When she was 14 years old, Kelsie Epp fell in love with a truck.
Not just any truck, but specifically a 2003 Chevrolet Silverado 2500 Duramax.
The day her grandpa drove that truck off the lot in Dawson Creek had an unwavering affect on Epp, now 27, who is vying for a spot in the perennial competition in diesel truck racing, the Diesel Power Challenge (DPC).
The small town girl is now known as “Miss Max”, a homage to her love for all things diesel and yet she tumbled into the sport of racing trucks by pure accident.
“When I was 13, my grandpa bought a Duramax from the dealership and that was just after they’d first come out. I just fell in love with the truck and that black truck that I still have, I actually took my driver’s test with that when I turned 16 and bought it when I turned 18,” recalled Epp, a third class power engineer contractor in Dawson Creek.
“(I) was driving it back and forth to college. Just little issues that I had to take it to the shop for, and I met these people in Lloydminster where I went to college and they were huge into Duramax performance and they got me hooked. They brought me out to the track.
“Everything since then has been about diesel performance in my life.”
Her passion from that day forward fostered into a full-grown obsession, which led her to Northern Lights Raceway in Fort St. John with “Black Maxx,” as it’s become affectionately known, where she is able to top out at over 170 km/h and runs a 12.52-second time in the quarter mile.
Her obsession with diesel racing over the last seven years has grown so deep she purchased a new truck two years ago after getting everything she could out of her first love. Now, she owns one of the most recognizable trucks in the industry: a ’02 GMC Sierra 2500HD triple turbo Duramax that is one of 10 trucks looking to land a spot in the 2016 Diesel Power Challenge.
The challenge takes place in Denver, Colorado, every year and pits the performance of trucks against each other in several categories including drag racing, trailer towing, sled pulling, and maneuvering through an obstacle course with 10,000 pounds in tow—plus, all the events will be measured for fuel economy.
“I’ve been in the diesel motorsports industry for seven years now. For as long as I can remember, this has been the paramount diesel event. It’s basically the ultimate truck. It’s the best of the motorsports all together. That, to me, is the ultimate truck,” Epp said.
The Dawson Creek native said she’s built her new truck from the ground up with help from Supreme Diesel and DFC Diesel, and only the roll cage and discs of the original remain. She added that it’s built with the DPC in mind, as “6,000 feet above sea level wreaks a bit of havoc with turbo charged trucks,” she said. “The way I built the truck was specific. I knew that I was building it for this challenge.”
While she isn’t even in the DPC yet, Epp explained everything about the event like she’s already parked and ready to go in Denver.
“Oh my god, yes. Everyday, ” she said with a confident, full-on laugh when asked if she’s envisioned herself in the competition already.
“I’m a firm believer in what you see in your head comes true.”
That confidence doesn’t steam from thin air, as Epp recently returned to the Peace with a win at a dyno event in Denver.
“I just came back from a big road trip (three weeks ago). It ended up working out really well; we won the unlimited modification class at the dyno. And then Supreme Diesel, the owners flew down and put me in this gauntlet challenge. It’s a dyno competition as well but it’s the biggest names in the diesel industry. Like one of the trucks put down almost 2,000 horsepower,” Epp recalled.
“They threw me into this challenge and we ended up right in the middle of the pack … so, I was more than pleased and I was shaking and almost crying when I got off the dyno and it actually worked and everything worked out amazing. And then we got on another dyno and made over 1,300 (horsepower) on fuel outside, and that’s what won the unlimited class.”
With her newfound confidence in tow, Epp now needs votes from friends, family and anyone with a pulse to circle her name on the ballot for the contest that ends Friday, April 8. Head to http://www.trucktrend.com/features/1601-2016-diesel-power-challenge-voting/ to find out about voting.
As for Epp, she’s still getting used to her new found status in the truck world.
“Definitely not,” she said about if she’s used to getting used to the popularity. “And even I didn’t expect all the attention. Once I was there I didn’t expect to go everywhere and everyone in the industry to know who I am.”