The yearly TS Performance Outlaw Diesel event had a plan to bring in drag racers who follow the Outlaw Diesel Super Series, along with the Lucas Oil Pro Pulling League Silver Series, to compete in a pair of events held at Beech Bend Raceway and Jim Roberts Community Park, situated just a few miles from one another in Kentucky. We thought it would be a great event to cover for Front Street, so we loaded up the team into the company truck and decided to make the 13-hour drive to Kentucky to check out some coal-rolling and dirt-dragging.
Diesels, diesels everywhere!
Leading up to the event, I checked out the forecast and wasn’t thrilled, but with the travel plans already established, we pressed on. The decision was made to meet at the office on Thursday morning at 5:30; Anthony and I arrived first, then Daryl, and nearly immediately, we were derailed from the plan. Since Anthony looks like he’s about 15, and he left his driver’s license at home, we had to kill time in the office parking lot so his girlfriend could roll out of bed and meet us with his ID at the entrance to the Pennsylvania Turnpike.
Onward, right? Once we ensured the adult status of our most junior traveling member was no longer in question, we hit the road for what was a mostly uneventful trip. With the exception of a number of West Virginia and Kentucky-based insects who will never return to their nests, and quite a bit of diesel turned into smoke, we landed in Bowling Green around 7PM. Oh, and the napping, which happened for two of us. Daryl is the only one who managed to stay awake for the entire ride, which is a good thing – he was driving.
What can we say.. it was a long drive!
Humid. It’s always humid in Bowling Green – I’ve been there a number of times for the NMRA’s Mustang events after summer is over, and it’s been humid even in early October. It’s been a few years since I’ve been to Beech Bend, and the humidity was enough to smack you in the face upon arrival. We hit a local restaurant for some grub, made our way back to the hotel, and hit the rack in preparation for what we expected to be a big day on Friday.
We arrived at the track around 7:15 in the morning on Friday, and the humidity hadn’t gone anywhere, in fact, it was worse. This would be a harbinger of the rest of the weekend. I went to check out some of the action in the pits as the racers got set up, and waited for the racing action to start.
Don’t you wish your bus driver was cool like this?
There were five race classes – Pro Street, Pro Dragster, 10.50 Index, 12.00 Index, and ET Brackets, with a healthy assortment of diesel machines of all types scattered throughout.
Just a few short weeks ago, we made the trip to the Ultimate Callout Challenge in Salt Lake City, Utah, where Firepunk Diesel’s Lavon Miller amassed the most points by performing consistently near the top of the leaderboard in each of the three disciplines contested – dyno results, quickest elapsed time on the strip, and sled-pulling distance – to take home the overall win at that event.
The TS Performance event was just as kind to the Ohio resident. Although Miller struggled with belt-tossing issues during the first qualifying session, he managed to get off a clean pass during the second, lighting the board with a 5.55 to take the top qualifier spot in Pro Street. The attrition rate was high in Pro Street, as Miller ended up with a broken single round in the first when Ryan Milliken didn’t make the lane call.
Lyn (foreground) and Lavon Miller (center) discussing how to correct their serpentine belt-tossing issues.
His top-qualifier position gave him the competition bye in the second round, leaving him to make a battle out of it with Chase Lunsford in the semifinal round. Miller took no prisoners from start to finish, dropping a .005 reaction time in Lunsford’s lap, then tripping the beams with a 5.67 to Lunsford’s 5.89 – the race was over virtually from the moment it began.
On the other side of the ladder, Bruce Block also had a broken single in the first round when Shawn Proctor didn’t appear for the lane call. Johnny Gilbert went down easily in the second round, giving up nearly three-tenths on the starting line and never catching up, before Block had the bye through the semifinal round to meet up with Miller in the final.
Miller’s reign over the competition continued, as he took the holeshot and never looked back, taking the class win with a 5.85 at 130.73 mph to Block’s 6.35 pass. Miller, who makes winning look easy, doesn’t say much, preferring to let his purpose-built ’06 Cummins do the talking. It speaks – loudly – by eliminating the competition while hardly breaking a sweat.
Lavon Miller, focused on winning – which is exactly what he did in Pro Street.
The Pro Dragster portion of the event saw five rails on the ladder; Jared Jones earned the top qualified spot with a 7.39 quarter-mile blast. But when eliminations started, Wade Moody – who had qualified in the second spot – had the easy path to the final round, when Tony Careccia didn’t make the first-round call. Moody subsequently had a bye through the semifinal and straight into the final where he met up with Michael Cordova – who had eliminated Dan Snyder and Jones on his way to the last stanza. Moody put down a nasty 7.11 blast to put Cordova’s faltering 9.64 on the trailer.
Wade Moody III
Firepunk Diesel’s dominance of the TS Performance event continued in the 10.50 index class, where Larson Miller – Lavon’s brother – crashed the party with a string of mid-10-second passes on his way to the final round against number-one-qualifier Steve King. To his credit, King had it going on, taking out Bruce Block and Banean Woosley before meeting up with Miller at the end of the show. But when Block gave away three tenths on the starting line, the show was over, with Miller taking the win in his ’07 Cummins.
Larson Miller accompanied brother Lavon into the winner’s circle.
Ontario, Canada’s Devon Williams had a battle on his hands, but only in two rounds of competition, as the ladder fell in his favor in the 12.00 Index class. One-tenth and one thousandth of a second – separated him from his opponent in the first round, but the two subsequent rounds had no opponent in the other lane, giving Williams the easy path to the final. On the other side of the ladder, Steven Davis raced past Josh Crisp and Isaac Blaess to land in the final. This is index racing – and when Davis pushed the finish line with an 11.97, his weekend was over, handing Williams the win. We’re willing to bet the ride back to Canada was oh-so-sweet for the Ford racer.
Devon Williams takes out his first-round opponent.
Anthony Holland and Timothy Cutshall battled to the final round in the ET Bracket class; with a hair over three seconds separating them on the tree’s activation. It would be up to Cutshall to run Holland down on the big end. Cutshall subsequently gave up .042-second on the starting line, making the big-end pursuit all the more important. With his foot planted firmly in the radiator support and smoke pouring from his machine, he broke out by .025-second by running 12.105 on a 12.13 dial-in, handing Holland the win.
With a completed drag race, the plan was to move to Roberts Park for some sled-pulling action. Remember that humidity? Well, it finally coalesced into the skies opening up all over the southwest Kentucky area, rendering the pulling event nonexistent for Friday night.
A common sight during the weekend.
Saturday morning dawned sunny and bright, but the forecast was poor. We rolled over to the park anyway, setting up in the wet grass. And there we stayed, as the TS Performance crew cancelled Saturday’s pulling event due to the conditions. The Show N’ Shine went on, although it was quite wet and most hoods were closed. The end result of Saturday was a visit into Nashville and a trip to Hattie B’s Hot Chicken on 19th Avenue, where the beers are cold and the cluckers are hot. I recommend the large Dark, cooked medium, the pimiento mac and cheese, and the cole slaw. You won’t regret it.
26 hours of driving. Somewhere in the neighborhood of 1,600 miles. No truck pulls. Not much sleep either. All in all, a fun event. See ya next year – hopefully with the sun in tow!