We’re happy to report that diesel events continue to experience unprecedented growth. But we’re also witness to how this progress is often accompanied by growing pains that negatively affect the event. You’ve heard the old saying, “the more things change, the more they stay the same.” Well, the Firepunk Dirt Drags are certainly no exception. They have enjoyed incredible growth, while simultaneously staying true to the roots first planted in the fields of the Miller family farm in Plain City, Ohio. To accommodate the event’s growth, Lavon Miller and his team at Firepunk Diesel decided to move their fifth annual event to the Union County Fairgrounds in nearby Marysville. We were there to help celebrate Labor Day, September 1, 2014, and we couldn’t have been more pleased.
The larger venue did nothing to take away from the grass-roots nature of the event; it simply allowed for a lot more trucks and spectators to take part in the fun. The Firepunk team went the extra mile to maintain that hometown family feel by holding an open house at the shop the night before the race. In addition to getting a tour of the shop, guests were treated to a Sunday feast of brick oven pizzas courtesy of the famous Firepunk Pizza crew! We also got to admire the custom fabricated trophies created especially for the event by Firepunk’s own Lyn Miller.
Overnight and morning rain slowed track preparation, but it failed to dampen the spirits of the 1,200+ spectators on hand for the dirt drag action. Track prep and registration started on schedule. Mother Nature briefly held up the day’s festivities with some lunch hour rain, but most of the crowd stayed dry under the large dining area tent. The shower was short and the event got back on schedule with the drivers meeting at about 11:40 and the first truck rolling across the dyno a little after noon. The first trucks broke the beams on the dirt at about 2 p.m. with action continuing on the track with pass after pass of dirt-flying fun with final rounds wrapping up at about 8:15.
The rain did present some challenges to the setup of the mobile dyno. The crew was forced to set up the dyno atop 4×4-inch wood posts due to the instability of the soft ground and wet grass. This worked fine for the first four trucks across the dyno but the fifth truck seemed to be too much for the wood supports. As Ryan Milliken’s Dodge crested 1,200-horsepower and nearly 2,100 lb-ft of torque, the dyno began to move under the truck, sliding on the wood posts, and coming to rest twisted counterclockwise under the rear tires. Fortunately, the dyno crew did a great job of strapping down the truck and despite ending up canted across the rollers it did not come off the dyno. Though Ryan’s truck and the DynoTech chassis dyno avoided any damage, the draw bar securing the tie-down straps suffered some bending. The crew made the responsible call to not dyno any more trucks for the day.
A total of 157 drivers took part in the dirt drags in addition to a large contingency of motorcycle and quad riders. Someone even added a snow mobile to the mix. The automotive drivers were separated into four classes for the heads up drag racing, using the KOI Drag Racing tree and timing lights to provide definitive results, reaction times, and elapsed times. Each driver had the opportunity to take a few practice runs, but after that it was nothing but serious racers looking to take home their share of the $4,000 purse.
The 2WD/Manual Transmission Diesel class grouped together trucks sharing a similar disadvantage to the automatic-equipped 4WD trucks. A total of 21 drivers competed in the class with the quickest pass of the day coming from second place finisher, Max Noll. His 2006 Dodge Ram 2500 took only 5.70 seconds to cover the length of the track. Noll started a little too early in the final round, handing the win to Michael Cordova who posted a 6.31-second run with his Cummins-powered 2WD 1998 Dodge Ram 1500.
Some 54 entries in the Stock Turbo Diesel class made it the largest class of the day with several trucks making mid five-second passes and plenty of tight races. Kyle Lewis posted the quickest time in the Stock Turbo class with his 2008 Ford F-350 and a 5.43-second pass. The final round put Lewis and his Ford up against Wade Howard and his 2007 Dodge Ram 2500. Howard and his Dodge tripped the win light with a better reaction time and a quicker 5.61-second pass to Lewis’ loosing 5.65-second pass. Other quick passes in the class came from semi-finalists Adam Orwieler and his 2006 Dodge Ram 2500 at a 5.49-second E.T. and Tyler Headings in his 2007 GMC Sierra 2500 HD with a 6.26-second pass.
The Modified Diesel class was also well represented with 53 battling to take home the custom trophy and their share of purse. Passes under the five-second barrier came from the Modified Diesel class with no shortage of low five-second passes. Chase Lunsford put down some amazingly fast passes with his Dodge but had to leave early to make it back to Tennessee in time for he and his wife to get to work Tuesday morning. With Lunsford withdrawing from the event, the remaining trucks were left to battle it out against a pair of nearly identical Quad Cab Dodge Ram 2500s pacing the field.
Banean Woosley ran his best time of the event in the final round, taking the win with a 4.66-second pass in his 2005 Dodge Ram 2500. Runner-up Lavon Miller also made his best pass in the final round posting a 4.98-second time in his 2004 Dodge Ram 2500. Miller cut a much better light but Woosley was able to put the power to the ground and pass him before crossing the finish line. Josh Fisher used his 2001 GMC Sierra 2500 to make the semis with a best pass of 5.16 seconds to finish third ahead of Bradford McDaniel and his 2005 Dodge Ram 2500 with a best pass of 5.25 seconds.
The Open class was for any full-bodied street-legal vehicles and saw a large mix of competitors including imports, a Ford Raptor, a Camaro, a very fast “Farm Jeep” along with traditional diesel trucks. With 29 competitors and passes in the low five-second range it was an action-filled class. The final round lineup couldn’t have been much more diverse with John Hall’s Jeep Cherokee facing Chris Hatzman’s Cummins-powered Crew Cab Long Bed 1997 Ford F-350 in a gas versus diesel battle. Despite Hall’s best pass of 5.48-second, Hatzman had a better reaction time and quicker 5.14-second pass to take the win making the diesel enthusiasts in the crowd rejoice.
The size of the Firepunk Dirt Drags has grown from year to year and continues to improve without losing the hometown charm of a local event. We look forward to seeing what 2015 brings as they have already booked the Fairgrounds and lined up KOI for the equipment. If you can make it to Marysville, Ohio, on Labor Day 2015 we’re sure you’ll be in for a good time whether you see it from the driver seat or the grandstands. We look forward to seeing you there, just be sure to tell them that your friends at Diesel World sent you. DW
KOI Drag Racing
Union County Fairgrounds