Competition Diesels

Mar 5, 2010

The National Association of Diesel Motorsports in Kansas City, Mo., offers diesel enthusiasts a forum to showcase the power of their diesel vehicles. We asked Ron Knoch of NADM ( for an update on his organization and the diesel market in general.

Please explain a little about the NADM-what it is and who participates.

NADM was started to give diesel enthusiasts a safe, insured facility and structured event in which to compete. Just like the old days of drag racing in the 1950s and ’60s, let’s take it off the public roads and give them a venue to perform in front of motorsports fans.

The other part of the business that not too many people hear about is the support services NADM offers to the sponsors to sell their products, and the diesel shops that need help in business. NADM provides marketing plans for sponsors’ products and, for the local diesel shop, discounts on business liability insurance, inventory and service coverage.

Just announced last year at SEMA was GE Money’s involvement with NADM. They are now offering local diesel businesses consumer financing programs for anything in their stores-including popular programs such as 0-percent interest for six months with a 1.9-percent charge to the local store with no future liability.

Last year NADM held 10 large national events and over 35 smaller affiliate events. NADM passes sponsors’ funds directly back into the sport by paying cash purses to competitors. The more they race and pull, the more the competitors break parts and want to upgrade to the next best performance replacement. It’s amazing to see these guys blow a tranny one weekend and show up the next, ready to compete with a new transmission.

The sport is addictive-where else can you buy a $10,000 used diesel truck, put $3,000 into performance parts and have a 400- to 600-hp truck that can compete in local pulls and races? Try doing that with a modern muscle car!

What’s the current state of the performance diesel market?

Things are looking up after a very rough year last year.

While many of the accessory and performance parts (sales) fell to the side, the maintenance side of the business boomed for many different shops. Now that the economy is picking back up, those service shops are seeing the performance side coming back, along with the strong maintenance business.

Money is still tight for many families, so people are not as willing to travel across states to come to an event like they used to in years past. That is why NADM decided to hold fewer but larger national events, strategically positioned around the country to attract nice crowds from local areas. We are also seeing a lot more younger people getting involved in the serious competition classes.

How is what you do tied to the street performance diesel market, and what can you learn from each other?

Taking the performance off of the street and into our events is what NADM is all about! Why risk getting tickets and in trouble on public streets when you can come to the events in front of large crowds and show everyone what you have accomplished in tuning your truck for competition.

NADM likes to bring new products to the masses by showing them off at the events in the vendor alley. Most of the sponsors have provided product displays, and since many of the competitors represent diesel shops, they usually find out about the products at our shows and then decide to sell them at their own shops.

What advice do you have for speed shops looking to serve the performance diesel market?

Come to the events and spend some time talking to the competitors in the pit area. Find out what they are looking for and how you can offer your expertise.

Take a look and study the NADM rulebook so you can be prepared to tell locals what their trucks will need to compete in racing or pulling. Most of our rules are based on SFI certification just like the NHRA, so many of the parts will work for diesels.

Some of the diesel-related parts are hard to find in certain areas where diesel competition is just now catching on, so be the first to have the parts for your area. Most parts can be found through the many different sponsors and manufacturers who attend the events. Also look on the Internet for custom parts.

There are many different experts at the manufacturers’ companies, and as a dealer you can get access to these guys that know quite a bit when dealing with diesel performance. Take the time to search them out and learn from what they have to tell you. Many shops are also now building their own custom parts for competition.