Diesel Racer Johnny Gilbert Talks Racing and FUELAB

Johnny Gilbert - FUELAB Brushless Diesel Lift Pumps Johnny Gilbert - FUELAB High Performance Diesel Lift Pumps for Drag Racing Johnny Gilbert

FUELAB sponsored diesel drag racer Johnny Gilbert spent time with us discussing his drag racing career, and experience with FUELAB.

Q: When did you start racing?
A: In about 1985, I was fifteen years old. I’ve been hooked ever since.

Q: What got you into racing?
A: My old man (dad) got me into it. He raced 1955 and 1957 Chevy’s in Kentucky at Clay City Dragway. That’s where I did my first run.

Q: What was the first car you raced?
A: It was a 1970 Chevelle with a 400 small block bored .30 over to a 406. It ran 12.70 to 12.80 in the ¼ mile.

Q: What were some of the other cars you have raced and when?
A: I was hooked on Chevy’s. When I turned 18 I got a 1971 Chevelle SS 402 with a TH400 transmission. I started racing it at Osceola, Indiana. The car has seen ten different variations of engines and transmissions installed over the years. My best run was a 10.13 when I was bracket racing in the IHRA. I still have the car, and it runs a 10.29. About 12 years ago I was racing the Chevelle at an event and the rear end broke, so I made some runs in the 2001 Ram 2500 4×4 diesel pickup I was using to tow the Chevelle. My friends were all laughing, but I did alright. About seven or eight years ago I started getting serious about racing the truck, and at that time I got it into the high 11’s.

Q: What have been your major racing successes over the past 5 years?
A: In 2014 I was points champion in the NADM Unlimited Diesel Class, and won the Unlimited Diesel class. Last year in the ODRS I missed half the season with a broken crank, but still ended up 6th in points overall. We won the Scheid Diesel Extravaganza five years in a row, and in 2013 I won in two classes over the weekend; in the Heads Up Pro Truck class I ran a 6.70 in the 1/8th mile, and a 7.70 in Quick Diesel. This year we are running Pro Street class with a lightened up chassis in the ODRS. The truck is now running a triple turbo set up. So far my personal best is a 5.7 second 1/8th mile at 128 MPH. There are a few guys that are a little quicker.

Q: What do you like most about racing?
A: What really sticks out is the comradery – seeing old friends at events. I also like the competition. I’ve always been competitive.

Q: Is your family involved in your racing efforts?
A: Yes, my wife does photography and keeps tabs on other racers. Sometimes she helps work on the truck.

Q: How long have you used FUELAB?
A: I first started running FUELAB on my tow vehicle about two to three years ago and was very happy with it. Last year I saw racers running FUELAB that were doing very well, and that got my attention. Then I met Josh Davis, from FUELAB, at a race. He was very knowledgeable and I learned a lot about the company’s technology. I was so impressed I installed FUELAB on my race truck.

Q: Why did you start using FUELAB?
A: Everything is excellent quality, with great attention to detail, and it lasts a long time. Plus it is made in the USA, and that is a big deal to me.

Q: Was there a particular problem you were having that FUELAB solved?
A: The FASS fuel system we had before was fine, but couldn’t handle the 2200-2500 horsepower level we are shooting for. We wanted to get the best fuel delivery system possible so we went with FUELAB. Their top-notch high quality can’t be beat.

Q: How has FUELAB affected your racing success?
A: The performance consistency is great. Our data logger shows the same fuel pressure all the way through a run. It loses zero pounds of pressure – it’s cool to watch! We’ll be slowly turning up the power during the season, and we are sure the FUELAB pumps will be able to handle it.

Q: What FUELAB parts do you use?
A: We run two Velocity Series 200 GPH Lift Pumps, each can handle 1,500 HP. We also have two FUELAB 42402 regulators, and FUELAB fuel pre-filters.

Q: What do you see as the primary benefits of FUELAB products and company?
A: I think FUELAB is awesome. The tech reps will take the time to get your questions answered right away. Even after hours. They’re really professional, really sharp, and willing to go the extra mile.

Q: Where do you see diesel racing in 5 years?
A: I’d like to see the diesel class move into the four second range, and there to be an increased truck count.

Q: What do you do in your spare time?
A: I live, eat and sleep racing. Otherwise I like to do things with the family – like take the kids to the beach.


FUELAB Event Schedule 2016

FUELAB will be displaying at these events in 2016. If you are there please stop by – it would be great to meet you!


Drag Start


8th Annual NMRA NMCA All-Star Nationals – Atlanta Dragway – Commerce, GA  – April 7th-10th, 2016

15th Annual NMCA Blue Grass Nationals – Beech Bend Raceway Park – Bowling Green, KY – May 12th-16th, 2016

11th Annual NMRA NMCA Super Bowl of Street Legal Drag Racing – Route 66 Raceway – Joliet, IL – July 28th-31st, 2016

15th Annual NMCA World Street Finals – Summit Motorsports Park – Norwalk, OH – August 25th-28th, 2016


NDS Show – Kearney Raceway Park – Kearney, NE – April 22nd,23rd, and 24th, 2016

Haisley Thunder in Muncie – Muncie Dragway – Muncie, IN – June 17th, 2016

East Coast Diesel Nationals – Numidia Dragway – Numidia, PA – July 16th, 2016

U.S. Diesel Nationals

40th Annual U.S. Diesel Truckin’ Nationals – Raceway Park – Englishtown, NJ – September 17th, 2016



SEMA Show – Las Vegas Convention Center – Las Vegas, NV – Nov 1st – 4th, 2016

PRI – Indiana Convention Center – Indianapolis, IN – December 8th – 10th, 2016

Jeff Dean tells us his drag racing story – from wheezy Chevy Citation beginnings to NADM Top Dragster Champ

Jeff Dean 4Jeff Dean 1Jeff Dean 2










Q: When did you start racing?
A: In 1982, I was 16.

Q: What got you into racing?
A: I raced motorcycles long before I raced cars. I learned a lot about working on them and preparing them to race. I also like working on cars and motors, and the challenge of making something go fast. So, that was a lead in to racing cars.

Q: What was the first car you raced?
A: A Chevy Citation of all things! It was a stock yellow 4-door with a 4-cylinder and automatic transmission. When I was a teenager the local radio station had a big drag racing event at a local track, and it was open to the public. Every young kid had to go – it was the thing to do. Me and four buddies went, and we ran the races with all of us in the car. We actually did pretty well and ended up as one of the top four cars from over seven hundred entries. It was a long day! Our best quarter mile time was 18.8 seconds – after one of my friends got out of the car.

Q: What were some of the other cars or trucks you have raced?
A: I built a ’74 Nova. It was all low dollar stuff. I used a Chevy 327 block and modified it to use a Chevy small block 400 crank to build a 421 cubic inch small block engine. In May 1992 a couple of good friends and I pooled some money together to race it in the Hot Rod Magazine Fastest Street Car in America event in Memphis, TN. It was all heads up racing, a big grudge match deal, and we won it. Then I started racing diesel (pickup) trucks in 2006. While I was still racing cars I had noticed people were driving their modified diesel trucks to the track. Some were even using them to pull trailers to the track. Then they would race those same trucks. I thought that was really interesting. So, I started racing a 2006 Duramax in sled pulls and drag racing. In 2008 I was invited to enter the truck in the Diesel Power Magazine – Diesel Power Challenge, in Salt Lake City, UT which was an event that combined drag racing, a 10,000 lb. trailer pull, a fuel economy run, and a dyno competition. Then in 2011 I started racing the dragster with the Duramax engine.

Q: What associations have you raced in?
A: (With diesel powered) The Outlaw Circuit, and the NHRDA.

Q: What have been your major racing successes over the past 5 years?
A: In 2009 I set the Super Street record at Indy with a 10.61 second quarter mile. I would have won the World Record, but due to the technicality that my truck was 5 lbs. too light, I was bounced. A neat one to me was in 2011 at Bowling Green. It was the first time out with the Duramax dragster. I ran with the big guys and won. My time was around 8.10 at that event. In 2013 I won Top Diesel at Indy, and in 2012 and 2013 I won NADM Top Dragster.

Q: What do you like most about racing?
A: I like seeing friends you don’t get to see too often. I also like the challenge of trying to win with less, and the challenge of trying to out think and out drive competitors. Sometimes the fastest guy doesn’t always win.

Q: Is your family involved in your racing efforts?
A: Yes, normally they go. We have a motorhome – they like the camping and cooking out and seeing people.

Q: How long have you used Fuelab?
A: I started using it on the race truck in 2009 or 2010

Q: Why did you start using Fuelab?
A: We needed something reliable. I have a shop, On-Track Auto and Diesel Performance, and we do a lot of diesel work. We found through experience that other high performance diesel fuel pumps aren’t reliable.  They would often fail within a year or a year and a half. We tried Fuelab and they have had no problems – on my vehicles or customers’ trucks.

Q: Was there a particular problem you were having that Fuelab solved?
A: Pump failure – we were having problems with other fuel pump brands being problem prone. The Fuelab pumps haven’t failed.

Q: How has Fuelab affected your racing success?
A: I don’t have to worry about fuel pump failure. With one less thing to worry about, I can concentrate more on winning.

Q: What Fuelab parts do you use?
A: I have a Fuelab in-line fuel pump, and a Fuelab return style regulator.

Q: What do you see as the primary benefits of Fuelab products and company?
A: Fuelab fuel pumps are reliable. I think they are all around better and quieter other brands. I like Fuelab’s quality and tech support. They give me straight answers. For example, at one race I was convinced the fuel pump had failed. The Fuelab tech told me to check the filters – they pointed me right to the problem. It turned out the fuel cell had come apart and blocked the filter.

Q: Where do you see yourself in racing in 5 years?
A: I see myself staying in diesel. They have good power, are reliable, and are up and coming in racing. Plus it works well for promoting my diesel service business.

Q: What do you do in your spare time?
A: Camping with family, boating on the lake, and taking our four wheelers to go play in the woods.