There’s something inexplicably stimulating about powerful engines, whether they be steam locomotives, bulldozers or heavy-duty trucks. I can still hear in my head those ’60s commercials for funny car drag racing in Englishtown, N.J…”Sunday! At Raceway Park!!!!”
I find it fascinating how the diesel pickup truck sector has erupted to become one of the most exciting places to be over the past 10-15 years. One contributing factor might be the magazines that have emerged to stoke this passion for power. One such mag is Diesel World, a publication dedicated to the diesel-pickup enthusiast. In May the magazine inaugurated a high-profile competition for diesels called the Ultimate Callout Challenge, of which AMSOIL became the official oil. We tracked down editor-in-chief Adam Blattenberg to get his take on this vibrant scene.
AMSOIL: Where did you grow up and where do you live now?
Adam Blattenberg: I grew up in Laguna Hills, Calif., and currently live in Huntington Beach, Calif.
AMSOIL: You are currently editor-in-chief of a leading diesel magazine. How did that come about? Which was your first passion, diesels or journalism?
AB: Diesel was and is my first passion for sure. Funny thing, I never thought I’d be a magazine editor. Never even considered it. My plan as a kid was to eventually open up my own custom truck shop. I started my automotive career as a wrench at a “Ma and Pa” type custom truck shop in Mission Viejo, Calif. Worked there for six years and then moved to a Dodge dealership. When the economy took a hit around 2008, work at the dealership slowed substantially, so I decided it was the perfect time to go back to school, which I did before returning to work at the old truck shop between classes. The truck shop had been doing articles with the editor of RV Magazine for a while, so when I came back I sort of took that over and helped the editor as much as I possibly could. In the beginning I was simply a technical adviser, but eventually I started writing for the book. Again, something I never thought I’d be – a writer.
A couple years later the editor had moved on from RV Magazine and the publisher offered me the job a couple weeks later. Of course I took it. Being a mechanic my whole life and then going straight into a head magazine editor position was a trip for me, to say the least. I had to learn quickly. While at RV I really kept everything I personally wrote – diesel/heavy-truck related – and contracted out the rest. Diesel was simply what I knew best and enjoyed writing about. Sadly, in 2014, RV Magazine ceased to exist and that marked the end of magazine life for me, or so I thought. At that time my full-time job was in sales for PPE Diesel with RV Magazine done on nights and weekends. A few months after RV was canceled I got a call from our (PPE’s) advertising rep at Diesel World. He asked me if I would be interested in doing magazines again. Of course I jumped at the opportunity. After a year of freelance magazine work they brought me in full-time as the Editor in Chief of Diesel World Magazine. It’s been a great ride so far!
AMSOIL: What is it that makes diesel trucks so compelling to your readers? I mean, to a lot of people it’s “just a pickup truck.”
AB: The reason people are so into diesel is different for everyone. For me it was diesel boats that kicked it off. I grew up around them and the smell still reminds me of some of the best parts of my childhood. When the diesel performance boom hit us around 2001 I got bit by the diesel bug again after modifying a few at work. From that point there was no turning back. I’m sure for many it was their Dad’s diesel pickup he had as a kid that got them into it. But whatever it is that sparked the obsession, the smell, the sound and the stump-pulling power they produce, plus their ease of modification makes them pretty hard for any gearhead to resist. When you think about it, today’s diesels are creating the same buzz as 1990s import tuners and the 1960-70s era muscle cars. There’s just so much you can do to them. They are today’s tuner vehicles in my mind.
AMSOIL: How long has Diesel World been around and how did it come about?
AB: This year marks the 11th for Diesel World. I’m its fourth editor, so I can’t really say for sure how it started. But when GM introduced the Duramax in 2001 that marked the beginning of the diesel performance boom we’re currently in. I’d have to assume the previous publishers saw that trend growing and decided to take advantage of it.
AMSOIL: Do you wish you had more time to write for yourself? What would you write about if you had time?
AB: I’m just a car guy that happens to have a job that requires that I write a bit. Not saying I don’t enjoy it – I do. But I’d rather be playing with diesels than writing, that’s for sure.
AMSOIL: How did the Ultimate Callout Challenge go down this year? What did you learn that will make it better next year in Indy?
AB: Ultimate Callout Challenge 2016 was amazing. Seriously, even though I’m a bit biased, it was the greatest diesel event I’ve been to yet. I just wish I didn’t have to work it! The amount of power we saw there was something that was never seen in one place before. If you’ve ever been to a diesel drag race, sled pull or dyno event you know that there’s always that one truck you want to see run and when it’s ready to go everyone rushes to see it. We had 26 of those trucks there, each hand-picked from all over the U.S. and Canada. I was excited to see every single one run. Since they’re all pushing their trucks to the extreme edge of what is possible there was a very real chance each one would blow up. And a few did in really epic ways. I can’t wait for the next one. I can’t say much about 2017’s event yet, but it will be even more epic than this year’s UCC, that’s for sure. All the info for 2017’s UCC will be released soon.
AMSOIL: Married? Kids? Does your family share your passions?
AB: Single, no kids, one dog. Just about every guy in my family has a mechanical passion of some sort, on both sides. But we’re all slightly different in what we like. Dad likes vintage cars, concourse-type stuff. He’s restored multiple 100-point cars over the last few decades and has recently gotten into Corvettes. His dad used to race British cars and my mom’s dad was a shop teacher for years. Mom’s brother was also a machinist. Actually, I learned a skill I’m pretty proud of from my uncle. He taught me how to hand-sharpen drill bits. Not something many know how to do anymore. So it definitely runs in the family, but I’m really the only diesel head in the family.
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Diesel enthusiasts can learn more about AMSOIL products for diesel equipment at www.amsoil.com/diesel.