After the heat of the summer racing season, we look forward to fall diesel events and Blackout in the Country is on the short list. This year, temperatures hovered in the mid-40s as the gates opened at Beans Diesel Performance in Woodbury, Tennessee. While the day always draws strong local attendance, participants from almost a dozen states came to play. As a result, the pits filled in early and spectator parking was nearing capacity by mid-morning.
Blackout in the Country has a family-friendly feel while fostering a competitive spirit with the show-n-shine, dyno, dirt drags, burnout and sled pull competitions. With a quick survey of the event map, we were ready to check out the action. Groups in hooded sweatshirts milled around vendor alley and registered for events. Diesel enthusiasts flanked the dyno, show-n-shine participants finished last-minute truck clean-up, and the occasional squeal of tires punctuated clusters of conversation.
Smoke and dust were the order of the day. With judging happening mid-afternoon, show-n-shine competitors definitely had their work cut out for them. From Army trucks to a Halloween-themed Super Duty, there was something for everyone. The Ford camp brought strong representation and took home three top spots, including Kacie Williams with Best of Show. Not to be left out, Ryan Schmitt’s Dodge turned heads with its updated vintage look and earned the trophy for Best of 2wd.
The burnout pad quickly became the unofficial hub of the event, filling in with plenty of action during delays as the loose, dry track was worked. More than one truck swapped out wheels and tires to add their own mark on the well-used concrete pad. Cheers could be heard across the valley following the unmistakable thump of tread releasing or the burst of a tire. Cars even stopped on the shoulder of the nearby four-lane to watch the action.
While the official contest started at four pm, spectators were treated to twelve hours of nearly non-stop burnouts. By late-afternoon, dozens of vehicles had left rubber offerings to the horsepower gods. After the dirt drags, Greg Alberalla and others joined the queue. Alberalla put on quite the show with his driver’s side rear rotor glowing before the tire burst into flames.
The crowd grew steadily as the announcer called the official contest. Caving to the pressure of the crowd, Beans Diesel pulled a shop truck out to join the action. In the end, the masses voted for Trey Jackson to take home well-deserved top honors after countless burnouts and heavy damage to his Dodge truck.
Tire smoke was the backdrop of the day, peppered by black smoke rolling out from the dyno. The dyno line wrapped around the backside of the Bean’s Diesel Shop until dark. While some came to set a new personal record, many were just looking to get a baseline for their truck.
Pointblank Performance didn’t hit the number they were looking for, coming in just shy of 1,000 horsepower. They were the first to ghetto fog for the day, adding a nitrous boost by spraying directly from a hand-held bottle into the air intake for their second and third pulls. Halston Dixon was one of the few to pull out nitrous later in the evening, testing a newer setup.
Although the nitrous added over 150 horsepower to his third run, he doesn’t plan to make it a permanent addition to the truck. Ultimately, William Green topped the leader board by laying down 1,430 horsepower and 1,936 lb-ft of torque.
The dirt drags kicked up dust as the trucks dug in. The contest was broken into three classes: Modified Diesel, Street Diesel, and Two-wheel Drive/Manual Transmission. Modified trucks kicked things off with a group of 13 trucks. It was hot in the sun, with spectators shedding layers as they watched the stiff competition.
Front runner Jacob Rupp suffered a transmission failure after a promising start in practice and the first round of eliminations. In the end, Wes Cavinder took top honors in the Modified Diesel class in his 1996 Dodge 2500. Greg Alberalla was a close second.
Street Diesel was the largest class of the day, with 24 entries. After a no-show competitor in the first round, KOI Drag Racing kept the event running quickly with limited downtime. Pairings often came down to the tree, with reaction time securing the win on more than one occasion. Dustin McCandless piloted his 2001 Chevy 2500 to the top spot over runner up Wayne Dean.
Two-Wheel Drive/Manual Transmission trucks were the final class to run. Familiar names, like Dean, returned for additional track time and pushed their trucks throughout the afternoon. It wasn’t enough to catch Allen Ferge though. Ferge took home the trophy in his 1995 Dodge 2500, edging out Collin Clanton.
The temperature fell quickly as the sunset and the track was prepped for the sled pull. A charity pull for a local family may have hurt participant attendance, but the crowd hung around to see the final event of the evening. The Heartbreaker 2 sled sat under the lights ready for the first hook. Work Stock kicked off the action with strong pulls out of the gate and a few surprises.
The Big Bad Wolf truck came unhooked from the sled and Isaac Sandlin suffered a driveline break at the end of his fourth-place pull. Paula Smith Boring, one of the few female competitors of the day, edged by Sandlin with 348.45-feet. The pull held the top spot until a pair of Chevrolet Duramaxes hit the track. Dustin McCandless took a big lead with a 371.61-foot pull for the win. Pat McCandless was a close second with 371.11-feet.
A combined 2.5/2.6 class followed. Daniel Young, like many drivers of the evening, favored the center of the track. The crew worked hard between pulls to keep the track smooth and packed. With the closest margins of the night, the 2.5/2.6 class came down to just three feet between the top three spots. In the end, Jp Regan secured first over Joe Pearre with a 317.64-ft run.
Robert Young managed a 314.27-foot pull good enough for third. The Run What You Brung “RWYB” Open class rounded out the evening with the few remaining trucks hooking. Dustin McCandless took home another trophy with a 352.76-foot pull, taking the lead over Michael Brown’s second-place effort.
It’s clear that Blackout in the Country has grown into its own. Beans Diesel Performance, also host to the annual 7.3 Jamboree, has created a fall event worth the drive in the mid-south. My advice? Plan to bring a spare set of tires and add Blackout in the Country to your list of events for next year.