As if on cue, fall weather returned to middle Tennessee just in time for one of our favorite October events, the Beans Diesel Performance Blackout In The Country.
The gates opened Saturday morning to a full line of trucks on Rolling Coal Lane and the backup didn’t slow down until near lunch. It was a breezy fall day perfect for drying up the moisture from the recent rain. We started our explorations in the newly expanded Bean Machine area. Some of their top sellers, like custom valve covers and the Beans sump, were on display alongside CNC and robotic equipment.
Show and Shine
Back outside the wind picked up in occasional gusts, depositing a light film over everything. This proved a challenge for those in the Show and Shine competition. Despite being nestled behind the Beans Diesel shop, competitors fought dust and dirt throughout the day.
There were a surprising number of older project trucks in attendance this year. We stopped to talk to a family out of eastern Tennessee with three entries in the show, including a ’72 Chevrolet fit with a Duramax – Allison combination on a shortened Dodge frame.
With vehicles spanning nearly a century, it was no surprise to see some older models at the top of the Show and Shine leaderboard. Best paint was claimed by Tyler Seffens’ 1987 Chevy K10. The undeniably cool 1947 White of James Brugmann earned the Most Unique trophy. Joseph Pitts 2015 GMC Denali 2500 HD took home the award for Best Engine Bay and Tyler Williams was awarded Best Overall in his 2018 Ford F450.
With so many simultaneous events on the schedule, there was a perceptible ebb and flow of the crowd. A particularly angry spool up drew larger groups to the dyno, clustering eagerly to see the resulting graph. Among those looking to set personal bests were other entries, like Thad Creasy, just looking to see what kind of power their set up was putting down. Creasy’s Dodge hit the rollers with less than 500 miles on a newly assembled engine.
Ultimately Luke Holbrook and Joshua Davis topped the leaderboard for the fuel-only Work Stock category. The Unlimited category saw the use of nitrous, including hand-held sprays directly into the air intake. After a late run during the 3.0 sled pull, the smoke finally settled with Scotty Frasier and Kendrick Byler taking home top honors, both hitting horsepower numbers well into the four digits.
Conveniently located by the dyno, vendors like Fleece, Industrial Injection, Holderdown Performance, and XDP were set up and ready to help spectators add performance parts to their trucks. The smell of burning tires drifted over vendor alley throughout the day. Occasionally, conversations were interrupted by the hollow burst of a tire and cheers, pulling the crowd back to the burnout pad.
Blackout In The Country may have a strong local following, but every year it pulls competitors from multiple states. This year Ohio, Indiana, Kentucky, and Tennessee were well represented. The open track announcement came in the early afternoon and drivers didn’t waste any time in getting a feel for the wet clay. With mid three-to-four second runs, the action was fast-moving.
The competition was broken into four classes: Work Stock, Hot Street, Modified Diesel, and Two-wheel Drive/Manual Transmission. Work Stock was the largest with a group of fifteen trucks. After a no-show competitor in the first round, KOI Drag Racing kept the event running quickly. The margins were close, but when the lights dropped on the fifth round the late entry of James Judd took the field, followed by Justin Spires in second, and Josh Jolley third.
Familiar names returned for Hot Street. Pairings often came down to the tree, with eight trucks battling for an early lead. Dustin McCandless and Kyle Jolley put on a good show but fell short of the top three. Front runner James Judd took first, with Josh Jolley taking the second spot from Justin Spires in this class.
Two-Wheel Drive/Manual Transmission trucks saw the most mechanical drops of the day as the competitors pushed their trucks hard. You could smell burning clutches in the final rounds. Brent Moore had a good run for third, but this class really came down to the top two. Having faced each other a few times during the day, the final pair saw Josh Key line up against Ceygan Thomas. Key pulled out the win.
With nine entries, the Modified Diesel class saw a few trucks return for additional track time against some of the highly modified, and anticipated, trucks seen earlier on the dyno. James Benefiel came out strong taking the win over Kendrick Byler in their first matchup. He continued the strong showing against Dale Clifford and Dereck Cooper before falling to Wes Cavinder. The final came down to Wes Cavinder and Dustin McCandless. Cavinder took the win. McCandless took home the check for second with Justin Spires rounding out the top three.
Track prep commenced under the setting sun, packing the clay as the temperature fell. The Southern Express Pulling sled sat patiently under the lights ready for the first hook. This year a small Hot Rod Tractor exhibition class joined the fun. With Dewayne Harrell’s mechanical drop, Alan Harrell and Jeff Reynolds made it a two-man show with stiff competition. Alan managed to take the top honors with a 302.12-ft at 24.8 mph to Jeff’s 301.67-ft at 23.6 mph.
Work Stock kicked off the diesel action with strong pulls out of the gate and a few surprises. Josh Hodges had the pull of the night with a 367-ft 32 mph run that easily secured first place. Tristan Ellington’s 2003 F350 ended with 312.5-ft for second and Pat McCandless powered a 2003 Duramax to 307.72-ft at 27.3 mph for third.
A combined 2.5/2.6 class followed. Drew Kemp had the fastest run, clocking 29.6 mph in his 2001 Dodge, but it was only good enough for third place. Tim Cutshall nudged past Young, taking second by less than a foot. In the end, Josh Hodges’ 2007 Dodge came out on top again with a 315.79-ft pull. The crew worked hard between pulls to keep the track smooth and packed while fireworks burst overhead. Reminiscent of the 2019 event, the 2.5/2.6 class again came down to less than three feet between the top three spots.
Weight was added and the sled reset for the 3.0 class. This one was all about wheel speed. 336.49-ft was good enough to take Louie Saltsman’s Double Dealer 2.0 to the number one spot. The battle for second came down to Dodge and a Ford, with the final split just over a foot and one mph difference. Jimmy Alexander secured second with a 328.42-ft run. Logan Shephard’s 2008 F250 managed a 327.13-ft pull good enough for third.
The Run What You Brung “RWYB” Open class rounded out the evening with the final hook of the night. Benjamin Eby took home the check with his 1986 AM General, affectionately named Juggernaut, pulling 314.35 feet at 4.4 mph. While far from the fastest pull of the night, it definitely caught the crowd’s attention.
It’s hard to sum up what Beans Diesel Performance has created with Blackout In The Country, but one thing is certain, this isn’t your typical diesel event. Next year, forget the fall festivals. Add this to your October calendar and let’s celebrate some horsepower.