AT THE 2017 WAGLER DIESEL COMPETITION
The Wagler Diesel Competition has always had the goal of stepping up the traditional diesel show with the addition of live music to their two-day events—but this year, Jeremy Wagler and his team wanted to take it further. After the excitement of the high-speed drag racing at the UCC event as well as Wagler’s friendship with Street Outlaw legends Farm Truck, AZN, and Jeff Lutz, the decision was made to add a third day for some drag racing competition. Wagler wanted to use the occasion to help bridge the gap between gas and diesel drag racers with five simple classes, four of which could burn either fuel. The stage was set for an epic and unique diesel event June 9-11, 2017, in Eldora and Lyons, Indiana, just a few miles from the home of Wagler Competition Products in Odin.
Friday and Saturday were set to host a show-n-shine as well as a dyno competition on the Diesel Doctor’s dyno throughout both days, with sled pulling starting each evening. It’s common in dyno battles to have categories for top Chevy, Dodge, and Ford, which were implemented at WDC. But Wagler again wanted a unique aspect to the rollers and added a fourth category, King of the Dyno, for race-level performers to enter and wow the crowd. Plenty of nitrous was sprayed to push the winning trucks to four-digit horsepower levels in all classes. Vinnie Hobert was the surprise winner for the Top Ford class with more than 1,200 ghetto-fogged horsepower from his 2004 E-350 daily driving work van that he and his friends had literally finished putting together the night before. When it came time for the King of the Dyno competition, Lavon Miller brought his UCC-winning 2006 Dodge Ram 2500. Miller had some concerns with his machine and so he took it easy on the rollers, yet was still able to throw down more than 1,600 horsepower to take home the crown.
On Saturday, the PPL sled pulling didn’t start until after a children’s tractor pull was held inside the covered section of vendor displays. Kids were separated into a few weight divisions to be fair with the weight they would have to pedal down the concrete. A crowd gathered around to cheer as each kid tried their best to drag the sled by their own muscle. As evening came, the stands in front of the pull track began to fill in eager expectation of the big show. On Friday in the Limited Pro Stock Diesel Truck class, Mac Cottrell took his Cantankerous Dodge 6 feet past the competition for a winning pull of 333 feet. Saturday night saw a whole different group of podium finishers, with Jeff Hossler’s Flirt N With Disaster Dodge topping the pack at 326 feet.
Two classes of tractors also took to the track both Friday and Saturday night. In the Limited Pro Stock tractor class, one driver, Justin Wagler, took both nights’ victory with his capable Real Deere machine, pulling 358 feet Friday and 310 feet Saturday. For the Hot Farm tractors, Jeff Fleck piloted his Red Strokes beast 337 feet down the clay to win Friday night, while Charlie Kirschner on Never-E-Nuff went 325 feet to win Saturday.
The Pro Stock Diesel Truck class saw a tight battle for the top of the podium during Friday’s event, with Jim Greenway taking the Gertrude Dodge 342.88 feet, less than an inch and a half past Matt Penn. But Penn didn’t give up; he rallied hard the next day to win Saturday night with a 318-foot hook.
Despite the Pro Stock and Super Stock trucks now looking so similar, the crowd still gets excited when they see the familiar and outlandish paint schemes of the Super Stock Diesel Truck class take to the dirt. Kent Crowder and the lightning-covered Scheid Diesel Dodge overtook them all at 352 feet for the Friday night class win. On Saturday night, Justin Gearhart proved to be the Cream of the Crop as he rose to the top of the class to win at 326 feet down the track.
With two days of intense sled pulling, awesome dyno action, amazing trucks to gawk at, and outstanding live music performances both nights, some might be content to wrap up a show. But not Wagler and his team. They moved the event to the Lyons Raceway Park dragstrip on Sunday to allow gas and diesel cars and trucks to battle it out for a whole lot of green and a whole lot of pride. Without any bracket or slower classes, racing action would be nothing but run-what-you-brung, heads-up racing. The five classes would consist of a 7.70 index Street Fighter class open to gas or diesel, a 6.70 Index that was open as well, a Pro Street diesel truck class, and the two Instant Green classes open to either fuel and divided only by tire size. And between these classes, Farm Truck and Jeremy Wagler would pilot the Wagler Shop Truck against Jeff Lutz in his ’69 Camaro dubbed Mad Max for some exhibition passes down the track.
In the index classes, it came down to several gassers in the finals since the classes ended up filled with mostly local gas racers. Hopefully next year more diesel trucks will step up to the plate and take the challenge headon. In the 7.70 Street Fighter group, it came down to Kenneth Boucherie in his 1990 Ford Mustang against Bill McCarty’s 1984 Dodge D150, where McCarty took home the class win. For the 6.70 racers, Garry Harris in a 2005 Chevy Silverado squared off against Joey Moore and his 1998 Chevy Camaro—and a truck took the victory once again.
Two-time UCC champion Lavon Miller and his 2006 Dodge Ram was a favorite going into the Pro Street class, and he made his way into the final. But when he went up against Johnny Gilbert in his tube-chassis 2001 Ram, Miller had some issues at the line while Gilbert launched clean to take the Pro Street win.
The Instant Green Big Tire class came down to Judd Coffman’s ’67 pro mod Shelby Mustang and Richard Edwards’ 2015 dragster. Coffman had been consistently fast and although the rail was quicker, Coffman took the class win by reaction time and faster mph. Ryan Milliken and his electric green Cumminspowered Chevy Nova II beat several gassers across the line to make it to the Small Tire class final against Nick Taylor in the Chevy Malibu he calls Maliboost. It was a tight race all the way down the track but Milliken pulled around the Maliboost at the top end of the track for the win.
Between the innovative drag racing, a large field of sled pullers, and one-off live concerts, Wagler and his dedicated family and friends worked hard under the sun to pull off another amazing and unique event packed with about 4,000 fans. The Wagler crew didn’t shy away from taking the event to the next level as they continue to build a show worthy of everyone’s attention. With a large group of sled pullers chomping at the bit and the challenge put out to all the diesel drag racers to step up to the plate, next year’s Wagler Diesel Competition promises to hit a whole new level. We hope we see you there. DW