Speak of “climate change” in the presence of climate and green energy activists, and you’ll instantly elicit visions in their minds of “dirty” diesel pickups, trailing plumes of black smoke in their wake as they erode the planet and slowly kill the human race. Nevermind the undeniable fact that diesel is greener to produce and emits less CO2 and greenhouse gases than gasoline, it’s all about the optics.
Ohio racer Steve Royalty comically has played off this narrative and utilization of terms, coining his wild, one-of-a-kind 2000 Dodge Dakota most appropriately, “Climate Change.”
Royalty’s pickup, which looks like something out of a Hot Wheels box, or perhaps a George Barris creation, is powered by a triple-turbocharged 6.7-liter Cummins, with turbos high atop the bed for maximum visual effect on its way to 4-second laps down the 660. The truck was a three-year project by Steve, his father Merit, son Tyler, and John Cook, that followed a period of more than two decades in bracket racing and other avenues.
Royalty began bracket racing in Super Pro delay-box competition in 1997, and in 2005 had the opportunity to get in the seat of dragster. Within a year he had a won a 50-grander, as he traveled and competed with the nation’s best at “all the big boy bracket races.” In 2010, he drove a supercharged ’55 Chevy in match race competition, then took a breather for a handful of years as life got in the way. When he came back, he drove a diesel-powered pickup known as “Flirting With Disaster” in the Outlaw Diesel Super Series, but recognizing the need for a more purpose-built vehicle, set off to build “Climate Change.” Three years later, the project was complete, and as he puts it, he’s “been all-in ever since.”
“Before we were drag racers, we were sled-pullers. In the late 1970s, early ‘80s, my dad was a top contender in the 5,000- and 7,000-pound modified classes,” Steve tells. “He had a badass International, and he was one of the first to put compound triple turbos on a pulling tractor in his class. We’ve got a lot of diesel history, and we got burned out on the bracket racing scene, so we want to do something different. But we wanted to race, and that’s what brought all of this together. We basically have a Pro Stock diesel pulling tractor engine — 3,000 horsepower and 3,500 lb-ft of torque. If you can’t move something with that, well, good luck.”
made our first test hit for Rudy's today! 😈Posted by Official:Climate Change on Thursday, October 3, 2019
A Scheid Diesel LSM aluminum Cummins engine block serves as the basis for the powerplant that was built by Kent Crowder. With its upgraded Diamond Pistons and R&R rods, the mill is bored .030-inch over, achieving 401 cubic-inches and a 14.2:1 compression ratio. A HIMES cast steel head (soon to be replaced with an aluminum edition) massaged by John Cook is filled with inconel exhaust and titanium intake valves, controlled by a COMP solid roller cam spec’ed by Scheid.
A DSR gear-driven pump feeding a 14mm injection pump delivers the high-pressure fuel (4,500 psi at 6700 RPM) through Scheid triple-feed injectors to the custom Gary Taylor Race Cars-fabricated intake manifold. A combination of nitrous oxide and water-methanol injection keep the temperatures in range. A Jones Racing dry sump pump and custom dry sump pan and tank deliver the all-important oiling needs. As is often found on high-horsepower diesel applications, the turbochargers are arranged in a compound configuration, with two 82mm snails feeding a larger 105mm unit. In what is sure to raise some eyebrows, one of said turbos is located inside the cab with Royalty.
“We’ve got a ballistic blanket and a scatter-shield in the cab…everything is wrapped up pretty tight in the cab with me,” Steve says. “It’s not legal NHRA, they won’t let you put a turbo in the cab, but we don’t run NHRA, we’re outlaws, doing our own thing. It is dangerous, but we’ve got safety things involved, and I should be fine. If it goes through all of that, it was meant to be.”
The two Forced Induction turbos out back produce 40-pounds of boost, and when compounded into the larger turbo in the cockpit (this is being replaced by a 114mm from Hart’s Turbo for ‘22) and mixed with nitrous oxide, delivers a whopping 170 psi into the intake manifold. “And we can make more,” Royalty says, adding, “it’s blowing off at 170, so we could make a lot more. We’ve got 99 problems, but boost is not one of them. A hundred and seventy is plenty.”
Under the Dakota’s flanks is a double framerail, 125-inch wheelbase, Pro Modified-style chrome-moly chassis built by Gary Taylor Race Cars in Dayton, Ohio. Gary also built the 9-inch rearend housing (with a 3.25 gear and Moser 40-spline axles), before Royalty and his team assembled everything and got it dialed in. Strange Engineering shocks are at all four corners, with custom suspension components, including the four-link, fabricated by Taylor.
In another unique twist, Royalty utilizes a Lenco three-speed manual transmission and a four-disc clutch, along with a hand-operated throttle to stage and launch.
On a pass, Royalty pushes the throttle to 100-percent, and an electronic throttle limiter is engaged to hold it back when staging. When he goes into the beams, he loads the brake pedal (there are dual-caliper brakes on the rear), slips the clutch with the engine around 4500-5000 (depending on track conditions) to bump it in, and then the limiter disengages, lighting off all the power and torque. While he does not use nitrous oxide to spool, a button on the hand throttle allows him to use it if necessary in a situation where boost pressure is lost. Once off and rolling, the truck is controlled by a traditional foot throttle.
He’s alternated between manual and air shifting operation while learning the nuances of what the combination wants, both as a tuner and driver.
Without electronic fuel injection and the ease of adjusting fuel curves and ignition timing it affords, “Climate Change” and its mechanical injection setup puts on a rather naughty (to a climate activist, anyway) show.
“We had intentions of building the baddest, fastest diesel truck on Earth, which we have not accomplished, but what we lack in ‘go’ we make up in ‘show,’ with the whole smoke-show and everything. It’s fun to watch, it’s fast, it’s not the fastest, but we’ve still got room to grow. We wanted something exotic, fast as f***, and just bad to the bone,” he says, adding, “When I was a kid, there wasn’t anything cooler than watching the old man spool the International up, hook to a sled, and get ready to jam down. We kind of brought that whole effect to the dragstrip.”
This is what you do when you lost a Atmosphere turbo, and your 500 miles from home! We will be qualifying at Rudy’s with a single charger ..... Going to be interesting ￼Posted by Official:Climate Change on Thursday, April 22, 2021
Royalty has been a 4.54 at 162 mph to the 1/8-mile on a prepped track, but says just sorting out the combination and make it all work has been a continual challenge. He’s broken a lot of parts along the way, and many of the struggles come from having more power and torque than he can feasibly use, and relying on the mechanical fuel injection that most top-level diesel racers have long-since abandoned.
“We just thought outside the box with this thing. But when you do a one-of-one, you really have to dig and find people to do things…it’s not like you can just order parts out of a catalog and have them dropped off at your doorstep. So there are a lot of people involved in this,” Steve explains.
Royalty campaigns his creation in the ODSS’s Pro Mod class, numerous local “quick 16” series and events, and even big-tire no-prep races. And it was the latter that led to perhaps his greatest opportunity yet. After competing in the big-tire (non-invitational) program at “Street Outlaws No Prep Kings” in Columbus, Ohio this summer, doors were opened to put “Climate Change” on the small screen.
“Street Outlaws wants us to come do some street racing with them. Within 10 minutes of leaving ‘No Prep Kings’ in Ohio, one of the producers contacted us and let us know they definitely wanted us on the show next season,” he shares.
The Royalty clan’s project is certainly a labor of love, one that is the culmination of decades of diesel racing experience gleaned through truck and tractor pulling and drag racing alongside his father. They dared to be different — in a host of ways — and while the records may come, the machine they built has got people talking and satisfied their craving for horsepower at the same time.
“My dad is the mastermind behind this build. He’s the one that’s done without to get it, so I’m fortunate to be the one to get to pilot it. It’s a fun ride…a tough one, but boy, if you make it happen in there, it’s a hell of a feeling. But it’s a challenging one.”