The Thrills, Spills, Explosions, And Drama That Rocked UCC 2019

Let’s get this right out into the open, right in the beginning of the story. I’m not a diesel truck enthusiast. Never have been. What I know about the world of diesel performance is dwarfed by my knowledge of just about any other form of motorsports. But my relative lack of knowledge doesn’t stop me from loading up and heading to Indianapolis and Lucas Oil Raceway each year to check out the Ultimate Callout Challenge. UCC is the see-and-be-seen competition where every diesel enthusiast and racer gets to check out the country’s most insane builds—whether they are the ones on the track, the ones in the show, or even the ones which are built by a collaboration between manufacturers and set up for display in the DPI Expo, which takes over half of the paved pit area and is designed by the UCC folks to be a mini-SEMA of sorts for the diesel crowd.

With that said, I’ve learned that the diesel performance trucks and race teams out there are no different from vehicles and people I interact with at any of the other motorsports events I frequent. They live this stuff, and making their trucks kick ass is first and foremost on the menu every single day. And who am I to judge them for that?  On the contrary… I think it’s awesome to see these full-size race trucks doing their thing in the separate segments of the Ultimate Callout Challenge. The first two elements see the trucks battle it out on the dragstrip, then spin the dyno roller to numbers only achieved by some of the world’s most powerful vehicles. The third—and perhaps the most impressive—of the Ultimate Callout Challenge is the sled pull, which is just insane.

The UCC team had many stumbling blocks tossed in front of them this year. Leading up to the event, I had my eye on the forecast, and it didn’t look good for the first two-thirds of the weekend. When I got to the track on Friday morning, it really didn’t look good. See below.

The fog was hanging over the track thick and heavy, with its attendant moisture (and the remnants of Thursday’s rain) filling the pits with puddles and coating the parts that were on display with wetness. Although, in the middle of the DPI Expo, though, the fans who had showed up for the event were not to be deterred, wandering around in rain gear, with umbrellas and waterproof boots in tow.

Wayne Alberts’ Lil’ Pete is exactly that—but not really. Although it appears to look like a Peterbilt, it’s actually a scaled-down version he had built atop a 1996 Dodge 2500 chassis by Lil Big Rig in Nashville. Outfitted with a 12-valve Cummins designed to make 1,000 horsepower and a 47RE transmission, this truck is just really neat. I stood and talked with Wayne for quite some time as he showed me many of the little custom touches like LED-backed Lil’ Pete emblems on the tilt hood, along with several others. He also had a full album of build photos, which attracted people all weekend long.

Rain or no rain, the fans of the Ultimate Callout Challenge are diehards. Lucas Oil raceway’s stands are not small, and they took up a large chunk of them for the racing and dyno portions of the event. Same goes for the pulling competition on Sunday.

After finishing as the runner-up in the last two Ultimate Callout Challenge events, 2019 proved to be Derek Rose’s year. After placing himself in a solid spot with the quickest elapsed time during qualifying, he broke the intermediate shaft in the DNR Customs Dodge’s transmission during eliminations.

After recovering from that and preparing the truck for the dyno competition on Saturday, he stuffed enough nitrous through the engine on the dyno to blow it up, but it held and he maxed out the engine’s power, securing the top spot by recording an incredible 2,503 horsepower and 3,783 lb-ft of torque from the Freedom Racing Engines-built, Ryan Milliken-tuned machine. And on Sunday he had just enough to hold off heavy hitter Shawn Baca of Industrial Injection, taking home the crown with 2,468.667 points to Baca’s 2,353.67 points. It was an awesome effort from the DNR Customs team!”

“We have been preparing since last September when we decided to cut the truck in half for the new backhalf. We began track testing mid January 2019. Quite a few struggles up until the event to overcome. We tried to be as prepared as we could. The only thing we threw together last minute was the sled pull setup,” says Rose.

“This style event is very difficult to prepare for, basically expect the unknown and be ready for constant curveballs. We felt we had the most testing going into the event compared to other competitors. The only event we were disappointed in was our drag race, we had the fastest truck hands down, but a trans failure in round 2 kept us out of the overall win.”

This right here was simply insane. I was quite relieved to see driver Mark Broviak of Danville Customs escape unscathed (after 30 seconds or so of excruciating wait time), and I wouldn’t be surprised to see some more safety precautions put into place for next year’s event. With the potential for catastrophic failure possible on every dyno pull, I’d like to see the drivers in full gear, including helmets, head-socks and gloves, along with a fire response team stationed near the dyno. The failure was traced to a turbo compressor wheel which exited the housing, blew through a high pressure fuel line, and put a hole in the intercooler tube.

Amazingly, the Dirty Hooker Diesel team (along with the help of many others at UCC) got the Duramax swapped out and made it to the sled pull on Sunday, where they made the second-longest pull of anyone for the day. An incredible feat considering damn near the whole truck was melted off just 24 hours beforehand. It even has the scars to prove it!”

Wheelstanding diesel-powered trucks. What more do I need to say? The Outlaw Diesel Super Series Pro Mod racers came out to put on a show, but sadly, eliminations on Saturday evening were interrupted by an on-track incident which wrecked the track surface and put an end to their efforts for the weekend.

So on Sunday morning, I cornered the Firepunk Diesel dudes for a full photoshoot on their record-setting world’s quickest diesel doorslammer, to be seen right here on Front Street in the upcoming weeks.

More dyno carnage in the form of the engine in Josh Scruggs’ Triple Hart Diesel Cummins. With Bob Millican behind the wheel for the dyno session, the engine gave up in dramatic fashion, expiring one hole at a time (or at least it sounded like it) until pieces of the camshaft, connecting rods, and block were laying on the dyno deck. Unfortunately, the team couldn’t come back from this destruction.

All in all, the 2019 edition of the Ultimate Callout Challenge was an excellent time with great people, super action on and off the track, and plenty of drama to stoke your fire. I’ll be there again in 2020. Enjoy the photo gallery below!