cookville, Tennessee, where everything was slathered in House of Kolor Tangelo Pearl paint that truly makes the truck stand out in any crowd. As the truck was assembled the RLC Motorsports team also installed the shell of the dash and retained the door panels and manual windows along with a Kirkey aluminum race seat and PRP five-point harnesses. They also wired the truck including a Racepak gauge package installed in the factory instrument panel location and the rest of the modules and harnessing mounted on the passenger side of the transmission tunnel.
Dalton’s 2WD diesel drag truck started as a dream and took many years to make it from his thoughts and ideas to a completed truck. But anyone who looks at it can easily see that it is a dream come true. Dalton and his team debuted the truck at the Diesel Thunder event in Holt, Florida, making 6.17- and 6.11 second passes at 117 mph right out of the trailer. At the last race of the ODSS season this year Dalton ran a 6.04 at 118 MPH in the Pro Mod class, further proving that this is definitely a truck to keep an eye on throughout the 2018 season and into the future.