Volume III, Issue 12, Page 9

Off-Season Homework

It's really hard to believe that it's already December! Where did 2008 go? Time flies when you're busy and/or having a good time. Since the racing season has been over we've been both. As a drag racing addict, I always miss the racing, of course, but it's good to spend time away from the track to work on projects that have been neglected. This year may not have been easy or particularly successful but at least the car was in good shape at the end of it, so apart from the usual jet helicopter maintenance program we are free to work on other things for a couple of months.

Literally the biggest thing that we wanted to work on in the off season is our 1970 Chrysler Town & Country project. This wagon has actually been very successful for us, going all the way to the semifinals at the 2007 Bracket Finals at Woodburn, Oregon, but we wanted it to go faster, much faster. After all the anal retentive aspects of prepping a car for NHRA Stock Eliminator competition it's a lot of fun to build one for general bracket racing. Bracket cars don't have to be "stock". They don't have to have dashboards, headliners, functioning headlights or windows that roll up and down. They just have to be safe. It's a liberating feeling. I know some stock racers that pooh-pooh bracket cars and bracket racing, but not us. We love it.

For safety, strength, and general race car aesthetics, a roll bar or roll cage is essential. By this time my partner, Mike Brenno, is a master at installing them. It's actually comparatively easy to do this to a giant station wagon. Mike was five minutes away from calling "911" one time when we rescued him from the back of his 1970 Dodge Challenger, hopelessly stuck in his newly installed roll bar.

We also install an extensive sub frame connector system, completely welding the bars to the floor of the car for maximum strength and stiffness. Power that goes into bending the car generally does not go to the ground, so it's very important to stiffen the chassis as much as possible. Another good way of stiffening the car is to improve the factory welds wherever possible. The factory wasn't really planning on hitting the chassis with 500+ horsepower, so you'll see that there's lots of room for improvement, once you start looking.

Since we want to go fast, we knew we were going to have to harness some power. To do this we would need to use all the lessons that we have learned over the years about putting big block Mopar torque to the ground in a heavy car. Racing in "Sportsman" class, the big wagon was already going through leaf springs, bending them into uselessness.

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