A Cummins-based diesel engine in a second-generation Dodge Ram race truck blew up in a major way in Utah on Saturday, sending pistons flying all over the drag strip, and leaving a camshaft poking up from the engine bay. Just look at this incredible carnage.
Diesel performance parts retailer Power Driven Diesel brought its 1998 Dodge Ram to a Salt Lake City drag strip as part of an event called “Weekend on the Edge,” and after a 1/8 mile drag pull on Saturday, things went very wrong.
When the driver let off the go-pedal, the truck’s throttle stuck open, the kill switch didn’t work, and neither did the fuel-dump safety feature. The results were catastrophic. Just watch this massive explosion:
More impressive than that, look at the blown-up engine:
Will Terry, a co-owner of Power Driven Diesel and also the team’s crew chief, told me the engine—a 6.7-liter Cummins-based design with a solid (i.e. no cooling jackets) Hamilton Cams engine block and three big Garrett turbos—was likely at 3/4 of its max power, making roughly 2,000 ponies, when the failure happened just after the truck managed a 1/8 mile pull in 6.16 seconds at 120.59 mph.
Terry suspects that the fuel injection pump got stuck because of scoring on one of the internal plungers, and with the kill switch—which is meant to close a butterfly valve to limit airflow into the engine—and the fuel dump—which is meant to cut fuel—not working, the driver had no other way to stop than to pop the truck into neutral.
The result was the engine speed going through the roof, and with it, a piston. Terry says he thinks one connecting rod bolt broke, sent one rod and piston through the block, and from there, all hell broke loose.
The fireball was apparently bigger than the truck, with Terry saying it actually burned some ribbons on the very back of the vehicle. The explosion also ruined the hood, pushed the firewall back, cracked the windshield, wrecked the grille, apparently broke the radiator support, and sent oil all over the track.
Luckily, the driver, Todd, who co-owns the company with Terry, walked out of the truck entirely unscathed, which is incredible considering the sheer power from that explosion.
Here’s a look inside the engine bay, which—you should know—normally doesn’t house exposed pistons: