Diesel drag racing got its start with just your normal everyday street trucks, but we’re starting to witness more purpose-built race trucks at the events we cover. One that really stood out to us in the new styled trucks is Phillip Franklin’s 2006 Dodge Ram. This freak of nature weighs in at 6,000 pounds and thunders down the 1/4-mile drag strip in under nine seconds.
The story actually began when Franklin was 13 years old. “I started messing with diesel trucks back when I was 13 years old and my brother started modifying his 2001 Dodge,” said Franklin. “Once I turned 16, I bought a 2003 Dodge Ram and slowly started to modify it and learning how to tune on it,” Franklin said. After already getting his feet wet with his older brother, Franklin felt the need to have one of his own.
It was in August of 2013 when Phillip landed a job at Truck Source Diesel in San Antonio, Texas. Once employed, he began going to shows with Chris Buhidar, owner, and operator of TSD which really sparked his interest. “I believe the first race I went to was the NHRDA World finals in 2013. After that, I decided I wanted to build a race truck,” Franklin said. He started modifying his 2003 and ended up cranking nearly 900-horsepower.
With the truck equipped with the G56 manual transmission, he had planned to swap in an automatic and start racing it. But, it turns out the truck had a different plan when it cracked a few piston rings in a couple cylinders at 190K miles. “With that truck down, I needed something to drive,” Franklin said. “So, I started looking for a truck that I could eventually turn into a full-blown race truck.”
Wasting No Time
Phillip acquired his 2006 Ram with the intention to keep it stock and saving the money. “That didn’t last long,” said Franklin. “The first day I drove it off the lot, I got EFI live installed on it with a CSP5 switch.” It was obvious he wasn’t wasting any time to get the truck where he wanted it. Sprinkling in more and more parts into the new ride came easy, as no purchases were necessary because the laboring 2003 had parts to give.
A Steed Speed Manifold, five-inch exhaust, and an S366 turbocharger was swapped over to the new truck. After the newfound power, the factory transmission began to slip which only meant one thing, more upgrades.
His first stop for transmission upgrades was at Gorend Transmission of St. Lucas, Iowa. A full billet Gorend transmission and billet flex plate were installed to ensure the power would finally make it to the ground.
Falling back on the old faithful 2003 once more, he threw in a set of 150-percent over injectors and a dual CP3 kit as well as a FASS fuel system. “At this point, my truck was supposed to be left stock but in reality, it still made 750 horsepower,” said Franklin. “I cracked the exhaust housing on the 66 and was left with no choice but to upgrade once more.”
Luckily for Phillip, the TSD shop had a spare S475 in the shop as a spare, which inevitably would become with new lung for his 5.9-Liter Cummins. Knowing that this turbocharger would create enough boost to tear the cylinder head off, Franklin installed ARP 2000 head studs that came off the 2003.
Loving the new setup that made 900-horsepower, Franklin headed to the drag strip. For most, a ten-second quarter-mile time is almost a dream, and Franklin was planning on doing it on his second time down the track in this truck.
A Racer Was Born
Coming up short of a ten-second pass, he pushed for his goal. “I had a small race on a 1/8-mile track coming up so I swapped a billet s475 on and borrowed some drag radials to see what it could do,” Franklin said. “I ended up running a 6.84 at 102mph and winning the event, and it was at that point I knew, I wanted to do more competitive racing.”
That sub seven-second pass meant that would have seen his ten-second goal. Shortly after this, the NHRDA announced a 10.90 index class which pushed Franklin to be compliant with the rules. This meant his father and Nate, a colleague from TSD, helped Phillip build a roll bar for this, at the time, daily driven truck.
After a dominant performance that year, he won every NHRDA he went to minus the season finale in Ennis, Texas. The 10.90 index class was new, which meant it was a small field of familiar trucks. “I decided to make the move up to the Super Street class,” Franklin said. To come anywhere near competing in such an aggressive class, he knew he was down on power.
“During that year I changed from a single turbocharger to compound turbochargers. (75/96/.90 over an 84mm GT55) and the truck started making 1,100-horsepower on fuel,” Franklin mentioned. With that kind of power, he could be a real contender, but knowing the stock engine wouldn’t handle it, he pulled the powerplant and filled the space with a built engine that was enough for 1,500-horsepower.
With the guidance of Chris Buhidar and Wade Minter, he had a good idea of what he would need to build to contain this amount of power. He went with Parks Engine Service in Seguin, Texas to machine and fire-ring his new, sleeved, 6.7 block.
Inside of this Cummins engine was a set of Carillo HD connecting rods, hooked to Carillo forged pistons, and a No Limit Mfg. 208/221 camshaft. Holding it all together is a D&J Precision Machine engine girdle and a fire-ringed D&J stage 2 cylinder head. The head studs were upgraded on this engine to ARP Chromoly 625 studs.
Keeping this engine filled with forced air is a Borg Warner 85/96/1.32 secondary charger compounded with a ball bearing 115/111/1.40 GTX55. These massive turbos are mounted to a BD Diesel Performance T6 wastegated exhaust manifold.
Designed and built by Shane at Motorsports Diesel is a custom triple CP3 kit consisting of two 6.7-liter based stock CP3’s and one S&S Motorsports 12-millimeter pump. Other modifications include Smith Brother pushrods, Trend bridges and trunnions, Chiseled Performance Air to Water intercooler and a singe FASS 260-GPH lift pump.
S&S Diesel Motorsport injectors provided the 6.7-liter based 500-percent over stock injectors for the monster air volume that was needing matching. EFI Live is what Franklin uses to control his engine pre and post racing to check all parameters keeping the engine monitored. Doing away with the factory wiring harness, Franklin now uses an Auto-Rod Control Switch panel to control all the electronic components.
After this year, Franklin has had all of the local shows and NHRDA events to travel to and test this now permanent setup. Recently rebroke, Franklin held the Super Street record briefly with a best elapsed time of 8.853 at 159.89-MPH. Since then, the record has been taken back and we know that Franklin will make a push for the record again.
It’s been three years since the beginning of this journey and he’s made some serious ground. In three years he’s taken a truck completely stock to 1,100-horsepower and from stock to running eight second 1/4-mile in three years. Franklin wants to give a huge shout out and thank you to everyone that’s got him to this point. His father, colleague Nate, everyone at Truck Source Diesel, Goerend Transmission, Parks Engine Service, So Cal Diesel, Granby Truck Shop, and S&S Diesel Motorsports.
Next year will be another challenging one for Franklin and OPIE, but we think he’s got a few things up his sleeve to take back that super street record. Be sure and let us know what you think of this build in the comments below.