Turbocharged 12-Valve Cummins Engine

Turbocharged 12-Valve Cummins Engine

Guys like Cody Helms prove that being competitive in diesel motorsports doesn't have to be a pocket-emptying hobby.

Courtesy of Engine Builder by  Evan Laux

The Ultimate Callout Challenge was a real treat this year – with over 200 trucks competing (including ODSS racing), there was no shortage of wicked diesel engines to check out. Despite it being a competition event, UCC is also somewhat of a glorified diesel truck show where most racers have their vehicles out in full display for spectators and other racers to check out if they have the time – and that bodes perfectly for the Engine Builder team.

We arrived at Lucas Oil Raceway bright and early on Friday morning and immediately began scouring the grounds for people to talk to. Our first stop was with Cody Helms of HDP Performance.

“We’ve been coming to UCC and running in the ODSS series for four years now,” Cody Helms says. “We started out with a 6.70 truck to learn the ropes and had a pretty rough first year trying to get in dialed in. Years two and three were a lot better and consistent, and after we made some changes and started running in the 6.20s and 6.30s, we decided to go ahead and make the leap to 5.90 for this year.”

Helms owns a business in Chesterfield, SC called HDP Performance, where they offer mostly diesel engine repair work, transmission work and conversions. Performance work isn’t off the table though, and his 12-valve Cummins drag truck is a prime example of this.

“We were running a basic maxed out 12mm fuel pump in 6.70,” Helms says. “We made a change on nitro setups when we moved to 5.90 and actually took off a lot of weight from the truck two winters ago. The truck lost a lot of weight, gained some power and we switched to a 13mm pump and went with a stainless S485, and now she’s happy.”

The 13mm Farrell injection pump flows 990cc and is paired with Industrial Injection’s R6 fuel injectors. The stainless turbo comes with a Steed Speed T6 132 manifold.

As for internals, Helms is running the original factory engine block and crank from 1997. Helms also added an O-ringed and ported head, Manton pushrods and valve springs, Wagler Street Fighter rods, MAHLE forged race pistons, and a bottom end studded with ARP 625s.

“I think next year we’ll move more toward an aftermarket head setup, that’ll be our next bump in the road,” he says. “The biggest issue with these is they crack between the valves since there’s not a whole lot of material. Keeping the EGTs down has helped us a lot, but we’ll probably move to a Hamilton head.

“The one thing I’d like to say about this build to everyone is you don’t have to have a $50,000 engine to be competitive. If you put in your research, do your math and talk to the guys that know their stuff, you can make it work.”

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