Florida Truck Fest

The Sunshine State’s Premier Event Returns

It doesn’t take much to lure us down to Florida in the middle of winter. As if 80-degree weather, ample sunshine and ocean views aren’t enough of a draw, throw in diesel drag racing, dynoing, a little bumper-to-bumper action and we’re sold. After the success of the inaugural Florida Truck Fest in 2017, the folks at Bradenton Motorsports Park decided to pencil it in as an annual affair. This time around, the show ’n shine competition would meet its 100-truck limit in short order, the quarter-mile drag strip would heat up with Quick Diesel, 10.5 Index, 12.0 Index and Bracket classes, and a mobile chassis dyno would be kept busy throughout the day.

For the grand finale, fans were treated to a knock-down, drag-out tug o’ war competition between a group of mega trucks. Once the smoke had settled, the mud-intended monstrosities proved why they’re just as impressive on asphalt as they are buried in mire. Judging by the spectator turnout—which continued to balloon as the day wore on—it’s obvious there is a strong truck culture down in the Sunshine State. And with more than a dozen loyal sponsors dedicated to its success, we look forward to seeing this event continue to grow. If you find yourself in the greater Bradenton/Sarasota region next February be sure to work this one into your schedule.

The 6.7L mill under the hood of Jonathan Wayne (Jon Wayne) Coblentz’s ¾-ton Ram sports a 146,000-mile factory bottom end, 250% over injectors, Motorsport Diesel dual CP3s and a single S476 from Forced Inductions. Thanks to Hardway Performance tuning and a SunCoast transmission, the truck has cleared as much as 1,075 hp and 1,700 lb-ft on the chassis dyno.
Veteran drag racer and local shop owner Jonathan Wayne Coblentz tried his hand in both the Quick Diesel and 12.0 Index classes, and after a few test hits in his full-weight, quad-cab Ram he ran a blazing 10.69 at 123 mph. A few hours later he would claim First Place in Quick Diesel and take the runner-up spot in 12.0 Index.
Ryan Watrous would be one of the most consistent racers to grace the track at Bradenton Motorsports Park. After kicking things off with a 12.8-second test pass, his Duramax would run no slower than a 12.1 the rest of the day.
For the second year in a row the crowd favorite was the tug o’ war competition between the Florida mega trucks. One rig that’s well-known for putting on a good show is the JH Diesel and 4×4 Super Duty owned by Justin Hildebrand. Driven here by fellow mega truck owner Steve Maus, the heavily fueled 6.0L Power Stroke has no problem lighting up each 66-inch tractor tire.
In the more advanced classes such as 12.0 Index and Quick Diesel a 4/10 pro tree was used. In the E.T. Bracket Class a sportsman tree was run. With 13.30 written on the rear window, this ¾-ton Ram spent the day chasing its dial-in. By the end of the afternoon the driver had progressed from a 13.66 to a 13.35—all at the same 98 mph.
Event sponsor Jake White of White’s Diesel Performance sent his OBS Ford down the track in a hurry, storming the quarter in as little as 12.68 seconds. In the past, and on spray, the big-injector, twin-HPOP, single turbo’d 7.3L has gone high 10s, but unfortunate transmission gremlins kept the truck off its usual pace this time around.
Dustin Skinner’s’15 Ford F-250 showed everyone what a regular-cab, 6.7L Power Stroke is capable of with just a tune. After collecting a 13.99-second timeslip at the conclusion of his first pass, Skinner improved his launch and nabbed a 13.89 at 97 mph on the second. His sub-14-second race file was written by Performance Calibrations Inc.
It’s always nice to see a dually getting after it in the quarter-mile and this 4-ton Dodge 3500 made high 12s look easy. After making a 14.1-second warm-up pass, the driver turned in an impressive 12.8 at 112 mph effort.
Thanks to Florida’s mud-rich landscape, mega trucks and swamp buggies are common toys down in the citrus state. We always get a kick out of seeing the craftsmanship and ingenuity that’s built into these custom tractor-tired behemoths. As a bonus, most of the mega trucks we came across were diesel-powered.
After a hard launch yielded a violent toe-in scenario, this big-tire Silverado backed down the boost on subsequent passes. The crew-cab Bow Tie was good for low-smoke, mid-14-second passes.
Before the tug o’ war competition got underway, a “grudge tug” of sorts was held by track personnel. In the end, the golf cart on the left had the most juice, inching out a hard-fought win.

Throw in diesel drag racing, dynoing, and a little bumper-to-bumper action and we’re sold

There is no shortage of uber-clean second-gens in Florida. And even though this manually shifted Dodge wasn’t setting the world on fi re, watching an old 24-valve go down the track was nice to see.
Nick Draganov’s swamp buggy is the ultimate party barge in the mud. It sports seating for four, plenty of room for coolers and a commanding view of everything beneath it.
Did we mention Draganov’s swamp buggy is Cummins powered? For the ultimate in simplicity, it’s propelled through the mud courtesy of a 12-valve.
A handful of duallies showed up to run test ’n tune or compete in the bracket class. This paint-matched Chevy Silverado 3500 proved the fastest of the lot, hauling the mail to the tune of 13.50s at just under 100 mph.
Under the hood of the aforementioned 13-second Chevy dually we found an LB7 graced with a single-turbo kit from HSP Diesel. In place of the factory IHI charger sat a BorgWarner S300 SX-E.
With overdrive gone in the NV4500, Wilson left “Flatty” in fourth gear while aboard Florida Diesel’s mobile chassis dyno, where it would lay down a best of 680 hp and 1,420 lb-ft of torque. Florida Diesel’s load cell dyno, a 15000 series Dynocom, was on hand from morning ’til dusk.
Bruce Wilson’s flatbed second-gen definitely caught our attention. Nicknamed “Flatty,” Wilson (owner of nearby After Hours Diesel) put the 12-valve Cummins-powered, NV4500-equipped Dodge through its paces on the dragstrip. After a 15-second first pass, Wilson pulled the fuel plate, launched in third gear and piloted the old Dodge to a 13.6. Unfortunately, fifth gear would let go later in the day and sideline it from any further trips through the 1320.
A whole host of big-name companies set up shop in a sprawling manufacturer midway, including Hostile Wheels. Whether you’re after a subtle set of 20x9s or massive 24x14s, the company offers more than 30 8-lug wheel options at the present time.
The Duramax-powered regular cab Chevy owned by Steve and Amy Maus (right) is known for winning a lot of the tug o’ war competitions it enters. Here, Amy inches Jimmy Joe Mosley’s 6.0L-powered, ’08-10 front-clip Super Duty backward. The crowd loved the look of the dual-rear-wheel setup on Mosley’s Ford, and so did we.
After being parking it in the show ’n shine competition for most of the day, the owner of this sky-high second-gen proved it was more than just a show truck. He wasted no time getting all four rear American Force 22.5s turning during the burnout contest.
Running low- to mid-14s in the 95mph range on what we’ll assume was a tune alone, this 6.7L-powered, crew-cab, long-bed Super Duty was no joke. Because this is about as far as most Ford owners venture into performance add-ons, it illustrates what tens of thousands of ’11-16 Super Duties are capable of.
The final round of the heads-up Quick Diesel category came down to Jonathan Wayne Coblentz (tower side) pitted against Ryan Watrous and his ultra-consistent Duramax. With Coblentz’s Ram having run a mid-10 on the day, it was heavily favored to take the win. Although both Coblentz and Watrous were quick on the tree, the Duramax’s 12.1 at 110 mph was no match for Coblentz’s 11.25 at 121 mph.


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