Who says the days of diesel are dead?
The Pikes Peak International Hill Climb is one of the most prestigious - and most dangerous - racing events in the world. It has lured private race teams and manufacturers alike. To climb the monstrous hill, you need grip, acceleration, stopping power, and as little weight as possible. Reducing weight can be a big challenge when you're racing in the Ford F-150's great grandfather, but that's exactly what Scott Birdsall does. His 1949 Ford F1, nicknamed Old Smokey F1, just took the Pikes Peak record for fast diesel-powered vehicles, and he attributes this year's success to just one change: lightweight wheels.
Litespeed Racing supplied the new GT10 three-piece forged wheels and they're certainly impressive, weighing in at four pounds per wheel less than Birdsall's previous forged setup. Not only are the new wheels lighter but they're also stiffer. This reduction in unsprung weight has had a profound effect on handling, braking, acceleration, and even fuel economy. That said, with a Cummins diesel featuring a compound turbo setup that produces 1,400 horsepower, we're sure getting good mileage off a tank is the last thing Birdsall is concerned with. When you can get up the legendary hill in just 11:24.065 for a new world record, you'd also be happy to sacrifice economy.
Interestingly, despite the smokey nickname, the truck doesn't belch out thick plumes of black pollution. This is thanks to Dynomite Diesel EDM prototype injectors and a petroleum-free renewable fuel called Nexdiesel. This biodiesel is cleaner by up to 90 percent compared to traditional diesel and doesn't need any modifications on a modern diesel engine to be run safely. Clearly, it takes a number of components and companies to make a record-breaker, but we're sure Birdsall isn't done yet. Like any racer, he'll keep working to get even better and faster. Maybe next year the man will come back to break his own record.