Building on the success of the Diesel Truck Series (DTS) event held last year at the Atlanta Motor Speedway (see Diesel World, July 2014), organizers brought the show to Knoxville, Tennessee, this June. The Knoxville DTS event featured something for everyone who’s a diesel fan. There was a diesel dyno competition, Show ’N’ Shine, vendor exhibits, dirt drag racing and sled pulls, all of which kept the crowd of nearly 3,000 spectators entertained throughout the day.
Everyone loves a bargain and getting more than you paid for is a bonus that people appreciate in all aspects of life. This applies to diesel motorsports too, and we saw it come true for spectators and competitors alike at the Diesel Truck Series Knoxville event. With general admission coming in at only $15, free parking and admission for kids eight years and down, spectators got a full day’s worth of diesel action at a bargain price. The competitors got a bargain too, with low entry fees and good payouts. They had the chance to walk away with cash in their pockets. Also, regardless of winning or not, a reasonable entry fee meant the chance to have fun in their diesel truck(s) in one or more events.
The advertised total purse of nearly $11,000 helped draw some of the best trucks in the area to vie for the large payouts in all the competition classes. Chilhowee Park near the Knoxville Zoo played host to the diesel event. There was plenty of nearby parking for spectators. Space allowed for the dyno and Show ’N’ Shine to be behind the main grandstands of the pull track rather than far afield. There was even a designated “For Sale” section for diesel trucks that allowed sellers and buyers to find each other in a neutral location. They could strike up a deal or at least check out the diesel action while hanging out with friends and family.
Park gates opened at 8 a.m. with Show ’N’ Shine participants rolling in and using the morning to make sure their trucks were clean and polished in hopes of taking home their share of the cash prizes. In addition to the vendor displays, the local Dodge, Ford, and Chevrolet dealers had new trucks on display to show off their latest factory offerings.
Spectator voting determined the Show ’N’ Shine winners in each of three categories. Owners of the trucks with the most votes by the manufacturer won $200. There was also an additional $200 and a plaque given to the truck/owner with the most overall votes. With $800 up for grabs and a low $20 entry fee, there were a lot of entries for the competition. The Dodge truck that received the most votes was a 2006 2500 that belonged to Logan Hardesly of Loudon, Tennessee, while the best GM award went to a 2007 Chevy 2500 driven by Knoxville local Corey Smith. The Ford and overall awards came with the surprising announcement that Knoxville local Amy Hill and her 1996 Ford F-350 received more votes than the over-the-top Ford show truck built by the crew at WAR Diesel Recovery. We assume that the Knoxville crowd attending the DTS event and voting in the Show ’N’ Shine contest give more weight to daily drivability than show-stopping over-the-top builds, and we can appreciate that.
While the show truck guys and gals were busy, owners more interested in horsepower chomped at the bit to get their trucks on the Dyno Dynamics chassis dyno, which was operated by the Fast Enough dyno crew. The trucks started spinning the dyno rollers at around 9 a.m. Owners attempted to lay down the highest horsepower number of the day in order to take home their share of the $800 prize purse on the line for the dyno portion of the DTS event.
A total of 25 diesel enthusiasts attacked the dyno with their trucks, leading to some bitter disappointment and some celebration. At this event, the dyno numbers did seem lower than what we’re accustomed to seeing out of similar trucks. The dyno may have been stingy, but it did seem consistent with each dyno pull. With the same dyno used for everyone, the numbers were comparable regardless of the lower dyno readouts seen.
Jeremy Self used his 2007 Ford to deliver 581.4 horsepower to the rollers as the highest-powered Ford of the day, while the highest-powered GM was just a touch higher with 587.1 hp from Phillip Mullet’s Duramax-powered GMC. Two Cummins-powered Dodge trucks bested the rest of the field with runs of more than 600 horsepower spun across the rollers. Will Riner took home the top honors among the Dodge competitors while putting up the highest horsepower measurement of the day at 696.1 horsepower with his 2006 Dodge.
The dirt drags got under way at about 2 p.m. with drivers taking practice passes to get a feel for the track as well as the tree and braking points. Coming in at 250-ft., the short track provided great side-by-side heads-up racing action, but the short shutdown area after the finish line proved to be a challenge for a few of the drivers who stayed on the skinny pedal to the last possible moment, stopping just short of the tree line at the end of the track. On one of his winning passes, Matt Maier pushed his OBS Ford about 2 ft. into the tree line, but only suffered a few scratches on the hood and bumper with no permanent damage to his stout 7.3L truck. Round after round, Maier put truck after truck on the trailer while working his way through the field to the final round against Brad Lilly and his Chevy. Maier’s Ford made the Blue Oval fans in the crowd happy, taking out the Chevy for the event win and earning the bulk of the $500 dirt drag racing purse.
After the final round of the dirt drags, the Diesel Truck Series crew went to work getting the track ready for the main event with four classes of sled pulling action. The first truck hooked to the sled at about 4:30 in the Workstock/2.5 class where $2,400 in prize money was up for grabs with payouts down to fifth place. The early start time allowed for all the pulling to be handled in daylight and let spectators and competitors get home at a decent hour, which was much appreciated by all in attendance. The track was rather dry and dusty, but the trucks still managed to put the power to the ground and get the sled down the track.
While a couple drivers had problems most of the Workstock field pulled very well with the top five trucks all pulling more than 290 ft. Hank Carlton and his 2003 Chevrolet had the field covered, though, and ran away with the win by putting more than 17 ft. on second place Justin Goode with pulls of 326- and 309-ft. respectively. As is typical of most events featuring a Workstock class, it was the most popular class of the day with more entries than any of the other classes, with drivers ready to give it their all to put their truck on the top of the box. The third spot on the podium went to Nick Hicks and his 1995 Dodge that also broke the 300-ft. barrier.
The next class to pull was the 2.6 class where some of the best trucks in the Southeast squared off for their share of the $2,600 purse. Showing the high caliber of competition this “local” event drew—the 2013 and 2014 2.6 class-winning trucks from the TS Outlaw event lined up to get their chance at the sled. They did not disappoint either, with Eric Whitfield and his “Southern Hooker” maintaining its dominance in the class by putting more than 30 ft. on Joe Underwood’s “The Bandit” truck that was driven by Anthony Cook since Underwood was unable to get away from work obligations. Whitfield pulled a distance of 333 ft. for the longest pull of the day with Cook making it 299 ft. and William Garrard and his 2003 Chevrolet pulling 295 ft. in his attempt to keep up with the dominant Dodges of Whitfield and Cook.
Outlaw class pullers took to the sled next with several trucks stepping up from the 2.6 class to run in the Outlaw as well. Whitfield suffered clutch problems that left the Southern Hooker at the back of the pack, being pulled off the track on a strap. Cook took advantage of the additional 500 lbs. allowed in the class and yanked the sled along for a 325-ft. ride that was more than enough to take home the first place portion of the $2,600 prize purse. He was followed by Joseph Hardy and his Dodge that pulled nearly 310 ft. in his second place run. The final spot on the podium went to Jamie Standard and his Chevy that managed a distance of 284 ft.
To round out the pulling action, the Street class took to the track for their chance at the $1,000 purse. The seven entries were well matched with one having problems and the other six pulling between 270 and 300 ft. Local Knoxville resident Jesse Harper used his 2004 Chevrolet to show the out-of-towners that the locals could win too. He dragged the sled an even 299 ft. in his winning effort, finishing less than 3 ft. ahead of second place finisher Rob Pennington and his 2011 Chevy. John Gross made it a GM sweep of the Street class podium with his 2007 GMC pulling the sled 283 ft. for third place honors.
The Diesel Truck Series Knoxville event was a fun event that had a lot of good trucks on display throughout the day. If you were not able to make it out to the event in person this year, follow along to see what you missed. For more information on Diesel Truck Series Knoxville events be sure to look them up online and if you can attend an event go for it, you’ll be glad you did! DW
Chilhowee Park & Exposition Center
Diesel Truck Series Knoxville
Fast Enough Dyno Crew
MBS Diesel Performance