Hardway Performance SunShine Showdown Recap

The Outlaw Diesel Super Series has many stops throughout the year and with the newly acquired Emerald Coast Dragway by Hardway Performance Solutions owner, Ryan Milliken, it was only a matter of time before a stop was created in the sunshine state. Low and behold, the Hardway Performance Sunshine Showdown. It was an absolutely insane weekend of racing in the books for the first annual race, the fifth stop so far on the circuit. Event champions were crowned and records were set multiple times, so here is how it all went down.

On day one of the events, it was pro class qualifying, local street truck shootout, and an 8.00 index class. In the Suncoast Diesel Pro Mod class, it was Larson Miller in the Firepunk Diesel, Hot Shot’s Secret, and Save The Rack’s S10 entry qualifying number one with a 4.643 closely followed by the shorty Ram driven by Done Right Diesel Performance owner, Ben Shadday. Ryan Milliken, Daniel Pierce, Micahel Dalton, Brian Gray, and Steve Royalty followed.

Not only was the entire crowd at the Emerald Coast Dragway in for a weekend full of diesel drag racing, but it was also negotiated to have a jet-powered funny car go down the track a few times over the weekend at it was crazy. When you mix jet propulsion and drag racing, you won’t be disappointed. This car multiple passes in the sub-five second passes at up to 180 mph.

The Industrial Injection Pro Dragster class, it was Jared Jones in the Scheid Diesel dragster taking the top spot with a blazing 4.212 pass. Although Wade Moody has been into the teens, he struggled to get the car to perform which landed him in the last qualifying position. Just behind Jones was the Kingspeed Race and Repair rail driven by Michael Cordova and the Tameless Performance altered driven by Aaron Reynolds.

Larson Miller doing what Larson Miller does which is never lift. Hopefully, Shadday's Ram can be 100% at Rudys Fall Truck Jam for a potential fast and close race against the S10. Also, BD Diesel Performance race team driver Dallas Wade is putting his new BD S488 turbo to the test and it was definitely making some power in the 5.90 index class.

In what has been an exciting but expensive class all year, the Hot Shot’s Secret Pro Street category brought heavy hitters as always and didn’t disappoint. As one of the most dominant Pro Street drivers, Dustin Jackson landed himself in the number one qualifying position with a 5.092 pass with Jared Delekta, Taylor Overcash, Enrique Gonzalez, Johnny Gilbert, and Chris Buhidar just behind.

Unfortunately for driver Daniel Hargrove, his third generation Ram encountered a bit of a fiery scare. As a result of being on the torque converter for too long, the truck forced transmission fluid out of the dipstick as it was igniting. Luckily, Hargrove and his truck were spared and safely returned back to the pits with a functional truck.

This year brought the new Firepunk Diesel Outlaw 5.90 class for those who aren’t fast enough for Pro Street but are too fast for 6.70 indexes. We knew this class would be fun to watch but didn’t expect to see so many trucks be altered for the class. After building a truck in only three months, Paul Cato of Maverick Diesel and HP Tuners punched his ticket into the number one qualifying position with his 5.943 with an extremely close field just behind him including drivers like Seth Higgins, Dallas Wade, McCoy Black, and Rick Fox.

As you know, our Project Deadspool is a Flo Pro Exhaust 6.70 index truck. Unlike the last ODSS event, we didn’t take home the crown for number one qualifier, but it was our friend Mike Coleman in the Swamps Diesel Performance Ford with a 6.701 pass. A field of 11 other trucks ran closely behind Coleman as he tries to write a comeback story for the books after a major engine failure at the Scheid Diesel Extravaganza.

Ultimate Callout Challenge competitor Chris Buhidar with Truck Source Diesel made the trip from the San Antonio, Texas area to dabble in some ODSS racing. Buhidar is known to heavily follow the NHRDA series.

In the ATS Diesel Power Magazine 7.70 index, Landon Miller continues his dominance in the class with a number one qualifying position with a 7.706 pass over the other 13 entries. Miller rests in the fourth position in the points race and hopes to gain some points to place himself on the podium at the end of the year banquet in December.

In the local street truck shootout, it was Scott Kilpatrick who won in his big block powered Chevrolet Silverado 1500. In the 8.00 Index, it was a driver that nobody has ever heard of, Grant Anderson. Anderson questionably drove his second generation Dodge from Southern Illinois with no intention of even racing. Anderson has never made a pass in his life and what a showing it was. His triple turbo p-pumped 24-valve Cummins was dead nuts consistent and he may or may not have just picked up a new hobby.

It was truly an experience watching Mr. Anderson’s eyes light up after winning the 8.00 index and runner-up in Sportsman on Saturday. It may not seem like much but give these guy a few years and he will be deadly on the drag strip.

Day Two: The Action Continues

Devin Ratliff, although he’s done well in the 7.70 class, has struggled through the sportsman class until this weekend. Ratliff drove his way to his first ever Outlaw Diesel Super Series victory and a close one with Grant Anderson. Yes, the Grant Anderson who has never raced before made it down to the finals of one of the hardest classes on the circuit.

Adrian Forkum and his Cummins-powered Ram tested out some drag radials from a friend to see what his latest and greatest upgrades could do on the strip. Adrian went on to be too fast for the index eliminating him but Forkum plans on bumping classes very soon.

In 7.70, Ohio’s own, Ryan Riddle, piloted his third generation Ram to the winner’s circle yet again. Riddle has mathematically clinched the number one spot in points in this class and can rest nicely knowing he’s had a strong 2018 season. Between Riddle, Landon Miller, and Devin Ratliff, there were only three-thousandths separating the three in qualifying, but it was Riddle who took the crown.

With all of the bragging rights on the table and everyone wanting to snag that win in the first annual event, there were nitrous bottles and fill stations all over the place. People made sure there was no shortage of nitrous oxide.

In 6.70, the Cinderella story was written. Mike Coleman, after qualifying number one, finished the night off with his first ever Outlaw Diesel Super Series win. Coleman is chasing Landon Miller and myself in the DieselArmy truck in the points with only one race to go. As mentioned before, the Swamps crew has been through hell and back to get this truck going and to win this event meant everything.

Seth Higgins in his ex Pro Street truck waited his turn in the staging lanes in the 5.90 Index.

The 5.90 Index class was sure to bring some heat. Figuratively and literally speaking. Rick Fox looked to continue his dominance in the class but after a number one qualifying pass, Paul Cato had what it took to take home his first win this year in the class. Cato with a truck too fast for the class has figured out when enough is enough and still run the number. With this weekend being double points for the pro classes, we’re looking forward to seeing how they stack up with only one race left.

Cato’s first victory made everything worth it after the long trip to Florida. After only minor struggles, it felt good to Cato to get some money in the pocket along with some bragging rights.

Chase Lunsford and Seth Higgins sitting trackside discussing their own attack plans come the next round of eliminations.

Dustin Jackson’s 5.09 pass had him comfortable heading into the final round against Johnny Gilbert but Gilbert wasn’t going to hand it over, Jackson had to earn it. The margin of victory between Jackson over Gilbert was only 0.022 seconds but Gilbert should keep his head held high. After struggling with a new TH400 transmission and trans brake, they only barely lost with what I think is their new personal best 5.262 at 140 MPH.

In Pro Mod, unfortunately for the Done Right fans, Shadday encountered a driveline failure which ended his weekend after an impressive record-breaking 4.68 at 150 pass. At the end of the night, it was Larson Miller winning the class with the new world record, 4.47 at 167 MPH. With the event being double points, this may have been just what Miller needed to catch Rawlings Barnes and points leader Ben Shadday heading into the final event.

Dewayne Bethune looked like a threat in the 6.70 index class, but unfortunately the track prep was so good it broke an intermediate shaft in his transmission. Also, Joel Armstrong broke a shaft in the driveline too except at 3:30 AM Saturday morning, Armstrong was still installing the transmission back in after being repaired.

Pro Dragster was uncharacteristically slow. Unfortunately, Wade Moody was struggling to get the car to spool in the first round but due to a red light start from Jared Jones, Moody went on to the finals. The other pair between Aaron Reynolds and Michael Cordova, it was Cordova taking the win and headed to the finals. After struggling with a leaking fuel rail and nitrous issues, Cordova was unsure how the finals would turn out. But, at the end of the day, Moody’s struggles continued and Cordova, with an engine forcing the head gasket out, piloted his way to his first ever victory in ODSS. Cordova’s 4.654 qualifying pass was the fastest he would go all weekend as his final round elapsed time was only just over 7.70 seconds.

The Hardway Performance Sunshine Showdown brought new winners and three broken records which means this track means business when it comes to record worthy prep. After Shadday’s record-breaking 4.68 in qualifying, Miller’s qualifying pass of 4.64, eliminations pass of 4.55, and then final eliminations pass of 4.47, who knows how long the record is safe.

It’s a rarity that we drag race at night, but Ryan [Milliken] warned us that the Florida humidity and where the sun sets results in a dewy track surface. Fortunately for us, the track conditions were perfect and all trucks were set on kill. Chris Buhidar making one last hit before being defeated by Johnny Gilbert in the semi-final.

 Congratulations to all of the new winners and record breakers over the weekend and we can not wait to see how it all unfolds at the last event of the year, Rudy’s Diesel Fall Truck Jam. Thank you to Emerald Coast Dragway for the interest in hosting a phenomenal event and we look forward to the future of that event. For more information about the Outlaw Diesel Super Series, be sure and check out their website. What did you think about the event? Let us know in the comments below.






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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.
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