Off-Road To On-Track: Johnny Glueck’s 2004 Ram 2500

Diesel engines are being challenged every day with major manufacturers designing more powerful and more efficient vehicles. But, the newer manufactured vehicles don’t handle the workload that the diesel engines we know are primarily used for.

The majority of diesel engines are in heavy duty applications. Pulling trailers and equipment are the sole purposes of these torque monsters. There is a small percentage of diesel-powered vehicles that find their way off the workforce and become modified fire breathers that trucks like Johnny Glueck’s have.

The Truck

Johnny Glueck was on the premises of the 2017 NHRDA World Finals not as only a spectator, but as a competitor. We spotted his truck, “happy,” across the parking area and after recognizing the truck from a previous feature, we noticed a lot has changed. We had to get over and check it out.

Last year when we met Glueck, his truck was put together to tackle an off-road setting, but with the power to tear down the drag strip. This year, Glueck has changed his 2004 Ram 2500. The beefy bumpers, fender flares, and the over-size mud terrain tires were removed. Just removing those items freed up a ton of weight, and offered a whole new sleek look.

Now, Glueck’s golden colored Ram has more racing oriented modifications. Tearing the bumpers off, and replacing the heavy off-road tires with these street-strip tires. Tires are wrapping around a set of 20-inch wheels with just enough offset to generate a killer stance.

Also new to the Ram was vinyl wrapped with a carbon fiber theme. “I wanted something different, and love the look of this carbon fiber style,” Glueck said. “The dark carbon fiber color went great with the almond color of my truck.”

This aftermarket hood is a true ram-air system that inevitably helps get fresh air to the engine.

Inside The Cockpit

It’s obvious that Glueck takes the look of his truck serious and is meticulous about keeping things clean and flush. The interior is no different. He’s got the cockpit decked out with all of the necessary accessories to monitor his transmission and engine during a race down the track.

Auto Meter Elite Series gauges are displayed on the A-pillar presenting three separate pods; EGT( Exhaust Gas Temperature), 0-60-psi boost, and 0-100-psi-boost gauges wrap up the mechanical gauges with all the other parameters being covered by an Edge CTS2 monitor.

Glueck and Co., also brought their most important crew member of the weekend, Diesel.

When climbing into Happy, it is definitely all business, but that doesn’t mean Glueck could sacrifice the everyday luxuries of the truck just to go racing. Glueck has fully functional air conditioning and jams out to music out on his Pioneer head unit that’s supercharged by a Pioneer amp. The amplifier feeds four Rockford Fosgate door speakers and a 10-inch Kicker Audio Subwoofer.

While maintaining gobs of horsepower, Glueck can relax in his truck listening to a fine tune. But, how comfortable can he be? Happy also has some customization on the upholstery as the seats are custom ultra-black with Swade charcoal and heavy stitching to set it off.  “I just can’t seem to leave anything alone,” Glueck explained.

Religiously following the NHRDA drag racing circuit, Glueck showcases his driver number and class on the side of Happy.

The Powertrain

The customization of this truck didn’t stop at the exterior. Under the hood displays this beautiful custom valve cover with other matching trinkets.

The engine bay houses a high-output 5.9-liter Cummins engine that Glueck and his son Hunter have built together. “This build has given me the opportunity to spend time with my son, Hunter,” Glueck said. “Also, the quality time also meant time to teach him valuable skills.”

The engine is a standard bore 5.9 with a cylinder head that’s been worked over to withstand the additional stress. Harnessing the cylinder head to the block surface is a set of ARP 625 head studs. On the interior, Glueck has a custom valve job, 103 pound valve springs, a Trend Performance rocker bridge, and Stage-3 pushrods.

What the coolant bypass does is circulate coolant to the back cylinders that normally don’t get the desired cooling.

To keep all cylinders surrounded by coolant, they installed a Fleece Performance coolant bypass kit. The original single turbo setup from the previous years was exchanged for a twin Wehrli Custom twin-turbo kit that’s mounted to an aFe Power exhaust manifold. The Wehrli twin kit utilizes the factory turbo and adds an additional S475 to the mix to allow more horsepower and torque.

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.

Behind this Cummins engine is a full billet, 48RE transmission built by James Transmission Technology. This gearbox has been reworked with larger shafts, all billet internal parts, and uses a SunCoast triple-disc torque converter. Keeping the transmission temperatures in check is a Derale trans cooler that’s triggered by a thermostat.

Suspension And Drivetrain

Like every other part of the build, Glueck didn’t want to spare quality on anything. With the front coil springs reworked, he lowered Happy down on to his four Bilstein 5100 shocks. Lastly, on the rear of the truck, a Firestone Air Ride System was installed for potential towing capabilities and ride comfort.

With the additional horsepower and torque, to prevent axle wrap, Glueck and his son installed a set of Flight Fabrication traction bars that mount parallel to the Hellman driveline hoops. The driveline hoops are to contain his custom one-piece driveshaft from an early departure. Drive Shaft Specialists, of San Antonio, Texas, supplied both front and rear driveshafts.

The AAM differentials on these Dodge Ram’s are stout out of the box, and that’s why Happy still uses them. Glueck uses all OEM components, including the 3.73:1 gear ratio and the factory limited slip rear differential. An oversize aluminum diff cover allows more fluid to run through the parts keeping it cool under stress.

Allowing the truck to slow down are SSBC calipers filled with EGR brake pads. Like the front, the rear pads and rotors were exchanged for a better performing, EGR pads, and calipers. Kevlar braided lines were used for the brake lines to ensure that the factory lines wouldn’t be an issue.

With weight loss in mind, they resorted to removing the big fuel tank under the bed and using an aluminum fuel cell that's much smaller, and lighter.


Unlike years past, Glueck’s truck does, in fact, scream race truck. From a leveling kit and 35-inch Toyo tires to lowered and 33-inch Nitto street/strip tires, this truck stands out. He used 20×10 Fuel Off-Road wheels mounted with 305/50R20 420 S tires.

Also, something new for the Glueck’s was the custom vinyl wrapping done by Darryl and Tracy at Deluxe Garage. The vinyl wrap has a carbon fiber finish and streaks across the almond pearl paint and nearly looks like factory work. With the new look, it won’t be nearly as easy to pick on the hot rods out in the street.

20×10 Fuel Off-Road wheels and 305/50R20 420 S tires were selected this time around.

“Originally, the look of the truck didn’t look like much, and sports cars didn’t like Happy and I,” Glueck said. “Now, with the new changes, people are more cautious and start to suspect a different ending.” Glueck gives special thanks to those who have helped himself and Happy get where it is today. They include ADI Performance Fuel Additive, Wehrli Custom, JTT Transmission Technology, Trend Performance, ATS Diesel, Coffman Performance, and Geno’s Garage.

With his past goal of losing weight off the truck and still sustain its good looks, it’s safe to say his goal has been fulfilled. “If I could change anything about the build, I would have started with a smaller platform,” Glueck said. “I think a regular cab short bed with four-wheel drive would be ideal.” Could that be whats next for this father-son duo? Whatever the outcome, we know it will be mint.

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.
Read My Articles

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