Wacky Twincharged Ram EcoDiesel Makes 697 HP in This Pikes Peak Racer

The compression-ignition V6 has two types of forced induction to help it cope with altitude as it climbs to 14,115 feet above sea level.

byCaleb Jacobs|
Builds photo
Scott Birdsall / Amsoil


Remember the EcoDiesel V6? Truck folks loved it in the Ram 1500 for its solid fuel economy—it usually netted around 30 miles per gallon combined—but it was never a massive powerhouse in stock form. Scott Birdsall of Chuckles Garage has fixed that by twincharging one that goes in his Pikes Peak racer, and in its current form, it makes 697 horsepower.

Freedom Racing Engines modded the tar out of the 3.0-liter with a Garrett G45-1125 turbo, a Magnuson RTVS1900 supercharger, and all the supporting upgrades. Andrew from S&S Diesel tuned the Motec M142 and, to ensure it's properly fueled, they installed Dynomite Diesel EDM injectors. Birdsall's shop Chuckles Garage built a custom intake manifold based on a unit from Banks Power and there's a bespoke Armstrong Race Engineering dry sump setup as well. Most of the fittings and fasteners are from Vibrant Performance, ensuring everything stays together with all that boost going on.

Plenty of work has been done inside the engine, too. It only runs Amsoil and the internals were upgraded with Diamond pistons and Wagler rods because VM Motori, the Italian engine manufacturer who built the EcoDiesel, definitely didn't plan on it pushing this much power. Birdsall says it's pushing somewhere between 1,000 and 1,100 pound-feet of torque at the crank, so all those strengthened parts are being put to good use.

It's a sight to see on an engine stand. We don't see many V6 diesels here in the States.

The car it propels is an altered 2016 Superlite LMP1 machine with big aero meant to break a Pikes Peak record. Birdsall currently holds the title for the fastest run up the mountain by a diesel-powered vehicle, a feat which he accomplished a few years back in his Cummins-powered 1949 Ford pickup. He intends to beat his best mark of 11:24.065 this year in the Superlite, which also makes use of an air-shifted six-speed sequential gearbox from 6XD.

Birdsall tells me about 50 percent of the prototype's chassis has been reworked, the suspension has been updated since last year, it has a larger APR dual-plane wing, and the aero works along with Toyo slicks to keep it on the road. It also has an FIA rally-spec cage built around the aluminum monocoque. Sounds like it's ready to tackle the course's 156 turns, then.

This year's running of the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb is coming up soon on June 25. Both of Birdsall's latest creations, the Superlite LMP1 and Ol' Smoky F1, will be there. Here's to hoping we see a new benchmark later this month.

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