Ryan Milliken’s Diesel-Powered Radial Tire Nova Turns Heads

Hardway Performance Solutions owner Ryan Milliken dropped a few jaws at Lights Out 8 last month when he rolled his wild 1966 Nova to the line with a diesel powerplant under the hood.  Every pass the Nova would build boost while belching huge plumes of black smoke before it would rocket down the track while running in the X275 and Leaf Spring class action. Milliken’s Nova is stuffed with some of the best parts on the market and will be making some noise across the country at both gas and diesel races this season.

Milliken’s Nova isn’t a new build; the car was campaigned by Mickey Tessneer and was powered by a ProCharged big-block Chevy. Interestingly, this project is  a conglomeration of two different features we’ve run published on Dragzine — one on the Nova formerly owned by Tessneer and another on Milliken and the truck he campaigned previously.0E2A8476

With the Nova, Gone is the bowtie engine and it its place a 6.8L Cummins-based bullet with a solid block. The rotating assembly uses a stock Cummins crank, Diamond pistons, and Wagler billet steel rods. The cylinder head is a custom billet unit from Wagler that has 1.500-inch valves and Trend pushrods, and a Hamilton Cams 207/220 camshaft is the brains of the motor’s top end.

 

For boost, Milliken added a Garrett Turbo GTX5533R GENII 88 mm turbo that uses a Stainless Diesel manifold. This setup doesn’t use any wastegates or blow-off valves to control the boost. A Precision Turbo PT4000 intercooler helps to keep the air nice and chilled each pass. Since the rules allow for dual power adders with a six-cylinder motor, Milliken added three dry nitrous kits from Induction Solutions to provide an extra 700 horsepower kick when needed.

Lights Out was the Nova’s first trip to the track, and Milliken had zero intentions of taking it easy on the car. “We threw the kitchen sink at it every single pass and it came back limping, bleeding, and parts dragging behind it each time. Before the race we basically made it move under its own power after the initial build and stuffed it in the trailer with zero testing or dyno tuning. We didn’t qualify for X275 like we had hoped, and we went out first round eliminations in Leaf Spring class because the turbo didn’t spool on the injured engine, so we ended up timing out,” Milliken says.

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Since Lights Out, Milliken has addressed all of the issues that showed up during the Nova’s maiden voyage to get ready for the rest of 2017. The car is now riding on a set of 28×10.5 slicks to make it legal for the majority Milliken’s racing schedule, but it will be back on the Mickey Thompson Pro 275 radial for action this fall at No Mercy.

About the author

Brian Wagner

Spending his childhood at different race tracks around Ohio with his family’s 1967 Nova, Brian developed a true love for drag racing. When Brian is not writing, you can find him at the track as a crew chief, doing freelance photography, or beating on his nitrous-fed 2000 Trans Am.
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