Wichita Falls Man Builds Fastest Diesel-Powered Car

Speedy '94 Mustang averages 35 miles per gallon

As Mike Wood chose the green pump to fill up his '94 Mustang, a well-meaning stranger cried out a warning: "You're putting diesel in your car!"

Wood continued to pump the fuel, let out a chuckle and said, "I know."

His was not a typical Ford.

Wood owns Nitrous Express Inc., which produces high-performance car parts for customers around the globe.

It took him about a year and $50,000 to disassemble a working sports car just to put it back together -- with a few minor changes, of course.

Pulling the 20 or so hood pins means seeing a 2004 Chevrolet diesel pickup engine capable of 1,200 horsepower.

It is the fastest, diesel-powered, street-legal car in the world -- and it averages 35 miles per gallon.

"It was a challenge," Wood said. "I just wanted to prove I could do it."

In September, Wood drove his prized Mustang to Hot Rod Drag Week in Bowling Green, Ky.

His timing was cut pretty close. He got the car running on a Wednesday and left for the race the following Saturday.

"There was nothing but a shell when I started," Wood said. "Now I think it's a pretty dependable ride."

The drag competition involves driving a street legal car about 1,500 miles and racing at four different tracks over the course of five days with no outside support. The quickest, average elapsed time in quarter-mile drag racing wins.

When Wood pulled up in his one-of-a-kind ride, the judges didn't know what class to put him in.

"They didn't know what to do with me," he said. "I wanted to go ahead and race in the gas class, but they said I wouldn't have a chance to win."

Wood entered the Diesel Class, competed against four trucks and won with an elapsed time of 9.91 seconds at 142.91 mph.

His average quarter-mile time beat the cars in the gas class, too.

"I was so far ahead in my class, I almost could have missed a day," Wood said. "The car was a ton of fun to drive. I achieved my goal."

The $250 entry fee was a small price to pay for the glory that followed his win. His car will be featured in both Hot Rod and Diesel Power magazines, showcasing his business and abilities, not to mention the bragging rights he earned for taking the top prize in a category typically meant for trucks.

"I can go to any service station and get more than double the horsepower that a regular gas-powered engine will," Wood said. "A diesel has high performance."

Not only can the car achieve 1,200 horse power, but it has 2,000 foot-pounds of torque and weighs 3,475 pounds with a driver. It raced with street legal tires and a Chevy four-speed transmission.

Though Wood accomplished his goal just in time for the big race, he's not quite finished working on the dark horse.

"By drag week next year, I'll be scaring them to death," he said. "Nobody wants to get beat, but I've got a reputation to cover."

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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