Proving high-performance diesel power is more than a cloud of black smoke, Gale Banks Engineering campaigns the worlds fastest, smokeless, most efficient quarter-mile truck in drag racing.
Reaching new heights almost every time it runs, the Banks Sidwinder S-10 Duramax drag racing truck ran a 7.72 best at 179.21 mph at the Auto Club Dragway on Saturday March 29, 2008. An hour later, the S-10 backed up its best run with a 7.78, 179.23.
Not only is this Sidewinder S-10 Duramax a platform for Banks Engineering research and development, but with most every pass down the quarter mile, it spins heads and advances light-truck diesel power into uncharted territory. It was only a vision at first, but Gale Banks recognized a platform his engineers and engine builders could run with. Smokeless, guilt-free performance would be the target.
Consistent quarter-mile runs in the sevens held promise. One of Banks near-term goals is to see the National Hot Rod Association (NHRA) allow the Banks Sidewinder S-10 Duramax Diesel drag truck to run in the Top Sportsman class at NHRA events. Currently, the Banks Sidewinder is not assigned to a specific race vehicle class. When they go to the drag strip, the Banks Team enters the Sidewinder S-10 for exhibition runs or enters a race class where the S-10 can make a run, but not compete within the class.
The Banks Sidewinder S-10 Duramax Diesel drag truck is a candy apple red-over-gold, slick shod sled moving quickly towards the 7.60 E.T. range. At the green light, the built, balanced and blueprinted 6.6L (403-ci) Duramax V8 puts out an estimated 1,300 horsepower and twists out more than 1,300 lb.-ft. torque. Configured as it is right now, the Duramax 6.6L turns 5,500 rpm at full throttle.
This truck first broke into the seven-second quarter mile (7.965, 167.34) at Speedworld Dragstrip in Wittmann, Arizona on December 18, 2007. Then on February 21, 2008, the Banks Sidewidner S-10, ran a 7.89, 173.5 during testing at Speedworld Dragstrip. The Banks Sidewinder S-10 ran a total of four passes in the sevens down the quarter mile that day.
The Banks Sidewinder S-10, and its repeatedly quick times on the quarter mile racetrack, continues to validate the purpose of running this truck as a test bed for the diesel technology, hardware, and electronics spilling out of Banks Engineering.
This Banks Sidewinder S-10 project started to take shape when Gale Banks sought a proven, well-built rolling platform to handle the twin-turbocharged Duramax 6.6L diesel engine he was working on. The alternative was to build his own race chassis. Building a drag-truck chassis from the ground up would take focus, resources and energy away from the engine development program. Engine development is where Banks Engineering established core-competencies decades ago, and a leadership position Banks continues today.
Then Banks found out about a Don Ness-built Chevy S-10 Pro Stock Truck for sale by Panella Trucking out of Stockton, California. Originally this Ness Racecraft chassis had a NHRA Pro Stock Truck future, until the race category was discontinued. Per NHRA rules, the Pro Stock Truck class required a steel cab and bed. Carbon composite doors, fenders and engine hood are weight savers, but the cab and bed must be issued in Dearborn.
The race-truck chassis had the room to shoe-in a 6.6L LMM Duramax engine, and the chassis only had a few runs on it. All in all, it appeared to be a good choice to build the Duramax program with.
Building a 6.6L LMM Duramax V8 diesel for power would be challenging, but it’s the fun part. Getting this power to the ground presents even greater challenges.
Sidewinder S-10 Duramax Diesel Race Program
In the current state of diesel drag race technology, high-powered engines typically produce huge amounts of black smoke pouring out of the exhaust pipes as the trucks power up in the staging lanes. Banks, however, sees the future of diesel drag racing differently. He's currently working with the NHRA to change its rulebook to allow diesel trucks to use nitrous oxide in conjunction with turbochargers. The "throttle in a bottle" power adder has a side benefit in diesels: It clears the smoke during starting-line power-ups, eliminating the choking exhaust clouds that would otherwise turn off many of the NHRA's loyal drag race fans. The late Wally Parks, the NHRA's founder, had personally assisted Banks in his quest; and currently, three national classes and six Western Division classes have agreed to the rules change. Read Gale Banks' letter to the NHRA.
October 19, 2006
Mr. Danny Gracia
National Technical Director
National Hot Rod Association
Thank you for your visit today. This letter is a formal request for your consideration on the following matter.
The use of the diesel engines, in the United States, now exceeds ten million units. The people who currently own diesels are, in the main, diehard gearheads. They have purchased diesel, and paid more for it, because they are engine literate.
Gearheads love racing, and there are more gearheads per capita among diesel owners than in any other automotive category you can name. These guys love diesel and support Nascar and NHRA. Yet, there is nowhere for them to see a diesel vehicle race against gasoline-powered top-level competition
I suggest that NHRA add to the draw at each event by encouraging diesel-powered entries. These entries would be in Super Street, Super Gas, Super Comp, Top Sportsman, Top Comp and Top Dragster.
This accommodation would be simple and, done right, would provide reliable, smoke-free, consistent diesel racing. Further, these vehicles would be able to stage and go whether a full tree or pro tree is being utilized.
Please understand that all modern diesels come with turbocharging. Diesel engines are designed to go hundreds of thousands of miles turbocharged. So turbos on a diesel are not adding a tremendous additional stress. These engines, unlike gasoline designs, are intended to be turbocharged. But to compete properly, something more is needed.
The need, as far as the diesel competition is concerned, is for the rule book to provide for the use of nitrous. Please understand that unlike a spark-ignited engine, a diesel has no throttle in the intake system. A diesel produces greater power through enriching the air-fuel ratio. So a diesel idles at approximately 50-1 air-fuel and makes full power around 18-1. The problem comes when greater power is attempted with more fuel (richness) being added. Then tremendous smoke and internal engine temperature are produced. In a diesel, leaner is safer and cooler, which is completely the opposite of spark-ignited engines. So in diesels, nitrous is safer. And, as no fuel is in the intake manifold, catastrophic backfires are non-existent.
To stage quickly and cleanly and to run smoke-free, diesels, in addition to their turbochargers, require nitrous in NHRA. This is not an unfair advantage in these categories as, in these categories, all competition has the jeopardy of break out. Further, nitrous leans out the engines such that smoke in the air or possible parts on the track are reduced to a minimum.
Today's electronically controlled diesels have brought a quicker-responding, cleaner engine than just 10 years ago. Old, mechanically injected diesels are much more difficult to control as regards fuel; thus, smoke and temperature are more problematic.
In the next 10 years, further advances in electronics, injection, turbo control and cylinder heads will make the engines even better. But today, nitrous usage will answer, rather than add to, NHRA's concerns about diesel drag cars.
So, I request a small addition to the 2007 Rule Book allowing the use of nitrous on turbo diesel engines. It is safe and reliable, and when combined with electronic fuel injection, will draw great interest from the diesel vehicle manufacturers, General Motors, Ford and Daimler Chrysler. Soon to join them will be Nissan and Toyota.
Gentlemen, let's add a new dimension to the mix. Diesel vs. gasoline is as polarizing as Chevy vs. Ford. Let's put some diesel fans in the stands.
Very truly yours,
A long-term reason for building and running the Banks Sidewinder S-10 Duramax diesel is to educate consumers about how diesel is a powerful and efficient alternative to gasoline. Banks wants to see diesel spread to the mass automotive market, both as a choice for those seeking its frugal efficiency, as well as for those willing to pay for a premium, powerful vehicle. He's even trademarked the slogan, "Guilt-Free Performance," to describe the powerful and economical benefits of using diesel in a light-duty automotive application.