Running the Gauntlet at ATS Diesel
How much power does it make? This is perhaps the first question that’s asked of any hot rod, diesel or otherwise. Dyno numbers are great for bragging rights, and winners can carry their accomplishments for entire years and beyond. For the past few springs, ATS Diesel in Arvada, Colorado, has held an annual dyno throwdown just as the winter weather starts to thaw. Competitors have come from all over the country and Canada for this $500 buy-in, winner-takes-all event. This year it’s ten trucks, one dyno, and it’s anyone’s game. Welcome to ATS Diesel’s 2018 Gauntlet Challenge and Let-It-Roll Dyno Day.
First up was a quick driver’s meeting with Clint Cannon, the owner of ATS. The rules were simple: Overall score would be determined by horsepower and torque combined, any amount of turbos or power-adders were legal, and the truck had to drive off the dyno under its own power. The last rule is more of a safety issue, as time-bomb trucks can be dangerous to both owners and spectators. Each competitor would get 30 minutes to make as much power as he could, with last year’s winner Randy Reyes choosing to be the final tester so he could defend his title. Outside, there was a truck show and also a second dyno that was rolling all day thanks to the Northwest Dyno Circuit (NWDC) that had its own group of classes. With the rollers on the Mustang and Superflow dynos warmed up, it was time to hit it!
TENTH PLACE: JUSTIN SHERBA
Sherba’s common-rail-motivated Dodge was one of the players shooting for 1,500+ horsepower to the wheels, which makes his tenth-place finish all the more heartbreaking. A fueling issue made the truck think it was naturally aspirated on the dyno, so the engine didn’t make any boost. Although “165 hp” briefly flashed up on the screen, the truck wasn’t able to make it all the way through the dyno run, leading to a “Did Not Finish” result. Sherba later fixed the truck, ran on the Northwest Dyno Circuit’s Superflow and put down 1,355 rwhp, indicating what might have been.
NINTH PLACE: CHRIS KREBS
514 HP + 1,175 LB-FT = 1,689 TOTAL SCORE
Chris Krebs’s VP44-equipped Dodge has been in the 10-second zone and was shooting for the 1,000 rwhp mark with his “obsolete” technology. Unfortunately he also had issues, as simple electrical gremlins limited him to 2,300 rpm and a 1,689 total score. Outside on the Northwest Dyno Circuit’s Superflow, Krebs put down a more representative 730 no-nitrous horsepower—but, alas, it was too late to count toward the Gauntlet Challenge.
EIGHTH PLACE: CHRIS ROSSCUP
984 HP + 1,458 LB-FT = 2,442 TOTAL SCORE
In eighth place was the first truck that didn’t have major issues: Chris Rosscup’s ’02 Chevrolet. If the name sounds familiar, that’s because he was a competitor in last year’s challenge, as well as the Ultimate Callout Challenge in 2016. Even though Rosscup made a strong run, the compound-turbocharged, Duramax-powered Chevy was just short of the 1,000 hp mark, laying down a 984 hp pull.
SEVENTH PLACE: TRAVIS TURNER
891 HP + 1,552 LB-FT = 2,443 TOTAL SCORE
Probably the closest battle of the whole competition was between Chris Rosscup and Travis Turner, who was also running a compound-turbo, Duramax-motivated ride. Even though Turner was nearly 100 hp short of Rosscup’s number, the big engine got going early and made enough oomph to clinch the sixth-place spot by a single point. We have a feeling Turner’s ride sees its fair share of street time, making his truck all the more impressive.
SIXTH PLACE: SCOTT LINDSEY
1,540 HP + 1,661 LB-FT = 3,201 TOTAL SCORE
The competition started to get serious as we come to Scott Lindsey, as the top six trucks were separated by only 400 points on horsepower and torque combined! Finishing second in horsepower, Lindsey’s street truck turned drag truck was able to lay down a whopping 1,540 hp at a mind-bending 5,100 rpm. The large triple turbos and high-winding engine actually hurt him on his overall score, as a low torque number meant that sixth place was all he could muster once the torque was factored in.
FIFTH PLACE: DEREK BELEROT
1,253 HP + 1,956 LB-FT = 3,219 TOTAL SCORE
Up just 18 points ahead of Scott Lindsey was Derek Belerot, who brought a Cummins-powered drag truck to the party. Even at first glance, Belerot was one to watch, as the twin parachutes on his Dodge hinted at crazy power. Just like Lindsey, Belerot had triple turbos and lots of rpm at his disposal, but his torque number was a bit better, which meant that he was able to nose Lindsey out for fifth place.
FOURTH PLACE: TYLER KIPP
1,306 HP + 1,928 LB-FT = 3,234 TOTAL SCORE
You might think that Tyler Kipp had brought a knife to a gunfight, as his two-wheel drive was packing a single 88 mm turbocharger compared to all these triple-turbo monsters. However, Kipp’s truck was no slouch and had already put down 1,100 hp with its single on a number of occasions. For the Gauntlet Challenge he added two small shots of nitrous to the mix, which bumped his power up to an impressive 1,306 hp and 1,928 lb-ft torque. And then there were three.
THIRD PLACE: DUSTIN DAVIS
1,287 HP + 2,065 LB-FT = 3,352 TOTAL SCORE
Just like Chris Rosscup, the Gomer’s US Diesel Parts entry has been a consistent competitor in the challenge for the last few years. Unlike some of the others, Davis really concentrated on starting the run low and cranking out the torque with his Cummins engine, and he was the first competitors to break the 2,000 lb-ft mark with a 2,065 lb-ft pull. Despite having a lower horsepower than the other top six, the big torque number put Davis’s Ram over the top, leading to a score of 3,353 points, which was good enough for third place.
SECOND PLACE: RYAN PHAFF
1,360 HP + 2,047 LB-FT = 3,407 TOTAL SCORE
Probably the most unique truck at the event belonged to Ryan Phaff, who had come all the way from Canada to make it to the challenge. After a trip from hell, Phaff finally made it with his Ram, which looked sort of stock-ish from in front of the driver’s door. Start walking around the truck and that sense evaporates, as a fender-exit exhaust, four-link rear suspension and aluminum floorboards all scream “race truck.” After dropping more than 1,000 pounds, Phaff concentrated on power and built a deckplated 6.4-Liter Cummins engine with enormous 88mm turbos that blow into a 98mm manifold charger, which feeds an air-to-water intercooler. To say expectations were high is an understatement, as the truck had just put down 2,050 hp on a different dyno before the event. Once the rollers started spinning, the black Dodge immediately started bellowing smoke and filled the dyno room. We heard an ear-splitting roar through the smoke, and Phaff’s Ram laid down… 1,360 hp. Was it the dyno? Was something wrong with the tune or truck? Was it spinning on the rollers? A roller speed equivalent of 3,700 rpm didn’t match the truck’s Racepak, which registered 5,500 rpm and told the story. Phaff just simply couldn’t hook his power up.
KING OF THE DYNO: RANDY REYES
1,603 HP + 2,004 LB-FT = 3,607 TOTAL SCORE
Randy Reyes won the ATS challenge last year and was sure to show up in 2018 to defend his crown. His big red dually has backed up its dyno numbers with 9-second passes at 150 mph on the dragstrip, and with three turbos and three injection pumps was the favorite coming into this year’s event. Reyes hit the dyno with everything he had on his first pull and cranked out an unreal 1,603 rwhp and 2,004 lb-ft torque. With a single pull he’d won by the numbers, and went to pull his monster dually off the dyno. But the drama didn’t end there. Something was amiss, and as it pulled off the dyno the truck sputtered and died a few feet short of the “make or break” line that signaled a full run and a successful drive-off. If Reyes couldn’t make it past the line, Phaff would win. With 30 minutes alotted to make dyno pulls, Reyes had about 20 minutes left after his one dyno run to move another three feet and take the victory. A huge crowd gathered as he cranked so hard he nearly set his batteries on fire. With just a few minutes to spare, the Ram fired up and sputtered over the finish line, signaling Reyes’s second win in a row.