When you have a dream to build a truck, you have in your mind exactly what you want to do. Some of us are happy with a few add ons, some of us are happy with something a little more serious, and some are on the lookout for a platform that is in perfect condition and have expectations to wow the crowd with not only looks but under the hood, too. For Albertville, Alabama native Trace Wilks, he’s going all out.
Wilks fell in love with drag racing around 2011 and building up his truck to fit in his desired class took some time, but in the end, it was worth it. Wilks has been into this immaculate 2007 GMC Sierra for seven years and climbing. He’s been into anything with an engine his entire life, but as of late, the passion for diesel performance has been overwhelming.
Building a truck of this caliber isn’t something you can do yourself without a support system of some of the industry’s best companies, individuals, and good friends. “This truck has been an interesting build but with the help of the industry’s best, it’s right where I want it. For now,” said Wilks. “The original cost of this truck was $36,000 and if you were to duplicate the build as is, you’re looking at an additional $45,000.”
Wilks credits Dylan Moon at Full Moon Diesel, Blake Crenshaw at Unleashed Duramax Tuning, Blaine Walker, Calvins Online, S&S Diesel Motorsport, Xccelerated Turbo Systems, and last but not least, Wagler Competition Products.
Powering this Ming Blue Sierra is a 6.6-Liter LBZ V8 Duramax engine built by Wagler Competition Products in Odon, Indiana. This Duramax engine has been gone through and upgraded with every part imaginable including Wagler’s connecting rods, ported and polished cylinder heads, and their stage two camshaft. Other internal parts include a set of Ross Racing forged pistons and a billet crankshaft from Callies Performance.
Thanks to Tim Miller at Xccelerated Turbo Systems, this LBZ has been fitted with a set of compound turbochargers. Boost for the engine is provided by an S488 turbo compounded with an S472. Xccelerated Turbo Systems did all of the fab work making this turbo system look unique and precision fit. Once the exhaust exits the engine, it runs through a pair of PPE manifolds and out a carbon fiber Old Skool Fab hood stack.
Thanks to the FASS Fuel Systems 290 lift pump, this fuel-thirsty horse stays fed as it pumps fuel up to the twin high-pressure CP3 pumps. One of the CP3’s is a 12-MM S&S pump and the other is the stock LBZ pump. These pumps, once fed by the FASS, flow fuel to the 250-percent over stock S&S Diesel fuel injectors.
Applying the power to the ground via the LBZ engine is a Limitless-built transmission backed with a Suncoast Diesel torque converter and it utilizes a Trans Go Shift Kit. “I wanted the best Allison builder the industry had to offer, so we went with Limitless comp transmission unit,” said Wilks. “Although, we have intentions to throw a 48RE behind it eventually.”
Wilks continued, “To be honest, the Allison transmission is almost too smart for its own good. With a 48RE, it will shift a lot faster and that will yield in quicker better times.” For all of you diehard Allison transmission fans, you may not enjoy hearing this, but if this is what it takes to run the number, by all means, you do what you have to do.
Wilks has his truck riding on 3-inch lowering shackles, 1-inch lowering keys, and has two leaf springs removed to get his desired ride height. The chassis rebound and compression are controlled with a set of dual adjustable QA1 shocks and the power is put to the ground with a set of 325/45R18 Hoosier DR2 drag radials.
On the interior, it isn’t all that different. The factory captains chairs have been replaced with Corbeau Racing seats and Wilks feels safe enclosed in a 9.99-certified roll cage fabricated by Cody Fisher at Firepunk Diesel. Wilks also monitors all of the engines temperatures and levels with AutoMeter boost pressure, drive pressure, pyrometer, fuel pressure, rail pressure gauges, and a US Speedo cluster.
It all started with a transmission build. Knowing it wouldn’t handle his power goals, Wilks dug into the Allison first. Once the transmission was abuse-worthy, a single S400 turbo followed. After the beating commenced, the factory engine let go opening the door for that ready-to-rock Wagler Competition powerplant and the rest was history.
“I have always had a driving passion to build something I could race and keep forever,” said Wilks. “I wanted to have a build that other people in the industry looked up to because of the standards and craft I followed throughout the build.”
Wilks continued, “This entire journey has been awesome and it definitely wouldn’t be possible without the help of a ton of friends along the way. Everyone from the guys who helped wrench on the truck to the guys on social media with advice, I’m in good company. Diesel motorsports is like no other. Yeah, when you’re in the lane next to your buddy, it’s business but at the end of the day, any one of these guys would lend a hand at the drop of a hat.”
A bad day at the drag strip is still a good day. When talking with Trace and what his inspiration is to keep pushing the limits, he says to stay humble. “These race trucks can sure make you mad sometimes, but a good friend once told me never have a bad day. I think about that quote very often and there are a ton of people in the world who would kill to have the opportunity I’ve had,” said Wilks. “Just because things aren’t going perfect, just remember, it could be so much worse.”
It has been a pleasure talking with Mr. Wilks and learning about his truck and we’re excited to see where this thing ends up in the near future. What are your thoughts on a Ram transmission swap onto a GM powerplant? Let us know in the comments below. Stay tuned to Diesel Army for more of the industry’s hottest truck features.