Hardway Performance: Diesel-Powered Nova Making Drag Racing History

In light of this weekends success, I think it is important to give some recognition where it is deserved. Lights Out 9 is one of, if not the biggest, small-tire drag racing event in the country. This event is literally flooded with hundreds of race cars ranging from 500-4,000 horsepower. I’m almost certain that the entire field of cars is all gasoline-powered. Here is the awesome part, we’ve got a company that you may know that’s trying to put diesel power on the map. Hardway Performance was there, and they are going to continue to push the envelope.

Ryan Milliken, owner, and operator of Hardway Performance has an extensive racing background that covers everything from what could be a daily-driven truck to the highlight of this story, a beautiful 1966 Chevrolet Nova. This championship-winning driver has won many categories and broke records with different vehicles, but why stop there? Ryan has competed for multiple years at this gas-flooded race in his Cummins-powered Nova but has fallen just short of qualifying and making it passed the first round.

The “Green Reaper” has more than likely the heaviest nose in its class, X275. With the help of some key companies, Milliken and Pierce can make history with this machine.

Over the weekend, the Nova was piloted by a friend and colleague of Milliken’s, Daniel Pierce. Pierce drove this Nova down the 660-feet at South Georgia Motorsports Park and put this screamin’ diesel into the no. 18 qualifying position out of the 32 allotted slots. Pierce ran a 4.553 at 163.20-mph setting a cars new personal best elapsed time.

Reaching the same point of the race, first round, as they did last year, team Hardway Performance prayed they could just make it a single round in such a stacked X275 category. In one of the closest races of the entire weekend, Pierce drove around the competition at the end of the track eliminating the other driver and moving on into the second round of racing.

After hours of waiting for the next round, the fire-breathing Cummins was tuned with the “all of it” tune knowing they were up against a much quicker no. 2 qualifying competitor, and unfortunately the tires were overpowered and caused tire spin which resulted in a loss of the round. Although it the weekend was cut short, team Hardway Performance didn’t leave with their heads hanging.

Qualifying for this event, let alone making it passed the first round, is a huge accomplishment for the diesel performance industry. This was a historic pass for the industry and it shows that diesels can get down too. A lot of smart people and great companies went into this build including Wagler Competition Products, S & S Diesel Motorsports, and Fleece Performance Engineering.

“We went out second round in X275,” Milliken said. “We had an epic weekend of racing and we will be back in the hunt for 4.40s.” The Chevrolet is still equipped with leaf springs and weighs in at just over 3,600-pounds.

For more information about Hardway Performance and their sweet Nova, check out their website.

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About the author

Artie Maupin

Artie Maupin is from Southeast Missouri and has an extreme passion for anything diesel. He loves drag racing of all kinds as well as sled pulling competitions.
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