Smoke Rising: Diesel Trucks Battle at the 2010 TS Performance Outlaw Show

Smoke Rising - Diesel Trucks Battle at the 2010 TS Performance Outlaw Show
Words and photos by Dan Sanchez for

The flooding that took place around Tennessee and Kentucky didn’t deter thousands of enthusiasts from attending one of the largest gatherings of diesel-powered pickup trucks in the nation. The TS Performance Outlaw Drag Race and Sled Pull in Bowling Green, Ky., attracted all makes and models of diesel trucks. Dodge Ram, Ford Super Duty, Chevrolet Silverado Heavy Duty and GMC Sierra HD pickups showed up in droves, crowding the hills inside Franklin County Park, where the sled pulls, Show-N-Shine and vendor areas were set up along the Kentucky countryside.

But this truck convention isn’t just about nice-looking pickups with custom wheels and chromed stacks that pop out from behind the cab. Real diesel truck enthusiasts come to see and test the power and torque from their stock to fully modified pickup trucks in a grand scale.

The sled pulls are taken very seriously, and classes are defined by turbocharger size. The 2.6 stock class consists of factory stock pickup trucks with no modifications. Those running larger turbos compete in the 2.8 class and are allowed minor chassis modifications. The modified 3.0 class allows for significant engine and chassis modifications to a stock body, and the pickup trucks in this class use extra weight in the front to gain traction to the front tires, as most of these are 4x4s that can make well over 1,500 pounds-feet of torque – nearly twice as much as a factory-built 2011 Chevrolet Silverado HD pickup!

Twin Turbos FTW!
Bigger turbos make big power. Two of them double it. This Super Stock diesel engine is just one example of trucks that make well over 2,000 horsepower.

Modified rigs typically have tube frame chassis, fiberglass front ends and many more modifications for just one purpose: pulling a 30,000-pound sled down a 350-foot dirt track.

This might sound like watching pigs play in a pen, but the action is intoxicating. Vehicles line up at the starting line and wait for a flagman to signal the start of the pull. Many of the trucks build up their rpms and compressor boost before romping on the throttle and pulling the sled, which is attached to the truck with a simple chain. Tires spin, dirt flies, and enough smoke and soot to shut down a European airport pours out of the engine’s exhaust stacks.

The sled ballast increases progressively until the trucks are just spinning tires and stop any forward momentum. At that point the distance is measured, the sled makes its way back to the starting line, and the next competitor is ready for the pull.

GMC Sierra HD Sled Pull
A 6.6-liter Duramax V-8-powered GMC Sierra HD makes a run in the sled pull.

With plenty of competition at this year’s pull, 2010 was the year of the Ram. Dodge trucks won first place in most of the categories.

In the 2.6 class, which had more than 60 competitors, the winner was John Beasley and his black 2006 Dodge Ram with a pull of 307.110 feet. Team Hallen, with its 1997 5.9-liter Dodge Ram, took the 2.8 class with a winning distance of 311.310 feet. In the 3.0 modified class, Wes Kusilek pulled ahead of the competition and won the class with his 2007 GMC Sierra 6.6-liter pickup, pulling the sled 308.790 feet. A Super Stock class was also part of this weekend’s competition; Kent Crowder and his 2008 Dodge edged out several tough competitors and won the class with a distance of 280.100 feet.

Aside from the sled pull, many truck owners lined up to test their vehicles on a portable dyno from Diesel Performance Motorsports. While many modified street-driven trucks produced 600 to 750 hp, spectators occasionally witnessed 1,000-hp dyno runs. This area attracted many onlookers throughout the weekend, and participants were anxious to see how much power their vehicles could produce.

Dodge Ram on the Dyno
Participants test their trucks' power on an elevated chassis dyno to see how much grunt it produces at the rear wheels. This was a popular area where spectators and participants were anxious to see big numbers.

A vendor’s row also housed many of the top aftermarket manufacturers of performance parts. Snow Performance, ATS Diesel, Scheid Diesel, and many others were on hand to showcase some of the latest components to improve power, fuel economy and reliability. Many spectators took advantage of show discounts and the opportunity to speak directly with manufacturers to answer many of their diesel-performance questions.

While there was some expectation for the diesel drag races, these had to be postponed until July 24 because Beech Bend Raceway in Bowling Green was under water after the recent rains and flooding.

Despite the drawback, the TS Performance Outlaw Drag Race and Sled Pull remains one of the South’s premiere events to showcase and experience everything diesel.

Not all of the trucks can pull a sled
Several trucks participating in the Show-N-Shine were also very impressive. This Ford F-350 features a flamed paint scheme.

Triple Turbos FTW!
If one turbo isn’t enough for your street-driven diesel truck, how about three? Many aftermarket performance parts vendors were at the show.


glad I bought a 2010 Ram 3500!

i wish i was there. sounds like loads of fun.

It does sound like it would of been fun to be there.

Bet you won't see many Prius owners out there... :-)

Yay RAM. Way to go Cummins!
Where's the Tim the Tool Man Taylor grunt when you need one? :)

You guys act like you are surprised the Cummins won most of the pulls LOL Congrats to all competitors! Sounds like they had fun!

Wow! I'd love to be there to see that display of power.

You know we all sit here and bicker about Ford vs Doge vs GM, but we all have one thing in common. We all love trucks!!

Its funny the enviro hippies don`t get these events shut down. Diesel drag racing is amazing to watch. The big drag strip in my area has a big event every August appropriatly called August Blackout.

Dodge Rules The drag strip,either trucks or cars !!

Dodge Cummins Diesel Rules !!

Dodge HEMI Rules Top Fuel !! (GM,Ford,Toyota
use Mopar Hemi's)

Dodge Viper fastest production car around Nurburgring
and Laguna Seca !!!!

Sure glad to be a Dodge fan !!

Of course the cummins rule, has always been the best diesel for pulling and power. Love those diesel trucks, way more power than any gas truck. Heavy Duty trucks rule for work and play, no substitute for diesel. Prius fans and granola crunchers are even jeleous of the diesel rigs.

@snowman - how do you think all those granola crunchers get to their protests? diesel powered buses.
I know a flight engineer that was telling me a New York based green group was hiring helicopters so they could be flown to the seal hunt.

Cummins is good, too bad its stuck in a Dodge...

Almost everyone say that Dodge itself is bad!Cummins great,Dodge bad!WHY?People,please explain me,because I really don't understand whats wrong with Dodge trucks?I see a lot of Dodge's!Great truck!..........????!!!!

@ HD truck Dodge in the past hasnt had the best rep with trannys, interior, exterior parts and peices holding up, but the Cummins is rock solid. My dad used to sell Dodge trucks he said when they put the Cummins badge on the side that was the best thing Dodge ever did since that was the best thing about it. Now Dodge built the pickup truck of the future in the mid 90s that changed the way everyone build trucks both inside and out. However it didnt take long for Ford and GM to catch up and shake things up.

@HDTRUCK - Dodge had a rep in the past for weak trannies and rear ends, as well as other q/c issues. That stuff lingers on in the minds of many. I used to have those very same sentiments. The newer model Rams are as good as anything out there. There are many who will never change their opinions - good or bad.

"glad I bought a 2010 Ram 3500!" - Tyler

Don't forget to add the $100,000 in modifications.

Looks like ford is the the only Looser:)

do they do sled pull with gassers too?

cummins everytime!!

All the accolades and wins in contests of power,yet dodge (RAM) sales falter.....its like nobody gives a darned about RAM trucks anymore....
A crying shame,because they are far superior to the horrible,no character,IFS equipped GM duo....
Guess too many buyers drinking the GM Koolaid (or Dexcool) now...

Chrysler does much better in Canada. Makes you wonder what the difference is?

GMC won the big dog class, and Dodge won all the under classes. Sounds about right since the majority of speed and pulling contest are won by either a Duramax or Cummins equipped truck. I guess Ford can still say they sell the most trucks however (thank goodness for huge fleet accounts.)

MW - so you are saying that for the working man - Ford is the truck to buy?

all i can say about GMC is the best, which i have for me at this time competition.

Wow I would love to hear the sound of those big engines! The power of these trucks really raises my adrenaline.

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