Old Smokey breaks Pikes Peak record

1,400-HP 1949 Ford F1 Breaks A Pikes Peak Record

A 1949 Ford F1 truck, nicknamed “Old Smokey,” just set a new record for the diesel class at the infamously difficult Pikes Peak hill climb.

Scott Birdsall of Chuckles Garage in Santa Monica, California, brought his pride and joy “Old Smokey” to take on the Pikes Peak challenge. “Old Smokey” is based on a 1949 Ford F1 that has been modified to the extent that it is barely admissible as “bone stock.”

Situated in the Rocky Mountains in Colorado, Pikes Peak has been a proving ground for motorsports of all forms for nearly 98 years!

The course is 12.42 miles long, starting at 9,390 feet, and ends at the summit situated at 14,115 feet. It features 156 turns with long sweeping bends, on and off-camber turns, hairpin bends, and switchbacks (with corner named such as “Horseshoe,” “Devil’s Playground”) that test the mettle of man and machine as they navigate the course at breakneck speeds.

The numbers from the powertrain speak for itself. The Ford F1 uses a monstrous Freedom Racing Cummins 6.7 liter diesel with a compound turbo set-up (Garrett G42-1450 and GTW-3884R) producing 1,400 HP! However, it has been dialed down to 1,000 HP for Pikes Peak.

The engine is paired to a sequential shifting 4-speed ATS Diesel Performance 47RE automatic transmission, feeding the rear wheels via a quick-change differential, and 18-inch Toyo rubbers.

An interesting fact about “Old Smokey” is the lack of smoke produced. High-power diesel engines usually roll coal, but thanks to Dynamic Diesel Products’ experimental EDM injectors, a Fass Fuel Systems fuel pump, and the use of NEXGEN’s renewable fuel, this one doesn’t.

Even though “Old Smokey” completed the course in a time of 11:24.065, his owner mentioned that the ECU went in limp mode during the “Devil’s Playground” section. This was due to the coolant temperature hitting 250 degrees centigrade, and as a result, the power was restricted to less than 300 HP.

Despite the issues in the final sector, the old record was broken by 20 seconds, and the owner speculated that the truck would’ve completed the course in 10:40 if the cooling system had functioned properly.

Interesting builds and records like these are what’s keeping the thrill and excitement of ICE-powered automobiles alive and kicking… even though electric race cars and motorcycles are said to vanquish these records soon!


About Pranav Anand

Pranav Anand
Pranav Anand is a mechanical engineer from Bangalore, India. He has always been fascinated with how cars work since childhood and he always had an inclination towards the performance and technical aspects of cars of all shapes and forms. He also loves listening to rock and metal music and exploring new places.

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