by Brian Lohnes, photos by Dave Nutting and Brian Lohnes
This thing is truly insane. A 23,000lb behemoth making 1,000hp at the tire that defies logic, the known laws of physics, and all levels of common sense. On the day photog Dave Nutting and I met Leon Smith, the owner of this 1998 Kenworth T-800 truck, it was way below zero. The wind was howling at the huge gravel pit we were shooting the photos at, the pyrometer on the dash of the truck was hovering near zero and the big diesel motor was not all that happy. Leon had spiked the gas tank with a big dose of anti-gelling agent, which was good because we had already spotted at least one dead truck with a tank full of goo on the side of the road. Dave and I were hoping to get some burnout shots but we didn’t want Leon to wound the motor. I threw a non-chalant, “Can you do a burnout of two without hurting it?” at Leon and his immediate response was, “Oh yeah, we can do burnouts.” GAME ON!
This is a Kenworth dump truck doing burnouts!
This is the most BangShift approved hot rod dump truck on Earth, mainly because Leon has forged a long and lonely trail of performance innovations with a relatively unloved engine family, good old fashion Yankee ingenuity, and he still uses the truck at work every day.
Cutting to the chase, this truck has run the quarter mile in 14.2 seconds at over 98mph with an Eaton-Fuller 18-speed manual transmission! Most likely that will wipe the floor with whatever you drove to work in and it will eat a lot of street rods alive. With a new slate of upgrades for 2012, Leon hopes to punch the 10-ton truck into the 13 second zone. Rudolph Diesel just threw up Dio horns in his grave. The larger question within these shockingly awesome numbers is pretty glaring, though. How the hell did this happen? How did a guy become obsessed with making a dump truck haul 12 yards of ass at the drag strip?