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Diesel Truck Drag Racing - Diesel Wars In Miami

A Cult Of Hot Rod Diesels Is Thriving In Florida

Photography by Joe Greeves

Here's a riddle for you. When was the last time you saw the words "having fun", "saving lives", and "gravel pit" in the same paragraph? We'll explain. Our story begins with the old Opa-Locka Airport in northwest Miami that has been idle for many years. The Miami Dade Aviation Authority has future plans to turn the unused airport into a gravel pit that will be worth hundreds of millions of dollars to the community. In the meantime, former circle track racer Pete Scalzo has a better idea. He wanted to provide an outlet for those drivers in Miami with a need for speed, so he and his company leased the land and created the County Line Drag Strip-the first drag strip ever in Miami.

Going to County Line has become the perfect weekend activity for performance enthusiasts in the Miami area because Scalzo creates several unique entertainment options like the monthly "Beat the Heat" program where you can race law enforcement officers and collect a T-shirt and bragging rights if you win. Not only has Scalzo opened a new avenue for racers to quench their thirst for speed, but he has also unexpectedly helped to make the area a safer place to live in. The 1/8th-mile strip has been in operation since January 2007, and Scalzo is pleased to report that there has not been a single accident related to illegal street racing since the track opened.

Diesels Invade Miami
One of the events that caught our eye was the track's latest Sunday get-together called Diesel Wars. Combining a custom car show, motorcycle stunt team, stereo competition, vendors row, and all the excitement of the drag strip, the event had something for everybody. For the ultimate thrill ride, there was even a two-seat dragster where you could catch a ride in the back seat and experience 1/8th mile times of 5.76 seconds at 120 miles an hour. More to the point, Diesel Wars also attracted about a dozen carefully tuned diesel rigs eager to acquire some low-numbered time slips to go along with the equally important bragging rights. Grouped into two-wheel drive and four-wheel drive classes, the trucks let spectators know that diesels were in the crowd with the plumes of black smoke created during qualifying.

We met the owners of the two performance shops behind this diesel-oriented event. Gabby Szuster, owner of GAW Diesel Specialists in Miami, brought out his Ford 4x4 with a 6.0L Power Stroke fitted with a cold air induction system and a chip. On its first run of the day, the truck turned 8.90 and 75 mph in the 1/8-mile. Those are slow times compared to what he predicts for his Dodge that's currently under construction. It will be street-driven, complete with air-conditioning, and should blast through the quarter in the low nines.

Felix Aleman, owner of Outlaw Diesel in Miami, also had several impressive custom diesel pickups on display in his booth, but nothing could compare to his radical under-construction S-10 pickup fitted with a 6.0L twin turbo Power Stroke from an '03 Ford that's set to run with 60 to 70 psi of boost and create about 900 horsepower. The chassis work includes a huge C-notch to accommodate the air springs, a Ford 9-inch rear axle, and a heavy-duty Tranny Tech transmission. Felix expects to finish the truck in about four months. His Cummins-powered 1,200-hp Ranger has already appeared in Diesel Power, but missed this show due to a damaged brake line.

Even with the best of plans, everyone learned that Mother Nature is always in charge. Before the afternoon eliminations could begin, a torrent of Florida's liquid sunshine put an end to the festivities. Thankfully, Miami now has an active local drag strip that promotes high-speed competition in a safe environment, keeping racing on the track and off the streets. High-performance diesels have become an exciting addition to the County Line attractions. If you're down that way, drop in for some weekend fun. Get the details at countylinedragwayinc.com.

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