Turbocharged LML Durmax Dragster - Engine Builder Magazine

Turbocharged LML Durmax Dragster

Everybody loves a good diesel dragster! Paul Vasko's is an LML Duramax, complete with a GT55 turbo, a heap of nitrous, and a number of other additions that make this build an absolute powerhouse.

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Paul Vasko’s journey into the world of diesel racing began over two decades ago when he was just a high school student. His fascination with drag racing ignited when he and his father ventured to the track for a high school challenge. Although his initial runs were far from record-breaking, Paul was instantly hooked, setting the stage for his enduring love affair with high-performance diesel engines.

Fast forward to today, and Paul has become a prominent figure in the diesel racing scene, all thanks to his unwavering passion for these machines. However, what sets Paul and his dragster apart is the purpose-built nature of his machine.

In a world where emissions regulations are tightening their grip on diesel enthusiasts, Paul’s dragster stands as a beacon of unrestricted performance.

“I wanted to build something that none of the people who helped me could get in trouble,” Vasko says. “This is a competition purpose-built vehicle.”

With no VIN, this competition-focused vehicle allows Paul and his team to push the boundaries without fear of repercussions from regulatory authorities. This unique approach has not only fueled their love for diesel racing, but also allowed them to share their journey on social media.

Safety has always been a top priority for Paul, especially with a family to consider. Hence, the choice of a dragster – an inherently safer platform for high-speed racing. It’s lightweight, fast and a more cost-effective option compared to other forms of racing. Paul’s wife’s approval and encouragement made the decision even easier, as it aligned with their goal of keeping racing as safe as possible because of their two young children.

Paul’s diesel racing journey has had its fair share of twists and turns. He initially experimented with a 6.6L Duramax engine fitted into a 1971 Chevelle. While the experience was exhilarating, it soon became apparent that a more capable chassis was required to fully unleash the engine’s potential. This realization was the genesis of Paul’s current project – a purpose-built dragster with an LML Duramax at its heart.

Beneath the dragster’s sleek exterior lies a filled stock block with Wagler ductile iron heads. The powertrain also features a Wagler intake, and a complete rotating assembly sourced from Wagler. The engine assembly was entrusted to the capable hands of Matt Hatfield, a respected name in the diesel racing community, known for his precision and expertise.

Fuel injection duties are seamlessly managed by S&S Diesel Motorsport components, including 500% over injectors and twin reverse rotation 12mm CP3 pumps. S&S also played a pivotal role in wiring and integrating the engine with the MoTeC engine management system, ensuring that everything operates in perfect harmony.

For the forced induction, Vasko’s Duramax features a Stainless Diesel GT55, boasting a 102mm turbine wheel. During a trans-brake launch, this setup propels Vasko’s dragster from 0psi to 26psi in just 4 seconds.

Vasko’s setup also incorporates a nitrous system. Positioned behind him, two 375 solenoids from Nitrous Outlet are ready to unleash an additional surge of power. Currently, only one solenoid is being used as Vasko fine-tunes the setup for optimal performance.

On the track, Paul’s dragster has been putting down some impressive numbers, with an estimated power output ranging between 1,600-1,700 horsepower at the flywheel. However, there’s room for improvement, as the absence of a wheelie bar forces Paul to be cautious with the launch.

In the short term, Paul aims to get that wheelie bar in place and further improve the dragster’s 60-foot time. In the long term, he envisions upgrading to aluminum heads or even an aluminum block to shed some weight from the dragster. The lighter chassis will not only make the car more agile, but also open the door to NHRA and PDRA events, where weight plays a crucial role in performance.

Paul’s ultimate goal is to consistently clock 3.80-second passes in the eighth-mile. Achieving this would require an impressive combination of power, traction and precision – a challenge he and his team are eagerly pursuing.

Diesel of the Week is sponsored by AMSOIL. If you have an engine you’d like to highlight in this series, please email Engine Builder Editor Greg Jones at [email protected].

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