I wanted to test this functionality too, since I had never even shifted this car with the new shifter and transmission in a parking lot let alone at full speed on track. And when the shift light did not come on at the right time in the parking lot, my frustration began to grow. I had resigned myself a dozen different times to changes in the plan but I had reached a boiling point now. After a while we decided that the rev limiter would be enough to protect the car if the light function didn’t work properly on the first try. I had been warned that the 1-2 shift would come quick and to be ready. Thankfully the light worked, and sure enough, that first shift did come fast. But we played it very safe with the RPM and I shifted with plenty of RPM to spare. So that was that, I finally had my shifting experience, and it was in my own car after all.

The day was finally shaping up after the 3rd pass of the day. We ran a best ever ET in the car, and we were actually short shifting by over 500 RPM so I know there is more left on the table. It was right before first round though that everything went to the wayside. Our belt cutting problem returned with a vengeance, and on the fourth lap of the night the belt broke completely in half after launch. This has been a recurring problem of ours and this time, the shock of the belt breaking actually broke off sections of two ribs on our power steering pulley. And of course, this is a difficult to acquire part and can only be purchased from a Dodge dealer. Needless to say, we didn’t make round one and the weekend was over. The disappointment was hard to ignore. We were looking so forward to getting acquainted with the car’s new characteristics and how it reacts to weather, changes in launch and top end behavior. Last month I mentioned that during a project as complicated and long term as this one, you have to expect things to not go to plan. I thought I was doing that pretty well up to this point, and yet this fly in the ointment still surprised me. But with every change of direction and correction, my will and dedication to make it right only became stronger. The disappointment of not having recent competition before the big race only made my determination to get the car ready even more potent.

Now, as I sit here, we are on the verge of deeming the car ready for the track. Thankfully there is dyno nearby for our tuner Matt from Arrington to be available via phone to send updated tunes, and the shifter should be functioning properly soon as well. If all goes well, we should be ready to go for the test laps on Friday morning. And as far as pressure goes, this race kind takes the cake. Being the Arrington “spokescar” for the weekend, and doing it in front of the CEO of the company makes for a bit of added pressure to do well and represent in the best way possible. At the end of the day though, it’s just like any other race weekend where being one of the final two cars and taking the title in a class is the goal. I can’t wait to get this MoParty started, so I hope see you at the track!

I have to reserve some space here to give some overdue shout outs. First off, the amazing Arrington Performance crew for making this whole crazy project even possible. The Magnum took up space in their shop for over two months, and without all the work they did, some of it late on a Friday night, we wouldn’t be racing the car we have today. The folks at the Driveshaft Shop were super expedient in getting our rebuilt axles and driveshaft back to us in time to test last weekend, and we were extremely grateful for their ability to do a quick turnaround. Then of course, was the time constraint that we inadvertently put on RPM Rollbars, in Portland, Oregon. Having left Arrington a few days late, we forced them to get the new 8.5 cert cage done in much less time than they consider normal, and thanks to their hard work, it was done on time. After leaving RPM we needed to make a whirlwind trip back down south to our transmission partners, Westminster Performance Transmission to put some finishing touches on our transmission and torque converter while we installed our rear end, axles and driveshaft. Thanks to them for making time for us during an incredibly busy week. Last and most recently, I want to say thank you to Drew at ZPE, Inc. for sending us a modified pulley with almost no notice. You’ll be hearing more about them and their micro-groove process on our supercharger pulley in a later issue. Again, without the incredible work of all of these car loving people, we wouldn’t be here today. So thank you!

[Ed. Note: as this goes to ‘press’ Alex learned that her shift controller will not work due to some compatibility issues between the various electronic pieces. So Alex will soldier forth for the weekend manually shifting her car on all of her passes. We have every confidence that she will do a great job.]