Who says dinosaurs are dead? While the 7.3-Liter Power Stroke engine has garnered a reputation for being the “dinosaur” of the competitive diesel world, we would not count them out just yet.
Known for being one of the largest displacement diesel engines placed in passenger vehicles from the factory, the 7.3-Liter Power Stroke is commonly found in 1994-2003 Ford Excursions, E-Series vans, and F-Series trucks. Their immense popularity drove unprecedented truck sales for Ford, with more than two million of the Power Stroke-equipped trucks leaving dealer lots. Innovative engine builders and tuners are still pushing these engines, working to maximize every cubic inch 25 years after they first left the assembly line.
Diesel Army joined a host of 7.3 enthusiasts May 17-19 in middle Tennessee for the annual 7.3 Jamboree. This year the Jamboree included three days of events and was open to the public, a marked change from the invitation-only event of year’s past. The spectator gates may have been open, but true to the name, the competition was limited to 7.3 Power Strokes.
The weekend kicked off with Friday night eighth-mile drag racing at Middle Tennessee Dragway. Trucks from nearly a dozen states vied for top honors in the E.T. Bracket, 8.0 Index, and an RWYB Open Class. When the National Anthem finished the drivers were ready. Vinnie Cannizzaro and Daniel Klunk took advantage of the burnout pad looking for strong passes.
Nicholas Lima’s regular cab managed strong launches as the night went on, but it wasn’t enough as he battled shifting issues. Zach Green and Kyle Eustace were among the crew cabs contending against smaller and lighter trucks. A Power Stroke-swapped Ford Bronco and surprisingly quick Excursion broke up the field as well.
You might think a competition limited to 7.3-liter Power Strokes would level the field. Racing only highlighted the range of this engine as factory set-ups to highly modified trucks pushed their limits.
As the cool night air settled in, Full Force Diesel caught the eye of the crowd dialing in their dedicated drag truck. Matt Maier gave a quick preview of his Diesel Power Challenge entry with a single pass down the track, showing his consistency in the popular Outlaw Diesel Super Series 7.70 Index Class. In the end, Bryan Patrick took home the win in the RWYB Open Class edging out Steve Constable.
The 8.0 Index Class proved competitive with some of the best reaction times of the night. David Beach came out on top with runner up Brandon Indiviglio. The E.T. Bracket winner was Adam Doan with Hastings Foote taking home second.
On Saturday, the action moved south. Beans Diesel Performance in Woodbury, Tennessee hosted the event dyno, dirt drags, and vendor alley. Vendors including KC Turbos, Beans Diesel, and Unlimited Diesel Performance were on hand with parts, apparel, and knowledge to share. The roar of dyno pulls as trucks pushed their limits became almost white noise in the background of tech questions and parts specifications.
Beans Diesel operated the 1023 sponsored dyno. They drew a steady crowd looking to top their numbers with each of three consecutive pulls. Brian Jelich, of JeliBuilt Performance, and other tuners watched the numbers closely.
NightShift Diesel surprised many with a new triple turbo 7.3-liter that laid down 784 horsepower. David Keyser and Nicholas Lima had notable performances with the top numbers of the day. Keyser sprayed to 947 horsepower and 1,631 lb-ft of torque to take home the OBS Top HP trophy while Lima made a record-breaking 920 rear wheel horsepower on fuel.
With their last three races rained out, this was the first event of the season for KOI Drag Racing. Dorsey Diesel and Complete Performance co-sponsored the racing. Competitors quickly added their names to the list for the Open Modified, Stock turbo, and Two-Wheel Drive/Manual Transmission Classes.
The thermometer was pushing 90 with little relief from the sun. The heat seemed to drive the competition as many of the drivers from Friday night returned to match up on the dirt. Racers were ready when the track opened for practice. With a short run, a solid launch and staying on top of large turbos would be key.
The Open Modified Class kicked off eliminations with Chuck Dorsey falling to Hastings Foote. Foote dominated the tree early overcoming faster trucks, but his quick reaction times were not enough to save him against Greg Gates. Gates’ mechanical failure may have cost him the top spot as the racing continued without him.
Dustin Lowe came up short trying to knock out David Beach in what became the rivalry of the day. The trucks kicked up a cloud of dust with each pass down the dry track as drivers worked to hold their line. In the end, Beach took home the trophy and cash for first place. Foote picked up the second place plaque.
The Stock Turbo Class followed with quick pairings and close margins, often coming down to thousands of a second. Trucks staged early as drivers tried for the best possible launch.
Mason Mayner and Gabe Wall fell to Austin Seals early. Ian Sullivan dug in but lost in his second round to Seals who continued his commanding lead for the class win. Mason Mayner’s consistency won him second place.
With limited cooldown time and many trucks returning, the Two-Wheel Drive/Manual Transmission Class pushed drivers and their trucks to round out the day. Chuck Dorsey, Ian Sullivan, and Dustin Lowe were among those who returned looking to bring home new hardware. Ultimately, Joey Wanner earned the trophy with Adam Doan taking second place.
Sunday brought the threat of rain. Despite a steady breeze, the air was heavy with humidity. The pits began to fill in early for the Irate Diesel sponsored Sled Pull. The day felt the closest to the family atmosphere of previous invitational events thanks to the camaraderie of the relatively small 7.3-liter sled pulling community. The day was clearly set up for the competitors, with two hooks per class and the luxury of an open track for test pulls.
The Heartbreaker 2 sled was set and ready by mid-morning for test hooks and three classes: Open, Stock, and Hanging Weight. The Open Class kicked off the action. Pro Stock pulling truck Jumping Jack Flash quickly drew attention with a 323.43- foot pull at 27.7 mph. Shawn Sutphin suffered a broken driveshaft, ending his day prematurely. The carnage did not stop there with multiple fires and a broken axle before the end of the day.
Don Warren’s Bits and Pieces truck chased the far right while others favored the center of the track. The youngest driver of the weekend, Slaton Constable, confidently drove his truck hanging the left front wheel down the length of the track. The hook looked promising before ending with the disappointing sight of smoke billowing out from under the hood.
Miranda Neeley was the only female driver of the day. With a solid start, she looked disappointed as her PawPaw Super Duty came up short with 206.49-feet. Next Zach Green’s Going For Broke chased his 272.45-foot first hook, not seeming to take full advantage of his turbo until his open track pull. Damon Warren followed suit, driving the sled to 319.11-feet on his third pull. A Ford Ranger surprised the crowd and worked his way out to 241.72-feet during the open exhibition time as the last hook of the day.
Nate Vegh’s first place hook put 31 feet on the closest truck, dominating the Open class. Dan Gilbertson’s black dually picked up second place. In the Hanging Weight Class, Don Warren pushed his truck to take the win, knocking Steve Constable to the runner-up position. The closest margin of the day came in the Stock Class. John Guyton took first with a 290.55-foot pull followed by Steven Davis at 282.71-feet.
The event wrapped up around 2 pm, giving competitors an early start on their return trips. It was just in time as we hit rain on our way out of town. For more information, check out the event Facebook page. While the 7.3-liter Power Stroke may not be returning to the assembly line anytime soon, they are still fun trucks with a loyal following. If you ask us, it might just be time to find a good deal on a project truck before next year’s Jamboree.
Do you have a 7.3-liter Power Stroke we should be watching? Let us know in the comments below.