2015 Jefferson State Diesel Nationals

Full of long stretches of highway, mountains and lakes, northern California is the perfect environment for a diesel enthusiast. It should come as no surprise then, that Redding, California’s Jefferson State Diesel holds a yearly event celebrating everything diesel. There’s drag racing at the Redding Drag Strip, one of the oldest continually operating in the country. The strip was also nice enough to create a sled pull track, where everything from stock trucks to all-out competition pullers would be making passes. Finally, on a laid-back Sunday morning, the festivities moved to Jefferson State’s shop, where competitors could see what kind of power they were putting down on the company’s large-roller 248C Dynojet.

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One of the cleaner and faster OBS Fords in attendance was this two-tone red and white rig, which made pass after pass in the 13-second zone, and even competed in the sled pull later in the day.

Jay Lynch is proving to be darn tough to beat. In addition to winning the NHRDA’s season opener in Bakersfield, he won the bracket class at Jefferson State too, taking wins in both Northern and Southern California.

At the pulls, a lot of the Duramax-powered trucks had their torsion bars cranked all the way out to give the truck a super-low stance. Since there’s thousands of pounds of sled in tow, this actually brings the truck up to level once it’s headed down track.

Plenty of hot street trucks were there to hit the track, like Kat Ray’s mildly modified Duramax, which went high 12s in Redding. Not bad for its limited modifications.

While waiting for the sled pulls to start, we got a chance to look at some cool engine bays. Joel Gooch from J&H Performance was nice enough to pop the hood on his ultra clean sled puller so that we could check out its p-pumped 24-valve power plant.

Perhaps the most impressive performance of the pull was put in by Les Szmidt, who used nearly 1,000 horsepower on a 2.6-inch charger to motivate his Dodge to a 338-foot pull and past the rest of the field by a good margin.

As the competition went on, we saw a number of interesting pairings, like this diesel street rod (known as “The Fodge”) that lined up against a common-rail drag truck.

The heads-up class saw a final round matchup between Ponci’s S-10 and Nick Zischka’s Ram driven by Les Szmidt. To make things interesting, Brad gave Les a pretty good head start (on purpose) but still ran the Ram down, with a 141-mph trap speed.

Some competitors who had run at the track decided to test their rides on the dyno as well. This Dodge from Big Red Customs laid down close to 700 rear-wheel horsepower with a 73mm turbocharger and some 250 hp injectors from Industrial Injection.

The event started on Saturday with drag racing, and in the pits, we immediately spotted one of the most unique tow vehicles we’ve ever seen. Built by The House of Diesel, this 2015 Ford has been turned into an Excursion clone, complete with steel sheet metal and matching rear fender flares. Hey Ford, want to make one of these?

“Some of the quickest vehicles were swaps, with Brad Ponci’s S-10 and RPM Motorsports Duramax-powered Nova leading the charge”

Constant Action

From Saturday morning to Sunday afternoon, the constant action kept crowds of fans entertained. Since rust isn’t much of an issue in California, the scene was dominated by creative swaps and old-school rides. The number of old body style (OBS) Fords was impressive, with some running as quick as 12-seconds down the quarter mile. However, some of the quickest vehicles were swaps, with Brad Ponci’s S-10 and RPM Motorsports Duramax-powered Nova leading the charge. On the sled-pull track, common-rail trucks took control, with the most impressive pull of the night belonging to Les Szmidt’s ’06 Dodge 2500, which took it out the door with a 338-foot effort.

Capable of instant boost and big power, Brad Ponci’s supercharged and turbocharged S10 ran mid 9-second passes all day, with an impressive 153-mph trap speed. The truck is powered by a Cummins 12-valve engine and features a monster 139-mm Procharger supercharger blowing into an 80-mm Gillett Diesel turbocharger.

Diesels usually have a heck of a time making full passes the first time to the track, but Aaron Flournoy was able to dip into the 10-second zone the first time out, with his 12-valve powered drag truck. With a best of 10.87 at 126 mph with a spinning 1.74 60ft, look for this Ram to dip into the 9s soon.

As the drag racing action begun, one of the rowdiest vehicles on the premise was this triple turbocharged nitrous-huffing 1973 Nova, which has run a best of 9.15 in the quarter. In Redding, the Nova slipped and slid to a traction-limited 10.0-second elapsed time, at a blazing 155 mph.

Dyno Day

On Sunday, the dyno action consisted of mostly street-legal trucks, with a few notable exceptions. Wildman Pat Liskey from Big Twin Diesel brought his Ram race truck, which had split its block just weeks before but could still make a few dyno pulls. With an 80mm and 118mm compound setup and twin 12mm stroker CP3s, everyone was expecting big numbers out of the 5.9L Cummins, and boy were they right. The Dodge laid down a mammoth 1,561 rwhp, the highest non-nitrous number we’ve ever seen on an inertia dyno. While Pat was the big draw, there were a number of other trucks in the 500 to 800-hp range that were regularly street driven.

Ross Mulroney went 284 feet in the Street Class, after running 12s earlier in the day at the drag strip. There’s no Cummins here, as the OBS 7.3L truck is still all Ford powered.

Jeremy Wright, one of the co-owners of Jefferson State Diesel, made an appearance in the Stock Class, where he finished mid-pack in his daily driven Ford.

Part of the fun of diesel events is seeing things like a triple turbo rat rod parked next to a brand new 6.7l Ford. Drag race, anyone?

Despite being older technology, this flatbed Ford made a strong showing, thanks to traction bars, aggressive tires, and a huge front bumper that served as a ballast.

After the sled pulls, we took a quick tour around the pits to see if there was anything of interest. As it turns out: there was. This Cummins-swapped Chevy didn’t only have the diesel power train upgraded, but both front and rear axles and suspensions were upgraded as well for extra abuse. At 5,500 pounds, it’s also a good 1,000 pounds lighter than most diesels.

“The Dodge laid down a mammoth 1,561 rwhp, the highest non-nitrous number we have ever seen on an inertia dyno”

Adam Aquino (near lane) was shooting for 10s after dynoing a wild 920 hp to the wheels but ended up having to pedal the truck and ran in the low 11s (but at 123 mph). The Duramax-powered Chevelle in the other lane belongs to Rick Fletes and ran an impressive 11.7 at 115 mph on a bone stock engine with a tune!

Jeremy Torgerson was another Dodge owner who laid down some pretty impressive results. With compound turbos and some mild injectors, the Ram made 562 hp to the wheels on its tow tune, and 603 hp to the wheels on its all-out programming.

On Sunday, the Jefferson State crew hit the dyno for some high horsepower action. As it turned out, Pat Liskey pretty much stole the show with his common-rail Dodge, which put out a tremendous 1,561 rear-wheel horsepower.

After all the diesel horsepower had settled down to an idle, everyone walked away with a sun-drenched weekend of drag racing, dynoing, and sled pulling. And you know what? It doesn’t get any better than that. DW