While there are plenty of parts pushers, shadetree mechanics, and even fly-by-night operations that come and go in any industry, the shops that know what they’re doing with a wrench tend to have the most staying power in the diesel segment. Once you’ve earned a reputation as the go-to source for proper diagnosis, repair, and performance, it doesn’t take long for your business to grow. Such was the case for Andrew Karker of San Jose, Illinois. After he won countless truck pulls and ran 11’s at the drag strip with his 700hp, stock bottom end LB7 Duramax, folks came out in droves to see what he could do for their 6.6L. By 2013, it was time to take the “diesel thing” from moonlighting to full-time, and so the Illini Outlaw Diesel nameplate was born.


With Illini Outlaw Diesel’s roots based in dragging the sled through the dirt, it only made sense for the company to host a truck pull—and that’s exactly what happens each August in the village of Forest City, Illinois, population 229. For 2017, a Stock Turbo class provided an avenue for lower horsepower trucks running a factory turbocharger to compete. An 8,500-lb Work Stock category permitted hanging weights, blocked suspension, and a stockappearing or S300-based, T4 turbo with a 66mm inducer limit. A 2.6 class allowed hanging weights and an 8,000-lb maximum, but required a smooth bore turbo, OEM driveline, and single rear wheels. Finally, an Open category was available for trucks with compounds, nitrous, and water-to-air intercoolers. All told, more than 50 trucks would hook to the sled—and we’ve got the lowdown on this year’s hottest-running rigs. DW


Jake Thompson spends most of his time competing in the Illini State Puller-sanctioned 6,500-pound Altered Stock class at events in northern Illinois. For the Illini Outlaw Diesel pull he added a front weight bracket and decided to try his hand in the Open class. As a result, his healthy ’02 Duramax would manage a third-place effort, obtaining a distance of 315 feet.


It was the maiden voyage for Illini Outlaw Diesel’s latest creation: an ’02 Silverado built to compete in the local Pro Street Diesel Truck category (2.6). Coined “The Replacement,” the purpose-built Bow Tie sports a built LB7, 2.6-inch smooth bore turbo, 12mm CP3, 200-percent over injectors, and makes somewhere in the neighborhood of 800-rwhp. The truck would take sixth place on the day, yet finish less than 4 feet behind the winner.


On any given day, Eric Loy’s ’05 Dodge can be the truck to beat. After giving the right side of the track a try, his hard-charging Cummins would take him 329 feet, good enough for third place in Work Stock.


Midwest Diesel and Auto would bring both of its 2.6 smooth bore trucks out to compete at the Illini Outlaw Diesel event. Here, Patrick Marler pilots the company’s ’08 6.4L-powered F-250 to a 308-foot, seventh place finish.


As one of few P-pumped trucks at the event, Dan Harvey made his mark with a strong, Fourth Place hook in the Open class. He and his ’95 Dodge would come up just inches shy of finishing on the podium.


When he isn’t running one of the more renowned Duramax shops in the country, Jason Wehrli of Wehrli Custom Fabrication campaigns this ’76 GMC (yes, it’s Duramax-powered). Like the aforementioned Jake Thompson, Jason regularly competes in the ISP 6,500-lb Altered Stock class, which explains the truck’s lack of front weights.


Getting the hometown win in the Stock Turbo class was Scott Garlisch. As one of the final competitors to hook, Scott’s ’07 LBZ Duramax— which is rumored to squeeze 600-rwhp through a stock turbocharger—pulled an impressive 344 feet.


Longtime truck puller and owner of River City Diesel, Josh Davis, stormed down the track in the Work Stock class. Thanks to plenty of ground speed, his regular cab ‘08 dually would go 339 feet and handily take the win.


Following a solid, fifth place hook in the Stock Turbo category, Garret Stewart made his way over to Tri-County Diesel’s mobile Mustang chassis dyno, where it was live tuned by Maverick Diesel. After updating his Smarty Touch device and creating a custom tune designed to maximize the potential of the truck’s 140hp injectors and 10mm CP3, Garret’s ’04.5 Ram went from 498 hp to 605 hp, and also picked up an incredible 355 lb-ft of torque (905 lb-ft vs. 1,260 lb-ft).


After years of pulling and drag racing on a stock bottom end, Kaden Nelson’s ’09 GMC showed up at the Illini Outlaw Diesel event sporting an S488 SX-E over an S369 SX-E, 100-percent over injectors, a 12mm and 10mm CP3 combination, a built motor, DuramaxTuner tuning, and making somewhere around 1,000-rwhp. From the time Kaden cracked the throttle to when he finally let out, his Sierra never became unsettled or quit digging. When the dust finally settled he’d traveled more than 320 feet, ultimately taking the win in the Open class.


Unfortunately for Cory Rowling’s ’04 GMC, its hitch reached the breaking point while on the hook. Although he would drag the Heaven Bound sled almost 260 feet before the breakage occurred, the mishap disqualified his distance.


Will Clark’s ’01 Silverado represents a nasty punch in a lightweight package. His LB7 Duramax is fed fuel via 100-percent over injectors and a 10mm CP3, receives its air courtesy of a River City Diesel LB66 turbo (66/71) and a set of ported heads, and makes 700-rwhp. Will would go 297 feet and place tenth in the Work Stock field.


Wayne Weed decided to get his daily driver in on the action in the Open class. And while his compound turbo’d, ’15 Denali would finish at the back of the pack, it was arguably the best-looking truck to go down the track.


With roughly $15,000 invested in his ’09 F-350 (truck included), Nick Christy proved you can still win in the dirt without spending big money. After finishing fourth (out of 18 trucks) in Work Stock, his 6.4L Power Stroke bested a very tough group of trucks in the 2.6 class.


The ’05 Chevy Silverado owned by Aaron Cully would go down the track three separate times throughout the day (Work Stock, 2.6, and Open, respectively). Aaron would take fifth in Work Stock with a 316-foot charge, eighth in 2.6 (305 feet), and then grab another fifth place in Open with his father, Gary, behind the wheel (309 feet).


It’s not uncommon for Quentin Whitehouse to pilot Illini Outlaw Diesel’s flagship truck—a streetdriven 800-plus hp ’04 GMC Sierra 2500—into the winner’s circle. Although Quentin would be edged out by Nick Christy’s 6.4L-powered Ford in the 2.6 class, the battle-tested GMC came within a foot of taking the win.


Although Lee Stiltz’ ’05 Silverado wound up in fifth place in the 2.6 class, it wasn’t for a lack of trying. After all, just 2 feet separated the top five spots. A regular on the Illinois pulling circuit, he too converted his Chevy to compete in the newly-created 8,000-pound 2.6-inch smooth bore category, which is sanctioned by the Illinois Tractor Pulling Association.


With a third place, 332-foot distance in Stock Turbo, Bo Dawson tried his hand in the Work Stock class as well. A mid-pack effort in Work Stock speaks to the truck’s well-rounded overall setup, especially since it surrendered at least 200hp to the other trucks by bumping up a class.


After working through several gremlins in the early part of the 2017 season, Morgan Primm of Midwest Diesel and Auto showed everyone what a 6.7L Power Stroke is capable of. Competing in 2.6, the ’11 F-350 would claw its way to a 311.13-foot, third place finish.


This ’05 GMC Sierra is campaigned by the previously mentioned Owen Maul in honor of Leo Alfano, who unfortunately passed away following a motorcycle accident in 2013. It’s a perpetual front-runner in the Stock Turbo class and would turn in an impressive 339-foot, second place effort at the Illini Outlaw Diesel show.


It was a solid day of work for Owen Maul and his ’06 Chevy. The 750-plus hp stock bottom end LBZ Duramax collected two Second Place payouts, going 337 feet in Work Stock and 318 feet in the Open class.


After clearing 489 hp and more than 1,000 lb-ft on the Tri-County Diesel dyno, Brett Onnen’s ’02 F-250 went to work in the dirt. The strong-running 7.3L would yank the sled a respectable 287 feet and change.