Gotta Start Small: American Diesel Building F-250 For Racing

American Diesel has a dream – that dream is to take a clapped-out husk of a 2005 Ford F-250, and turn it into a superstar. It’s fair to say this is out of the ordinary for American Diesel, which markets itself as a repair shop for regular, everyday trucks. But it isn’t to say it’s unheard of; Junior and his team have done builds like this before, and done them to a T.

But this will be a new build, alongside all of the complications and tribulations that come with it. The plan is to get the truck ready for 2020 competitions, which if you didn’t know, are rapidly approaching. Thankfully, two aftermarket companies have come on board to help get the truck to completion –Alliant Power and Sinister Diesel.

Alliant Power will be taking care of the fundamentals. These include things like gaskets, pumps, injectors, PCM, and more. The parts that will get the truck up and running, essentially. To soup up the performance ante, Sinister Diesel is joining in. Turbocharger, heads, and camshaft are among the products that Sinister is expected to provide.

It’ll be all hands on deck to get this clapped-out F-250 from busted to beefed-up. We caught up with Robert “Junior” Schuman, one of the founders of American Diesel, to learn about the build and what it will take to get it done.

Background Of The Build

In its previous life, the F-250 was a construction truck. “It spent most of its days with a utility bed,” explained Junior. “We bought it from the construction company when it was on its last legs. It was old, worn out, and tired.”

The engine is a 6.0-liter Power Stroke like you might expect. However, the 295,000 miles on it have rendered it essentially inoperable. The head gaskets are shot and the engine is in dire need of an overhaul. Because of how tired the truck is, Junior scooped it up for a small sum – $500.

The truck isn't pretty right now, but it's the foundation of a build that will blow people away.

“It was barely running when it came in here,” said Junior. “I think only five of the eight cylinders were working. To make it movable, we put a couple of injectors in it, and other than that, it’s untouched. We kept it in the corner until we can move forward.”

Now that Sinister Diesel and Alliant Power are helping to make this dream a reality, Junior is excited to get started. His vision for the truck? “Ultimately, it’s going to be a drag racing truck, and we’re also interested in doing sand drags with it!” he said. “We’d like to run in NHRDA races.”

Prior Experience

Junior is coming into this project with some experience already under his belt. “We built a truck similar to this one for a buddy of mine a few years ago,” he said. “We want to do this one similar to that one.”

The prior F-250 build was also a work truck starting off, with only 90,000 miles on it. However, since it spent much of its life idling, the engine ran rough, so Junior refurbished it. “Right now, that truck is pushing about 1,000 horsepower on a stock rotating assembly,” Junior said. “We converted it to four-wheel-drive, rebuilt the transmission, and cut a lot of weight out of it.”

The other F-250 that Junior and his team built was a dune-mobbing truck.

From putting together this initial race truck, Junior learned some valuable lessons. “The first time we took it to the track, we didn’t know what we were dealing with,” he said. “The truck had a ton of power. We didn’t realize how fast we’d made it until we did one pass and the track officials told us to beat it. ‘You guys don’t have a cage!’ they told us.

The truck will one day come back to American Diesel for some more tweaking. “We want to do a mid-engine setup on it,” commented Junior. “Then we can do some real go-fast things!”

The Vision

“The plan is to restore it to stock first, so we can get a baseline,” said Junior. “Then we’ll do some testing and tuning. And then we’ll fix it up with some go-fast parts.”

Junior wants to leave the truck as a two-wheel-drive, since the previous build taught him he could only go so fast with that drivetrain. “I’ll keep this one two-wheel-drive and look at doing a mid-engine setup,” he said. “I’ll do a tubular front end, and keep it lightweight with fiberglass.”

The F-250's engine is in dire need of an overhaul after nearly 300,000 miles.

The engine will get some tender loving care courtesy of Alliant Power. Junior put together a sizable parts list to source from them, including a high-pressure oil pump (HPOP), MAP sensor, thermostat, a new set of injectors, fan clutch, and lots more. “With 290,000 miles on the engine, we’re going to have to replace tons of things to breathe new life back into it,” commented Junior.

A head gasket kit, complete with ARP head studs, will keep the heads sturdy for max throttle driving. New injectors will bring the dead cylinders back to life. An oil cooler, never before installed on the truck, will provide a huge upgrade to the oiling system. “The F-250 kind of needs one of everything,” joked Junior. But these and more than a dozen other parts will refresh the 6.0-liter Power Stroke.

New parts from Alliant Power, such as the head gasket kit and high-pressure oil pump, will go a long way toward restoring the engine's power. Photos: Alliant Power

On the performance side, Junior is going full-bore to put the “Power” back in “Power Stroke.” “I’m excited to have Sinister Diesel on board,” said Junior. “We’d like to have them supply us with fire-ringed cylinder heads, as well as their upgraded exhaust manifolds. Those will help move the air in and out. And they’ll be perfect for when we enter sand drag competitions.” Supplementing these mods will be “ceramic-coated pistons, a billet low-pressure oil pump, a River City Diesel camshaft, and whatever else it needs to make power and keep making power,” said Junior.

In terms of timeline, Junior wants to start and finish the build within two months, but he knows that projects can go on longer than anticipated. “The time-consuming part will be the engine assembly,” he said. “Tearing down the engine, cleaning it and prepping the block, and so on. Thankfully, I already have a few of the parts here, so the downtime shouldn’t be too bad.”

Sinister Diesel will reinforce the performance side with things like heads and valve springs. Photos: Sinister Diesel

We’re stoked to see how Junior and his crew turn the F-250 from a sad sack into a rad racer. We’ll be checking in with the American Diesel team every now and then for updates, so keep it locked here on Diesel Army. And don’t forget to check out Alliant Power and Sinister Diesel for your own diesel project.

About the author

David Chick

David Chick comes to us ready for adventure. With passions that span clean and fast Corvettes all the way to down and dirty off-road vehicles (just ask him about his dream Jurassic Park Explorer), David's eclectic tastes lend well to his multiple automotive writing passions.
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