Break, fix, repeat. That was Derek Rose’s philosophy when it came to learning what worked and what didn’t with diesel performance.
“That’s pretty much how the whole industry has evolved in my opinion,” Rose says.
With a background in racing Motocross and running a concrete business with his stepdad, Derek had an appetite to try something new, and the rumblings of increased diesel performance engine work intrigued him. On what he says was a whim, Derek decided to start a diesel shop called DNR Customs in Casco, MI, back in 2006.
“I used to race Motocross and once that was done and the extra money from that went away, I needed to find something to do, so I got my hands wet in in this field,” Rose says. “I started the shop on a whim. The diesel industry has always been there, but the performance side of things were really starting to boom at that time. We started by working on first Gen, mechanical 12 valves. That’s how I learned, and then the Common Rails came later on down the road.”
From 2006 to 2009, Derek was still working in his concrete business while also running DNR Customs. For those three years, DNR was working on old 12 valves and doing exhaust installs for customers.
Over the years, the business evolved and today the shop works on everything from your basic diesel repair to full-blown competition vehicles for sled pulling or drag racing.
“We do a lot of custom fabrication stuff here too such as custom piping, turbo builds, roll cages, suspension work and things like that,” he says. “We also do transmission stuff. Our two biggest engines are Dodge and Ford. We’re probably 20% Chevy, but our main thing is doing a lot of Cummins and Powerstroke stuff.
“We do a handful of sled pulling trucks and drag trucks, but our average customer is the street customer who is towing his camper on the weekends and it’s a work truck during the week. That customer is our primary focus.”
DNR has six full-time employees, including Derek, and is a 5,000 sq.-ft. shop with four service bays and one fabrication bay. For its high-performance machining work, DNR uses Freedom Racing Engines, but does everything else in-house.
As the performance side of the diesel industry kept growing, Derek and the shop thought it would be good to have a dedicated race truck for DNR to run.
“Our own shop truck, which started out at 800-900 horsepower, has kept evolving over the years into what we have now,” Rose says. “We have one of the most powerful Common Rail Cummins there is.”
With 900 horsepower in the truck 8 years ago or so, the shop was constantly breaking things and not having much fun. Derek decided to invest in a dedicated race rig.
“That’s where the blue truck came from,” he says. “We actually bought a wrecked truck from a salvage auction. It has transformed over the years from a 1,000-horse street truck into a 2,500 horsepower drag truck that is one of the top four-wheel drive trucks in the country currently. We’re looking to break the record for time for the quickest four-wheel-drive diesel ever in the 1/8th-mile. The record is a 4.97, so we’re looking to go 4.96 in the 1/8th. We went 5.04 a few weeks ago with it.”
To get the 2006 regular cab, Dodge 2500 moving that quick, DNR Customs started the new engine build with a Hamilton Cams 7.0L Cummins-based block.
“We get the block from Hamilton and Freedom Racing Engines did the machine work,” he says. “On top of that, the block gets sleeved, has girdle work and firing work done to it too. We run a 1˝ deck plate on top with 1˝ longer Wagler rods, Diamond pistons and a stock Cummins crank. The engine has a Freedom Racing cylinder head and Freedom Racing side draft intake. We use Dynomite Diesel’s Super Mental injectors that are roughly 500-600% over stock. We used Mahle bearings and Trend Performance valvetrain components. We have three BD Diesel 12mm CP3s. The engine uses a dry sump oiling system, has a two-stage nitrous system and a water-to-air intercooler system. We also run a single, Forced Induction, 102mm, Garrett turbocharger.”
Aside from being a very, very quick truck, DNR’s 7.0L Cummins engine is very, very powerful as well. In fact, the truck and engine combo holds the record for most chassis dyno power.
“We did 2,503 horsepower and 3,789 ft.-lbs. of torque,” Rose says. “We also won the Ultimate Callout Challenge this year and took second the year before. We won the chassis dyno last year as well. We’ve been pretty much the most powerful truck in the country on the chassis dyno two years in a row.”
With the Dodge 2500 and 7.0L Cummins in tip-top shape, Derek says he plans to defend the shop’s title at the 2020 Ultimate Callout Challenge.
“We’re planning to go back to defend our title at Ultimate Callout Challenge next year,” he says. “We don’t plan on changing a lot of things because everything is working great. It’s taken years to get the combo correct and the truck needs nothing. We plan on just revamping everything this winter and refreshing everything and going back swinging again.”
With this set up, we have no doubt there are more horsepower and ET records on the horizon for DNR Customs and its Dodge 2500!
The Diesel of the Week eNewsletter is sponsored by AMSOIL.
If you have an engine you would like to highlight in this series, please email Engine Builder magazine’s Editor, Greg Jones at [email protected].