During qualifying, it took Wade Moody less than 7.5 seconds to reach 186 mph last month on a quarter-mile track in a Chevy S-10 pickup with a diesel engine.
It was a new record set for the category, and it came on the last weekend of September at the National Hot Rod Diesel Association World Finals in Ennis, Texas.
Moody, 30, of Mechanicsville went on that weekend to win his first world championship with the NHRDA in the pro stock competition. He defeated Daniel Pierce of Big Spring, Texas, who drove a Ford Mustang. Moody’s speed was 183 mph in 7.539 seconds in the final race to Pierce’s 108 mph in 9.76 seconds.
“We did not expect this to happen,” said Moody’s mother, Beverly.
“He’s been everywhere,” she said, on the race circuit, from Utah to Canada.
“We’ve ran about 10 events this year,” Wade Moody said from his garage in the Golden Beach neighborhood. “All of our goals pretty much were met.”
Moody races and builds diesel engines for a living and has sponsors like Flo-Pro and Industrial Injection to help with racing expenses. Winning races also carries purses. Racing and selling engines, “it pays the bills,” Moody said. Often, it’s other racers who are buying his engines.
Racing diesel engines is more of a challenge than regular gas engines, he said. Gas engines can run more power and produce more rotations per minute. “It is very challenging because you can’t make horsepower as easily,” Moody said of diesel engines.
Moody said he believes diesel is the fuel of the future as it burns cleaner, offers better mileage and is more reliable. “It’s grabbing the attention of the green market,” he said. “Diesel moves most of the cargo in the world — the biggest power horse most people don’t recognize.”
Now that he has a new speed record with the NHRDA, he has a goal for next year’s racing season: “I want to go to 200 mph.” However, “it takes quite a bit more power to go that little bit” more.
His S-10 truck has a stock body frame, but is not street legal. “He built this truck himself,” Beverly Moody said.
“It’s made specifically for racing,” Wade Moody said. It’s made of lightweight fiberglass, and there are no mirrors, no headlights, no conventional doors. It does have wheelie bars in the rear to keep the truck from flipping over and a parachute pack to stop quickly after a race.
Working in the stock class, “you’re working with a well-limited area. To go fast, that would be the hardest class to go fast in,” he said.
His S-10 has a 1,800 horsepower motor and it takes 500 to 600 horsepower just to drive it through the air at race speeds, he said.
And despite the burst of high speed, “I feel safer in this than in my own car,” he said. There is layer upon layer of safety features built into the equipment.
For a race, Moody puts on a 15-layer fire suit and a fire-rated helmet. The window net keeps would keep his arms from going out of the vehicle during a rollover. The steering wheel detaches to allow him to escape the truck. There is a five-point harness to keep the driver in the seat. The head and neck restraint allows the driver’s top portion to move forward with the rest of the body instead of whiplashing ahead. And there is a fire extinguisher on board.
In a race, the truck will go from zero to 60 mph in less than a second, he said, and zero to 115 mph in three seconds. “It’ll put you in your seat pretty hard,” he said of the G-forces. “The biggest release for me it’s that first 100 feet. If everything goes good there, everything else is fine,” he said.
Moody got his start racing dirt bikes when he was 14. It was there he learned how to be a competitor and to develop a mind set for racing and learned how to build engines.
“I didn’t think I was going to be where I’m at now five years ago. I’m thankful to be where I am,” he said.
He started racing with the NHRDA in 2007. The organization became national the year before. Today, the association hosts 10 events across North America, resulting in the top 32 competitors in each class racing for the world championships.
“Wade Moody hit the NHRDA scene this year at the Texas Diesel Nationals in April and told me that he was going to win both the national championship and the world championship, and I have to admit Wade is a man of his words,” NHRDA President Randy Cole said in an email. “Wade ... competed at events all across the USA and even ... Edmonton, Alberta, in hopes of capturing his first championship. When Wade arrived at our world finals he was trailing by 20 points, but after breaking his own record in qualifying he easily defeated each and every competitor he faced.”