If you’ve been in the Power Stroke game more than 10-12 years, this truck may look a bit familiar. But for those of you that have entered the Ford diesel arena in the last decade, you may be seeing it for the first time. This little black OBS Lightning was the first Power Stroke powered truck to run a 9-second quarter mile clear back in 2011. Built by one of the original Power Stroke performance shops in the country, Wide Open Performance, owned by Zane Koch of Sandy, UT was synonymous for setting records and pumping out the most impressive Fords in the country. As true innovators in the 7.3L Power Stroke market, Koch and friends Casey Cherrington and Jerred Mattingley started really pushing the limits of the OBS Ford trucks clear back in 2000-2001 when bigger fuel and propane were all the rage. They were among the first to break 500hp, then 600hp, and later 700hp in Power Stroke powered trucks.
Through the early years they used trial and error to find the weak links with the platform, helping aftermarket companies like Hypermax and Crower to develop stronger connecting rods, better camshaft profiles, and injectors that could outflow what was originally though possible. Working with a small turbocharger shop out of Oregon (Bell Turbo), they even became one of the first to ever try compound
turbos on a 7.3L Power Stroke. Zanes personal daily driver, a 1996 4x4 single cab truck had become their test rig and had been getting faster every season. 12-second quarter miles, more testing, more fuel, a little nitrous and the 11’s soon came. After chasing unknown electrical gremlins and chassis issues, it all
came together at the diesel world finals in Texas 2006 when that 4x4 truck dialed in and ran a 10.83@125mph. Officially setting the quickest Power Stroke record and becoming the first to ever run in the 10’s. Running a business became more important and the drag truck got put on the back burner shortly after but he need for speed was in Koch’s blood and he soon had the itch to build something
Knowing what they were up against with that heavy 4x4, still mostly original OBS chassis, it was decided to start over with an all new dedicated drag truck chassis and Koch knew exactly where to get it. With a quick phone call to an old friend (Richard ‘Maddog’ Madsen) who had been storing this old tubbed out and fiber glassed Ford Lightning for a few years with plans to diesel power it and race it himself, Koch’s dream for a 9-second Power Stroke began to materialize when the truck was rolled out of a trailer and into the Wide Open Performance shop. As nothing more than a roller chassis, it made for a great starting point but needed a lot of work before it’d see any track time.
Koch and his friends at the shop started putting in the extra work after hours, rebuilding 4-links, installing Corbeau race seats, finalizing steering linkage and getting new tires and wheels under it so the chassis could be inspected and certified for the times they’d planned to run. After that, all efforts went into the drivetrain. Of course, they leaned on their expertise in the 7.3L Power Stroke and implemented all the little tricks they’d learned over the previous couple years with an all new camshaft profile, ported cylinder heads, main stud girdle and a cryogenically treated and hardblok filled engine block. Wide Opens own fire ring kit was used with H11 head studs to seal the heads to the block and Hypermax’s
latest connecting rods and some prototype fly cut Mahle pistons completed the long short block.
With an all-new injector design that outflowed anything ever seen on the market before and a set of Terminator Engineering dual high pressure oil pumps, they knew they’d have all the fuel they needed to make north of 1000hp and it was going to take a specialized set of turbocharger and a stage nitrous system to get them over the hump and dip into the 9’s. Using 4 small stages of nitrous controlled by a progressive Launcher NOS controller they were able to bring the power in smoothly to plant all the power to the track without upsetting the chassis. For turbochargers, WOP set out to do something else no one had ever seen on the Power Stroke. The first set of triple turbochargers, which were basically unheard of in the diesel scene on any truck back then. With the help of Pius Eberle at Bell, the S300 Borg Warner based turbos were spec’d and installed with the crafty hands of Mattingly behind the tig torch.
Backing all that horsepower and making sure it’d get to the ground like it should, Koch opted to stick to the tried and true original 4R100 transmission, built by Brians Truck Shop of Arkansas. BTS Transmissions had been and is still known as one of the premier Ford transmission shops in the country and had been shifting all of Wide Opens high horsepower builds for over ten years. Running out of time in the spring of 2011, the crew made a few spool-up passes in the back parking lot before loading the truck up for the NHRDA event being hosted in Phoenix, AZ that March. They were able to make a few shakedown passes
Friday night before the event started and things were looking great with fuel only passes in the low 11’s and a small nitrous pass to ensure wastegates were set where they needed to be in the low 10’s.
Saturday morning all bets were off and it was time to take this chassis into an all new realm with more horsepower on tap than they’d need, the goal was to run 9’s and prove the 7.3L Power Stroke could step up to the table and play with Duramax and Cummins trucks at the track. On the first qualifying pass of the morning, with the nitrous bottles at the perfect pressure and the track sticky before the Arizona sun got to it, the truck ripped off a 9.99@133mph. Another new Power Stroke record, now the quickest and fastest ever down the track. But to ensure that record could stand, it needed to be backed up on the following pass. So, with some adjustments to tire pressures and the nitrous coming in just a bit stronger,
they did just that. email@example.com! With hopes of continuing to raise the bar that day, the track got greasy and the 60-ft times slowed down. Koch also had troubles holding the truck on the line and would push through the brakes, meaning a trans brake would be needed if they wanted to launch any harder.
Soon after those first few passes, Koch received an opportunity to go to work for a big name in the diesel industry and Wide Open Performance closed up shop. With that, some of the 7.3L Power Stroke innovation died and the torch was passed off to other shops in the business. The Lightning sat for a year or two and was soon converted over to the 5.9L Cummins power plant and can now be found ripping
around the ODSS drag race scene still setting records as one of the fastest trucks on the track. In the 12 years since those record setting passes, there have only been a handful of Power Strokes to surpass that record and while it’s long gone and mostly forgotten. Those that were in the diesel industry back in those days remember what an accomplishment it was and how exhilarating it was to see an OBS Power Stroke out there holding it’s own. If you ever find yourself looking for some entertainment, check out the old Wide Open Performance youtube channel and look up those old 9-seocnd passes, or their rear engine quad turbo Power Stroke dragster, that’s blog post for another day.