Power has a way of taking over. Vague and universal statements aside (though true in many cases), we’re focusing on horsepower and torque. As the legendary Tim Taylor would say, “It needs more power,” regardless of what “it” actually is. In the case of Johnny Glueck, it was his 2004 Ram 2500 farm truck.
We ran into Glueck and his truck, nicknamed “Happy,” at the 2016 NHDRA World Finals in Ennis, Texas. There was something about the truck that drew us to it. It has no major bling factor, no outlandish graphics, just good quality parts and craftsmanship. We had to know more about it.
Happy has a sleeper vibe to it. If you rolled up on it in a parking lot, you would have no idea the amount of power it hides under the hood.
Three years ago, Happy the Ram 2500 was a farm truck – a little rough around the edges and covered in all the dirt and gunk you would expect. “I just can’t seem to leave anything alone,” Glueck explained.
It started with a few mods. He upgraded the fuel system, the single turbo and manifold, swapped out the exhaust system; basic stuff. “Next thing we know, it is into the 12-second quarter mile,” he said. Glueck’s goal was to build a large rig with lots of power that still got decent fuel mileage and was smooth on road trips while pulling a trailer. Together with his son, Hunter, Glueck certainly didn’t leave the truck alone.
The 5.9-liter 24-valve High Output oil burner under the hood received a lot of attention, especially in the head.
Let’s just right into the fun bits that everyone wants to know about – the powertrain. Under the hood lives a 5.9-liter Cummins straight-six High Output 24-valve monster. The reliable and bulletproof bottom end was retained, while the head got some much-deserved attention. A full custom valve job was done, 103-pound springs and retainers were installed, Stage 3 pushrods, assist valve movement, and a Trend Performance rocker bridge keep it all intact. Also, the entire engine is studded using ARP hardware.
To keep the engine running as cool as possible, the father-son duo installed a Fleece Performance coolant bypass kit. The single turbo setup was eliminated in favor of a twin Wehrli Custom twin turbo kit that was bolted to an aFe Power manifold. The stock turbo was kept, but it was significantly worked over to get more oomph. A BorgWarner 475 was added on using the twin kit and a Hellmann Performance intercooler keeps the air flowing cool through the turbos. The truck also features a Nitrous Express system to make some serious extra power.
Twin CP3s keep the whole system feed off a 60-gallon Titan fuel tank while an open element air filter provides plenty of air for the mixture. A custom five-inch exhaust system with muffler was built to keep in-cab noise to a minimum while efficiently getting the exhaust out of the motor. The whole system was tuned by Coffman Customs in Canyon, Texas.
Backing up the powerful Cummins is a full billet 48RE automatic transmission. A shift kit from James Transmission Technology handles gear change duties after the power comes through the ATS Diesel Performance Five Star torque converter. Even the transfer case was torn into; it was fully rebuilt with a larger main shaft so it could survive the stress of the track.
A little nitrous shot could be just what the doctor ordered to get that extra power.
When asked how much power the Ram was putting out, Glueck was a bit reluctant to give up any numbers. He did end up saying that it puts out over 800 horsepower and over 1,400 pound-feet of torque. That’s some serious power for a former farm truck!
The front of the Ram was boosted up by way of Carli Suspension leveling coil springs. The front end also received a pair of stainless steel steering stabilizers.
Glueck wanted to keep the Ram simple when it came to the suspension. The front of the truck was leveled with the help of new Carli Suspension coil springs. To aid in dialing in the alignment, a set of Icon lower control arms was installed.
The stock rear leaf springs were kept and new Bilstein 5100 series shocks were bolted on all the way around. The rear suspension got some extra help from Firestone air bags. Knowing that leaf springs tend to wrap up under power, the Gluecks installed a set of Flight Fabrications traction bars to keep the rear differential right where it needs to be.
Top: The factory differentials were retained and the rear cover was upgraded to an aluminum, high-capacity unit. Bottom left and right: Both the front and rear driveshafts were custom-built, and the rear was changed over to a one-piece design in the process.
The differentials of a Ram 2500 4×4 are pretty stout from the factory. The Gluecks used this to their advantage and have stuck with the OEM components, including the 3.73 ratio ring and pinion gear sets and factory rear limited slip. A high-capacity aluminum diff cover helps keep the rearend from overheating. A Carli skid plate protects the front diff, and to keep the truck steering where they want it, the Gluecks installed both the high and low stainless steering stabilizer kits.
Both front and rear driveshafts were custom-built by Driveshaft Specialist Inc. in San Antonio, Texas. The rear was replaced with a one-piece design to help eliminate potential failure points and vibrations. Hellmann drive loops were installed for safety.
The brake system on the truck was seriously upgraded. The front calipers were swapped out in favor of SSBC calipers loaded with EGR pads that clamp to EGR rotors. The rear brake pads and rotors were replaced with EGR units. All of the flexible brake lines were replaced with Kevlar braided lines to make sure there weren’t going to be any blowouts.
The interior of the former farm truck is much like the exterior: clean, and has all that you really need.
The interior or the truck is the only place that reminds you it was once a farm truck. “It has vinyl floors and crank windows still, but we did upgrade the seats.” Glueck explained. “We did a little trading with a friend, and he did some upholstery work for us.” The seats were recovered with a black leatherette and charcoal suede, and a heavy stitch was used to bring it all together.
A Pioneer touchscreen DVD head unit replaced the stock piece. It powers Rockford Fosgate door speakers, a Pioneer amp, and a 10-inch Kicker subwoofer.
As a race truck, Happy has all of the gauges the driver needs for constant monitoring. A series of gauge mounts on the dash, steering column and A-pillar gives the pilot easy access to EGT readings, 0-60 Boost, 0-100 Boost, and so on. This comes from a full set of AutoMeter Elite Series gauges and the Edge CTS2 programmer display gives everything else one could possibly need.
Road Armor bumpers give the Ram a much meaner look over the factory trash.
The outside of the truck doesn’t scream race truck. To help the leveling kit make room for 35-inch Toyo M/Ts on Fuel 20-inch wheels, a set of Bushwacker pocket flares was installed. They simultaneously make a little more space for the tires, as well as keep them covered outside of the wheel wells.
Toyo M/Ts probably aren’t your first choice for a drag tire, but Glueck says he likes them and will continue using them. The truck is used for street and off-road driving, too.
The front and rear bumpers were tossed to make way for heavy duty Road Armor steel bumpers. A set of Rigid Industries D2-XL auxiliary lights make sure Glueck can see where he’s going, even on the darkest nights. To save a little weight, Glueck swapped out the factory hood for a full carbon fiber unit from VIS Racing Sports. Aftermarket headlights and a replacement grille assembly refreshed the front of the truck without going full tilt. The overall vibe of the truck definitely has a sleeper quality to it. “Mustangs, Challengers, Cameros & Vettes don’t like me and Happy,” Glueck joked.
Johnny and Hunter Glueck have put countless hours and dollars into Happy. As the future unfolds, Glueck wants to put the truck on a diet and reduce it by 1,000 pounds. The team definitely hit their goal of being known for building a clean and fast truck with a little age behind it. Next, they plan to build another Ram. We all know it’ll be awesome.