THE 2018 ULTIMATE CALLOUT CHALLENGE

Testing the Limits of Diesel Performance

It’s the most exciting spectacle in the diesel industry: Ultimate Callout Challenge. For the third year in a row, this no-holds-barred event pitted North America’s top shops and diesel enthusiasts against each other to see whose truck could be the king of the dyno, dragstrip and pulling track. The big prize, though, would go to the combined winner, the truck that could place well enough in each event to take the overall victory. Here, there cannot be any weak links. If you’re a betting type of person, you probably don’t want to bet against Lavon Miller and Firepunk Diesel, whose truck and team took the win the past two years. Last year Miller won by taking first place at the dragstrip, second place on the dyno, and sixth place at the sled pull, which made the overall standings relatively close. Derek Rose placed a close second in his innovative DNR Customs race truck, and Wade Minter was right on Rose’s tail.

-Advertisement-
-Advertisement-
DW-1309-UCC-01

Lavon Miller cut a 1.32-second 60-foot time in his D&J Precision Cummins-powered Dodge, and he couldn’t be caught from that point on. He went through the traps in 7.88 seconds at 181 mph, taking the win and recording the UCC’s first 7-second pass.

Friday: Drag Day

As 2018 was shaping up, the action promised to be no less fierce, as several trucks were being built specifically for UCC 2018. With GM, Ford and Dodge all taking spots in the top five in 2017, we couldn’t wait to see the Big Three battle it out as the action started. The first event would be the drag race, where diesels would fly down the 1,320 feet at Lucas Oil Raceway. Scoring would be a weighted system, meaning that it was in the competitor’s best interest to beat everyone else by as much as possible.

The early favorite was supposed to be Lavon Miller, but Jared Delekta surprised everyone by throwing down the gauntlet with an 8.26-second pass at 177 mph in his Industrial Injection-backed, Cummins-powered Chevy. Miller quickly answered in his Cummins-powered Dodge with an 8.12 at 180 mph. Many other trucks started out fast and hard by running in the low 9s. While the lightweight trucks of Miller and Delekta were the favorites, we were amazed as truck after truck got the launch at the tune down and dipped into the 8-second zone.

DW-1309-UCC-02

Derek Rose had nothing but trouble at the dragstrip yet still managed to click off a 9.08 at 131 mph without shifting into overdrive. Rose is confident the truck has mid 8s in it with more tuning.

DW-1309-UCC-03

The JA Performance Dodge of Justin Andres doesn’t look like an 8-second truck, but it is. This Dodge still has a full interior, stock dash and steel bed. It made a heroic 8.94-second pass before being permanently put out of competition due to engine damage.

DW-1309-UCC-04

Josh Gruis from Jag’s Diesel Motorsports brought a gun to a gunfight with his lightweight Dodge. The 5,500-pound truck ran an 8.74 at 160 mph, justifying the need for that parachute.

DW-1309-UCC-06

Jesse Warren in the Warren Diesel Injection Ford was the Blue Oval favorite, as he’d already finished strong in 2017. After dropping some weight out of the truck, his dragstrip time improved by nearly a half a second to 9.60 at 141 mph.

DW-1309-UCC-05

The Banghart Diesel truck started out the day with a solid 9.37-second run that would lead the way to a solid showing in all three events.

DW-1309-UCC-07

If there was one team trying to throw the kitchen sink at its truck, it was the Armor Inc./Dynomite Diesel Products alliance. Driven by Canadian Donovan Harris, the Ram slipped and slid all over the track yet still managed a best pass of 8.58 at 167 mph.

DW-1309-UCC-08

The Hollyrock Performance truck driven by Mike Graves was a Duramax-powered favorite, as he’d run mid-9s last year. This year a huge explosion sent chunks of block everywhere at about half track, and Graves was out of the competition.

DW-1309-UCC-09

One of the few trucks doing some good burnouts was also the only two-wheel-drive, as well as the only truck with a 68RFE transmission. The Revmax entry proved reliable on the dragstrip, where it clicked off consistent low 10s.

DW-1309-UCC-10

Diesel Day Dreams brought the only regular cab shortbed truck to the competition, but unfortunately the trend of Duramax entries exiting the dragstrip continued, as he was only able to muster a 10.70-second E.T. before he was out.

The Cummins-powered, Super Street spec Ford driven by Chris Buhidar blasted off an 8.57 at 165 mph while weighing more than 6,100 pounds. A few tenths back (and with a great back-half) was the Jag’s Pro Truck entry, which nailed an 8.74 at a blazing 160 mph. The 8.80s were also an area that saw more than one ride, starting with Shawn Baca’s. He has always struggled at the track, but this year he had his “Master Shredder” ride dialed in, and clicked off an impressive 8.88-second elapsed time. The top of the field was an all-Cummins affair until Wade Minter managed to place in the 8s, clicking off an 8.89-second elapsed time in his Duramax-powered Chevy. The 8-second pack would also be joined by Cody Hale of Anarchy Diesel, Donovan Harris in the Armor Inc./Dynomite Diesel Products entry (at 8.58!), and Justin Andres, who drove what would be the first all-steel truck (that we know of) to crack into the 8-second zone.

Just a couple years ago 9s would have put your truck toward the top of the UCC ladder at the drag races, but this year Anthony Reams’s 9.06-second run put him in tenth place. There were other notable 9-second performances, including the 9.24-second run by the Duramax/Allison combination of Husker Diesel, and the impressive 9.56-second run by Jesse Warren’s compound-turbo 6.0L Ford. The 10s and 11s were littered with a combination of heavier trucks and others that had problems. Power Driven Diesel did well at last year’s sled pull, and they were more than anxious to make a good showing at the drags this year. A 10.00-second run would be their best pass, however, as they would be sidelined by a cracked block. Other competitors with trouble included Canadian Shawn Ellerton, who kept blowing boots, and Tony Burkhard, who went 11.41—but at more than 140 mph, indicating some serious power. All in all, there were five competitors who wouldn’t make it past the dragstrip and who were done for the event.

As the sun was setting on the drags, there was still one matter to take care of: the battle between Jared Delekta and Lavon Miller. After Miller went 8.12, Delekta responded by raising the bar further with an 8.07-second run. But Miller still had some tricks up his sleeve as the day wound down and saved his best run for last, an unreal 7.88 seconds at 181 mph that had everyone shaking their heads and wondering if Team Firepunk could be caught.

Saturday: Dyno Day

Day Two of the Ultimate Callout Challenge saw teams preparing for the dyno event, where horsepower and torque would be added together to calculate the overall winner. Unlike the dragstrip, the dyno portion of the event would see relatively few problems other than the heartbreaking runs of Wade Minter, who was fighting fueling gremlins and would only lay down 422 horsepower and 776 lb-ft of torque. Other than Minter’s, virtually every truck was over 1,000 rwhp, starting with Frank Kuperman of Revmax, who laid down 1,146 hp and 1,541 lb-ft of torque. Right ahead of Kuperman was Shawn Ellerton, who made an impressive 1,117 hp and 1,675 lb-ft after some serious nitrous backfiring. Next on the list were two Cummins-powered entries: Cody Hopkins (Destructive Diesel) and Brett Marcum (Banghart Diesel), who made 1,223 hp and 1,309 hp, respectively.

Just like on the dragstrip, it took a pretty good number to break into the top half of the field. Fords, GMs and Dodges all cracked the 1,600 rwhp barrier, with notable performances being turned in by Tony Burkhard and Jesse Warren, who both broke the 2,600 lb-ft mark on torque, adding quite a bit to their final scores. Both the Power Driven Diesel entry and the Jag’s trucks would make stout pulls with no nitrous at 1,853 hp and 1,721 hp, respectively. The competitors weren’t even close to being finished, however, as all the top five trucks would be (at least somewhat) nitrous-assisted, and all of them would break the 2,000 hp barrier.

The first of the trucks to pass 2,000 hp would be the Cummins-powered Chevy of Jared Delekta. He had finished strong on the dragstrip, so a good dyno run would ensure that he kept up with Lavon Miller. Delekta didn’t disappoint, as the “De-maxed” Cummins put down 2,188 hp, along with 2,663 lb-ft, and fried the motor in the process. Chris Buhidar had gone 8.57 in the quarter mile so he was also in the hunt, provided he could lay down some power. In what would be arguably the loudest truck on the dyno, Buhidar made 2,238 horsepower and 2,802 lb-ft.

And then there were three. Shawn Baca, Derek Rose and Lavon Miller had all finished well last year and were all still in the running for 2018. Just as in 2017, the most horsepower would go to Baca, who switched to an enormous set of triple turbos just for the dyno event. After laying down 2,391 hp he looked to be the man to beat this year—but there was a catch. Since horsepower and torque were combined, Baca could still be beat if a competitor got a higher torque number. And that’s just what happened. Derek Rose of DNR Customs used an immense amount of nitrous to crank out 2,378 hp, but more importantly an astounding 3,479 lb-ft of torque, putting him significantly ahead of Baca as well as Lavon Miller, who made 2,243 hp and 3,014 lb-ft.

Out of the 25 trucks that started the event, huge power numbers would take their toll, and by the time the sled pull rolled around there were only 18 trucks left. Eric Merchant of Merchant Automotive would miss the dyno but be back for the sled pull. Other trucks like Wade Minter’s would need strong showings during the sled pull to finish in the top half of the field. But the big question was, who would win? There were several competitors who still had a chance, but all eyes were now on Lavon Miller and Derek Rose, who had rocketed into second place thanks to his huge torque number. Jared Delekta had also installed a new engine after the dyno event, and both he and Shawn Baca would be in the mix.

DW-1309-UCC-11

There were triple-turbo trucks to be found everywhere, but few looked cooler than the St. James Performance entry driven by Anthony Reams. The Ram very nearly got into the 8s with a 9.06-second run.

DW-1309-UCC-12

The quickest that Shawn Baca had run in the quarter mile had been 9.40s, so he wasn’t expected to be near the top on the dragstrip. Baca surprised everyone by dropping a big hunk off his previous best with an 8.83 at 157 mph

DW-1309-UCC-14

Husker Diesel brought their A-game this year, campaigning the most powerful Duramax truck on the dyno with a 1,816-horsepower pull.

DW-1309-UCC-13

After his dragstrip run, folks were anxious to see how Shawn Baca would do on the dyno. He didn’t disappoint, as the Industrial Injection Shredder Series Cummins laid down 2,391 horsepower with just a spool stage of nitrous. A broken rocker arm sidelined the truck for an attempt at a second run.

DW-1309-UCC-15

Don’t get confused—Jared Delekta’s ’01 Chevy is actually motivated by Industrial Injection Cummins power. After a second-place finish at the dragstrip, Delekta put down a strong 2,188 horsepower on the dyno. That hurt the motor, but luckily the team had an entire day and night to fix it before the sled pull.

DW-1309-UCC-16

Wade Minter’s Duramax-powered Chevy had all the right goodies to place high at UCC, but unknown issues (at the time) cut about 1,500 horsepower out of the triple-turbo engine. Minter only managed 441 horsepower and 776 lb-ft, which effectively put him out of the running.

DW-1309-UCC-17

Starlite Diesel brought probably the heaviest truck to the competition: a Chevy dually. After running high 10s at the drags, they mysteriously received no result on the dyno despite making a single pull.

DW-1309-UCC-18

Power Driven Diesel’s Todd Welch and Will Terry are old school guys and were determined to make power with a bunch of fuel and rpm. The 12-valve made an impressive 1,853 hp along with 2,294 lb-ft of torque, and spun more than 5,000 rpm on the dyno.

DW-1309-UCC-19

All eyes were on Lavon Miller to see if he could best Shawn Baca and Jared Delekta. With a combined reading of 2,243 hp and 3,014 lb-ft, it sure looked like it could be two wins in a row for him.

Day Three: Sled Pulls

After using a stout 3.6-class puller to set the sled, the UCC pulls were off and running. First up was none other than Lavon Miller, who’d drawn first. Miller had added nearly 3,500 pounds to both the front and back of his Dodge to make weight, and it showed as he rocketed off to a 329-foot run. Now the question was, could he be caught? Shawn Baca switched to cut tires for his pull and put in a strong 324-foot showing, but that wasn’t going to cut it. Derek Rose was looking to lay down a serious number, but he too fell short with a 301-foot effort. In fact, the top of the ladder was extremely close, as trucks that had done well at the drags and on the dyno also pulled strong. Chris Buhidar put in a 293-foot effort, and the Armor Inc./DDP entry made the list at 293 also. Power Driven Diesel also switched to cut tires and pulled 290 feet, while other consistent competitors like Jared Delekta and Cody Hale pulled in the mid-200s.

In the end, nobody could catch Lavon Miller and Firepunk Diesel, who added a third title to his already-impressive list of accomplishments. This year was far from a runaway, however, as Derek Rose and Shawn Baca were both nipping at his heels for the entire event, as were Chris Buhidar and Jared Delekta. The fact that it took a 7-second quarter mile pass, a 2,243 hp dyno number and a 329-foot pull to win shows just how stiff the competition has become as competitors have raised the bar higher and higher. The only problem was that Miller has upped his game too and reached new heights in 2018, becoming a three-time Ultimate Callout Challenge champion.

DW-1309-UCC-23

After a test hook by Dirty Hooker Diesel’s 3.6 truck went 320 feet, we knew Lavon Miller had a run going when he put 329 feet of distance onto the sled track. Saddled with tons of extra weight, the truck was right at the 8,000-pound maximum.

DW-1309-UCC-20

Anarchy Diesel’s Ram was running strong all weekend. The Dodge first laid down an 8.81 on the dragstrip, then made 1,675 hp on the dyno. As good as these numbers were, the truck was still well behind the top competitors.

DW-1309-UCC-21

One of the most entertaining trucks on the dyno was Shawn Ellerton’s 6.0L. The Canadian never got to make a full pass on the track, then cobbled together a collection of clamps and springs to hold his piping on for the dyno. It worked, at least long enough for the Ford to make 1,117 hp and 1,675 lb-ft of torque.

DW-1309-UCC-25

Tony Burkhard brought a virtually untested truck to the event, but we figured he’d at least do well in the sled pull. We were proven right when he pulled an impressive 320 feet.

DW-1309-UCC-22

If there was a dark horse on the dyno it was probably DNR Custom’s Derek Rose, who was spraying about four stages of nitrous on his Dodge. He hit the bottle hard and early to make a staggering 3,479 lb-ft of torque, along with 2,378 hp, to take the win on the dyno. It also put him just a couple points behind Lavon Miller heading into the final event.

DW-1309-UCC-24

While not an early favorite, Truck Source Diesel’s Chris Buhidar had been laying down killer runs all event, with an 8.57 on the dragstrip, 2,238 hp and 2,802 lb-ft on the chassis dyno, and pulling an impressive 293 feet. He looked to be a top-five finisher if he didn’t grab a podium spot.

DW-1309-UCC-26

It just wasn’t Zach Fuller’s weekend, as his troubles continued during the sled pull portion of the event. Fuller seriously bent a driveshaft right off the starting line and only coasted a little past the 30-foot mark.

DW-1309-UCC-27

Eric Merchant of Merchant Automotive was another puller we expected to do well, as he was well set up with dual rear wheels and a slick-looking weight box. Merchant lived up to the hype, as the Duramax-powered pickup took the sled for a 289-foot ride.

DW-1309-UCC-28

With cut tires and a ton of power on tap, big things were expected out of Shawn Baca, who’d be running strong all weekend. After running 8s in the drags and coming a blade away from 2,400 hp on the dyno, Baca yanked the sled 324 feet to ensure a strong overall finish.

DW-1309-UCC-29

Last year, Power Driven Diesel dominated the sled pull with its wild six-cut-tire combination. This year, a dusty track meant they didn’t do quite as well, but still managed to pull a respectable 290 feet.

DW-1309-UCC-30

Warren Diesel Injection’s Ford was the top Blue Oval runner coming into the sled pull and would have a decent showing there as well. The long-wheelbase truck just couldn’t seem to get ahold of the track, pulling 259 feet.

DW-1309-UCC-31

With an entry that looked more like a street truck than a race truck, Cody Hopkins from Destructive Diesel managed a good showing and pulled 270 feet downtrack.

DW-1309-UCC-32

The Banghart Diesel Dodge had been performing solidly the whole event, with mid-pack finishes. The sled pull would continue the run for the team as they pulled a decent 259 feet.

DW-1309-UCC-33

Jared Delekta from Industrial Injection needed a strong pull to stay in the Top 3. Alas, the Cummins-powered GM just wouldn’t hook up as Delekta spun his tires to a 246-foot pull, and ended up in fifth place overall.

THE TOP 5

While Lavon Miller was the undisputed champion, these results will show just how hard it was to crack into the Top 5 in the overall standings. Kudos to everyone who brought enough truck, driver and know-how to be able to place in these rarefied heights.

PLACE DRIVER MAKE DRAG RACE DYNO (HP/TQ)  SLED PULL OVERALL POINT
First Lavon Miller Dodge 7.88 @ 181 mph 2,243/3,014 329 feet 2,585
Second Derek Rose Dodge 9.08 @ 131 mph 2,378/3,479 301 feet 2,471
Third Shawn Baca Dodge 8.88 @ 157 mph 2,391/2,734 324 feet 2,448
Fourth Chris Buhidar Ford 8.57 @ 165 mph 2,238/2,802 293 feet 2,373
Fifth Jared Delekta Chevy 8.07 @ 180 mph 2,188/2,663 246 feet 2,254