This has been one interesting thread to read. First, let me say I don't yet own a Ranger, though my son had an '89 2.9 2wd supercab long box that could get stuck on a wet driveway. I am, however, still shopping for a small pickup, and so far, the Ranger seems like the best available.
I have an '02 Dodge 2500HO CTD, 6 speed manual, 4x4, short box, quad cab. The only performance mod so far is a BHAF (big honking air filter). I get 16-20 mpg empty (depending on wind, hills, and stupid right foot), but with diesel running $3.25-3.50 per gallon, it doesn't make sense for my 40 mile/day commute ($80+ for a fill...ouch!).
I bought an 02 PT Cruiser for commuting, but I am a truck guy, so I'm shopping. I get 26-30 mpg depending on winter or summer fuel with the PTC, so I'd like a truck that gets close to 25 mpg (wife sort of demands that). That probably means 4 banger 2wd
, but hey, it's still a truck.
Anyway, back to the topic of this post. I find it entertaining to read about racing trucks. I have seen it done. In fact I watched a 2005 Dodge CTD automatic win a bracket racing event. It was like watching a snail. He got about a half track lead. The reason he won though was he consistently hit his dial-in...every run! I don't think his runs varied by a tenth, which is really a trick when you are making 16+ second passes.
Gearing probably makes more difference than turbo lag. My Dodge winds up quickly in 2nd and 3rd (only use first when towing), but really wakes up in 4-5-6 gears. I don't know about Rangers, but I know a lot of kids in big-mufflered ricers wonder why they can't keep up with a big blue Dodge once I hit 4th gear.
That being said, trucks are for hauling/towing, not racing. My Dodge weighs 7000 empty...about twice what your Rangers weigh. As such, I would expect the lighter truck would leave faster, or should. On the other hand, if we were to hook a chain between my stock Dodge and your Ranger (with any mods you like) I would easily drag you all over town with your tires screaming and smoking until your little truck broke. Or hook both trucks to 10000 pound loads and let's drag race.
I'm not trying to insult anyone. As I said, from the research I have done, I think the Ranger is the best small pickup available. When used for their intended purpose, I don't think either the Ranger or the Dodge/Cummins can be beat.