Jean-Pierre Libert’s day job as a helicopter crop duster pilot in Dos Palos, California may keep his head in the clouds, but his 2007 Dodge Ram shows his need for speed is firmly planted on the ground. The truck that Libert has built with help from Cory Dow at Dow Brothers Race Cars isn’t your average diesel truck — this Ram is ready to smash deep into the seven-second zone at the track.
Libert’s first taste of drag racing came as he helped his friend Jay Diedrich in the pits as a crew member on his Top Sportsman and Pro Mod cars. After spending time turning wrenches, Libert decided that he wanted to jump behind the wheel himself and he began the two-year-long journey of building his truck. When the truck was done Libert’s first full pass netted him an 8.80 at 149 mph with a 1.28 sixty-foot time.
The interest in diesels began for Libert back in 2004, but at that time he was more into the sled pulling side of things. For this build, he was more engrossed in drag racing and knew he had to build a lightweight truck if he wanted to go fast.
“I really hadn’t seen a lightweight 4×4 diesel, and I couldn’t stop thinking about building something outside of class lines that would be fun to grudge race, and would be nasty on the street, as well. Cory and I weighed every part that came off or went on, and it took a ton of work to make a 3,600 pound, 7.50-spec truck. We did it with a full steel cab, steel fenders, and factory frame from the cab forward. In the future we look to drop another 200 pounds or so with an aluminum block and head,” Libert explains.
To make the chassis, Cory built a roll cage that worked with a front and rear four-link style suspension that uses a panhard rod in the front, and a wishbone in the rear. Strange Engineering axles help to transfer the horsepower out of the 9-inch rearends as the AFCO shocks apply the power to the ground. To keep weight down, the Dodge uses a set of fiberglass doors, lexan windows, and a lightweight transfer case.
Kingspeed built the 6.7-liter Cummins-based motor that sports a stock crankshaft, Diamond pistons, and Kingspeed connecting rods. A ported head from Haisley Machine helps bring in boosted air through the Kingspeed intake that comes from a Borg-Warner 88mm turbo. Fueling comes from a Waterman mechanical fuel pump that feeds a pair of Fleece Performance Engineering injection pumps and Dynomite Diesel injectors. A full manual 48re transmission from Brown’s Diesel that uses a TCS billet input shaft and Goerend internals transfers all the boosted diesel power through the driveline.
Keeping everything under control and handling the tuning duties is the factory Bosch ECM that is tuned by Les Szmidt at Silver Bullet Tuning. Collecting the data each pass is a Racepak IQ3 data logger dash that works with the Racepak Smartwire system. A Davis Technologies Bump Box assists Libert with staging the truck, while a NOS Launcher will be used as a progressive nitrous controller when Libert turns on the giggle juice.
Even with a stout eight-second pass under his belt Libert is ready to really turn his truck up and see what it can do.
“The ultimate goal is to run 7.99 or better and do it with a 60-foot in the teens. We hope to run 8.50’s on motor and we have a progressive nitrous controller with two stages of nitrous that should add enough power to drop another half-second off our elapsed time once we get the motor-only passes sorted out.”
Jean-Pierre Libert’s Dodge Ram is a truck transformed from just an average street cruiser to a full-on track bruiser. With a few more tweaks Libert’s truck will become one of the quickest diesel-powered rides around by lighting the boards with some impressive seven-second passes.