Competitors in the True Street Challenge had special reserved parking at the show entrance
The first step in our challenge was to fill all the cars with pump fuel before driving the
I rode shotgun in each car during the driving portion of the competition to evaluate the r
If you haven't followed the True Street Challenge that we host at the annual Mopars at the Strip show in Las Vegas, let us get you up to speed. The basis of this challenge is easy: take eight cool Mopars, fill them with pump fuel, drive them on the street under the hot desert sun, then run them down the racetrack to get some timeslips. We like to think of it as a real world test of cars that are built to be driven in the real world. The cars are judged not only on their appearance, but on their functionality, streetability, and performance as well. Points are awarded in each category, and the car that accumulates the highest combined score will ultimately win the True Street Challenge.
Don't be fooled by other competitions of so-called "street cars" that pit questionably street legal race machines against each other at the drag strip, allowing racing slicks, large doses of nitrous oxide and race fuel. While we do appreciate the fun that a converted full tube chassis race car can offer on the street, the practicality of such a car really makes it unreasonable to classify it as a street car. Our contest is geared more toward cars that are driven on a regular basis, cars that can carry four people out to dinner in relative comfort as well as smoke the kid in his Mustang from a stop light along the way. The cars must wear DOT-approved rubber and run on no higher than 93-octane pump fuel without overheating. The street driving part of the contest is not just a jaunt down a county road; it's a grueling 22-mile drive through a combination of back roads, interstate, and stop lights in the hot desert sun, which tests each car's street manners as well as their cooling systems.
Each year since we started the True Street Challenge we get an ever-increasing number of applications. This year was no exception, and it was hard for us to pick just eight competitors. If you sent in an application and weren't picked, don't be discouraged, next year may be your year. This year we tried to again show a variety of cars in our challenge with early and late-model A-, B-, E-, and even a C-Body. Big-blocks and automatics were the norm this year, although we did have one Hemi four-speed competitor in the challenge, as well as one car powered by a Slant Six. Unfortunately, only seven of the eight competitors were able to make the challenge this year because the eighth suffered engine damage just days before the show that couldn't be repaired in time. Our other seven competitors not only made the competition, but survived to be driven home as well. These cars were good looking, fun to drive, and quick (one entrant even dipped into the tens).
Judging was close-only one point separated first and second place and the entire field was within twelve points of each other. Mark Bastemeyer took top honors this year with his immaculate '64 Fury, but we would be happy to have any of these cars parked in our garage. The competition was fun and friendly, and everyone had a great time running their cars down the quarter-mile.
Follow along as we look at each car in-depth and find out what it takes to compete in the True Street Challenge.
This '64 Fury sees plenty of road time, but Mark isn't afraid to use the car for what Chry
Fast and Furious
Top honors in this year's True Street Challenge go to Mark Bastemeyer's '64 Max Wedge Plymouth Fury. This car is one of the cleanest we've seen and drove as good as it looked. Mark is a die-hard Mopar enthusiast and competed in last year's challenge in his '69 Six Pack Road Runner. The '64 Plymouth Fury Mark entered in this year's event is a culmination of an 18-month restoration. Believe it or not, Mark found the car at a local used car lot in a state of severe disrepair and neglect. Soon after purchasing the car, the body was taken down to metal and completely refurbished prior to having multiple coats of distinct Viper red applied. Knowing that he'd be driving and racing the car as much as showing it, Mark opted to set aside the original 426 and drop in a 499ci Wedge topped with Mopar Stage III cylinder heads. JE pistons were used to attain a final compression ratio of 10:1. The factory cross-ram manifold was retained and topped with two Edelbrock 800-cfm four-barrels. The TorqueFlite automatic was rebuilt, and a TCI 10-inch converter was installed to handle the launches. Out back, the standard 8-3/4 rear sports a Detroit Locker differential and sits on new Super Stock leaf springs. The front suspension was powdercoated and rebuilt with new urethane bushings. Shocks are QA1 adjustable units on all four corners. Four-wheel disc brakes ensure short stopping distances, and the Cragar S/S wheels give the car a period-correct look.
Mark Bastemeyer's restored '64 Max Wedge Fury was just as at home on the interstate as it
The engine bay is a combination of nostalgia and modern performance goodies. Mark didn't w
The interior of this Fury was as clean and functional as the rest of the car; even the fac
At first glance the Fury's interior appears to be spartan, but don't be fooled. All the factory instruments and accommodations were restored to perfect working order, but Mark didn't stop there. Modern comforts such as electric exhaust cutouts and XM satellite radio are carefully hidden among the factory components. Wanting to keep the nostalgia theme, Mark found period-correct gauges and an old-school Sun tachometer with a sweep needle. This car is definitely a nice blend of old and new technology and is a great cruiser attracting lots of attention with its red-on-red paint and interior scheme. Turning heads, cruising the highways, and running in the 11s is what our true street challenge is all about.
Being able to run in the 10s with 3.23 gears and street radials is a pretty amazing feat f
A Perfect 10
Placing a close second in this year's challenge is Alex Baker's '70 Dodge Challenger. Alex found this Challenger in rough shape at the 2000 Spring Fling show, and actually passed it by twice before his wife convinced him to buy it. The Slant Six-equipped Challenger was complete, but suffered some pretty severe rust around the rear window and trunk. Alex initially opted to replace the engine and transmission with units from a Dart he already had, getting his project on the road in primer. About a year later, he struck a deal with a friend who completed the body work and applied the Plum Crazy paint job. Though looking like a stock 318 or 383 car, this potent machine blasted a 10.96 in the quarter-mile at over 125 mph to set the low elapsed time in our challenge. To achieve this goal Alex utilized big-block power and a "small shot" of nitrous oxide. A .060 over 440 with a 4-inch stroke and a semi-pump gas friendly 11:1 compression ratio, combined with box stock Edelbrock heads, makes this a reliable, potent combination. Stating that street manners were important, Alex installed a relatively mild cam in this engine and combined it with a reworked TorqueFlite, 11-inch converter, and 3.23 gears, which allows his Challenger to see many miles of comfortable street use. Hooker headers and Magnaflow mufflers give the car a throaty, but subtle, exhaust note. The idle is amazingly smooth for a car with a ten-second potential, which adds to the elusiveness of this combination.
With its flat hood and factory appearance, Alex Baker's '70 Dodge Challenger is a wolf in
Tucked neatly under the factory flat hood is this potent big-block. Edelbrock heads, 482 c
Though it began life as a six-cylinder car, Alex transformed this Challenger into a very c
When it came time to refurbish the interior of his Challenger, Alex opted for a stock look. The factory bucket seats were recovered, and a new carpet and headliner were installed. Rather than clutter the instrument panel with aftermarket gauges, Alex chose to spend his time getting the factory units working properly. Building the car as a stock-appearing "sleeper" has made the car even more fun for Alex and his wife. Countless stoplight opponents have been surprised when this stock-appearing car shows them its taillights. At car shows he is frequently asked whether the car is a 318 or 383; his answer of "meet me at the track" only keeps them guessing.
Six Pack To Go
Jeff Sheinost took third place in this year's challenge with his beautiful, F-8 green, Six Pack Road Runner. With its unique green-on-green color combination, Jeff's Road Runner turns as many heads on the street as it does at the track. Jeff found the car in Denver, Colorado, sitting behind a garage and purchased it from its sixth owner. The car was pretty rough since all the previous owners had raced it, but it was complete and still had the numbers-matching 440. After owning the car for 13 years, Jeff decided when it was time for a restoration that he wanted a stock look, but better-than-stock performance. Externally the car was pretty rough, needing quarters and trunk floors welded in place before it was straightened and coated with fresh paint. The original lift-off hood was retained and coated in matte black. The factory Dana 60 rear still sports its 4.10 Sure Grip, and the TorqueFlite was freshened using Turbo Action internals. A Coan 10-1/2-inch, 2,800-rpm converter helps transfer the torque to the 60 series drag radials out back. Up front, this Road Runner is all business. Knowing the rarity of this bird, but desiring to beat on it nonetheless, Jeff removed the original engine, setting it aside for future use. In its place is a 499-inch stroker big-block sporting Ross flat-top pistons, Eagle rods, and a Comp .524 lift hydraulic cam. The combination is topped with CNC-ported Edelbrock cylinder heads and Crane 1.5-ratio aluminum roller rockers. As his best pass of 11.78 seconds indicates, this car is all business.
This beautiful 69-1/2 Road Runner belongs to our favorite competitor-Jeff Scheinost. You s
Hidden under the factory lift-off hood is 499 inches of Six Pack topped big-block. Knowing
Jeff's Road Runner launched hard and ran well, clocking a best time of 11.78 seconds in th
Road Runners are known for bare-bone interiors, and Jeff's is no exception. Still sporting the original column shifter and bench seat, this car is all business. Fortunately, most of this car's interior was intact and in decent shape when he purchased it, which saved him the time and expense of obtaining hard-to-find parts. Jeff restored the interior himself, utilizing Legendary seat covers and carpet to bring the bird's green interior up to standard with the stunning exterior.
Seeing Norm's '68 Road Runner going down the strip was like a trip back in time. We can on
In 1968, the Plymouth Road Runner was introduced and took the musclecar market by storm. These cars were lightweight, bare bones, and economically priced machines with great power from the factory. By adding a few hundred bucks to the purchase price, the Road Runner could be had with the potent 426 Hemi engine, making the combination virtually unbeatable at the track. When Norm Barringer decided to restore his Hemi Road Runner, he wanted a combination of show and go. Staying with the factory look was important, but Norm also wanted his car to stand out, so brilliant Viper blue paint was applied. The engine in Norm's Plymouth was rebuilt to factory standards and mated to the original A-833 crash box. Out back, highway friendly 3.54 gears transfer the power to the period-correct Keystone classic wheels and street tires. Driving such a beast on the track can be difficult, and traction was limited by the small tires out back, but Norm still managed some respectable 14-second e.t.'s in the quarter-mile.
The first year for the Plymouth Road Runner was 1968, and Norm Barringer's is a beautiful
Nothing looks better than a dual-quad Hemi under the hood of an extremely nice '68 Road Ru
When restoring the interior of his car, Norm chose to stay with the spartan look that the
A bench seat and a four-speed shifter is the way most Road Runners came, and this car is no exception. The factory inland-style shifter can create a problem when attempting full bore runs down the quarter-mile, but Norm rowed through the gears with ease, netting mid-14-second timeslips. The only add-ons in this Road Runner's interior were aftermarket gauges to keep track of the vital signs.
A well-prepped track will find a car's weak link, and in David Fornero's case that weak li
Who says street performance cars must be V-8 powered? Not David Fornero, that's for sure. His '63 Dodge Dart impressed us with its handling and ride quality, and even more impressive is the fact that he drives this car daily. This car is definitely a well-rounded package that combines good factory components with subtle aftermarket upgrades to net a nimble, fun driver that finished in fifth place. Many of the upgrades to this Dart are from newer Mopars, such as the late-model A-Body front discs and rear drums. The front bucket seats are from an '86 Shelby and fit the style of the interior well. David did much of the restoration himself using donor cars and scrap yards to find the things he needed to bring the Dart to its current state. Parts that he couldn't find in reasonable shape, such as the center sun visor bracket, he made himself. Knowing that a Slant Six can be an economical and powerful alternative to a V-8 conversion, David chose to build a 225 for his Dart. The block was decked, bored .040 inch oversize, and fitted with flat-top pistons. The stock cylinder head was milled .090 inch to increase compression, ported, and fitted with oversize valves and new springs. A Comp .435 lift solid cam was chosen to actuate the valves through stock rockers. A Clifford aluminum intake and Edelbrock 500-cfm four-barrel handle the fuel mixing duties, while a Clifford header helps the gasses exit the motor. The automatic transmission was rebuilt and fitted with a 2,500 rpm converter. Out back, a 7-1/4 rearend sports 3.23 gears for quiet highway driving.
David Fornero's '63 Dart is old school cool. With Slant Six power and aftermarket air cond
The Slant Six is often overlooked as a performance engine, but many people have proven tha
Shelby seats and aftermarket air make riding in this Dart a comfortable and enjoyable expe
When it was time to restore the interior in his Dart, David knew it needed to be comfortable and functional. This car is David's daily driver so it needed some upgrades, such as bucket seats from an '86 Shelby car and aftermarket air conditioning. An oil pressure gauge and Sun tachometer monitor the vital signs, and an aftermarket sound system was installed. The seats are all covered in dark grey vinyl and coordinate nicely with the car's black exterior. Unfortunately, a slipping transmission limited the performance of this car; quarter-mile times were in the 20-second range. Since the Vegas show, David has installed new clutches and a new converter vowing to impress us with better elapsed times next year.
Unfortunately, David's 'Cuda suffered a broken driveshaft, which limited his quarter-mile
Pretty in Pink
We love it when we meet guys that are really passionate about their cars, and David Barelle is just that kind of guy. Having owned this 71 'Cuda since it was almost new, he has grown quite fond of it, even naming it "Laura." We can't say that we blame him for liking his car so much since it has outlasted a couple of wives! Enjoying these cars is what the hobby is all about, and no one enjoys his car more than David. When we asked what he uses his car for, his reply was the following: "Burning the tires, driving my kids around, more tire burning, showing off, racing, burning tires, show it (burning tires), burning the tires, then racing it more, and then more tire burning. Is that not what one does? Did I mention I burn the tires?" We get the idea that David enjoys beating on his cars as they were intended to be beat on. Giving his 'Cuda the ability to "burn the tires" is a 440 Six Pack engine with 906 heads and a .545 lift Crane hydraulic flat-tappet cam. The transmission is a rebuilt TorqueFlite with a TCI 3,500-rpm converter. Headers and Flowmaster exhaust help dispose of spent gasses, and a 4.10 Sure Grip helps transfer the torque to the pavement. We commend David on his willingness to drive his car regularly, and he definitely won points with us for letting us drive the car during the road test portion of the challenge-this is one nice ride! Unfortunately for Dave, a broken driveshaft was the price he paid for beating on his car. This incident netted him a 13.70 on the track, which is a number he certainly could have improved on had he been able to make more passes. Nonetheless, David and "Laura" tied for a sixth place finish in the True Street Challenge.
David Barelle is definitely into pink as indicated by the decal on his windshield. He has
Though a clone, this '71 'Cuda has the look, feel, and power of an original Six Pack car.
Did we mention that David has a thing for pink? If the FM-3 paint scheme doesn't attract y
David performed much of the restoration work himself including the interior. Legendary seat covers and carpet were installed, and the factory gauges were refurbished and brought back to working order. The black interior is a striking contrast to the pink exterior and really makes the car stand out. Since he drives this car regularly, a Sony sound system was installed to provide entertainment. If not for a broken driveshaft, we're certain David's 'Cuda would have placed higher than sixth in our challenge.
The spacious interior has more than enough room for a driver and many, many passengers. Af
There's nothing like the feeling of riding in a huge Mopar C-Body. These cars were made for road trips and cruising, and perform well on the open road, but are too heavy to make into a drag racer, right? Not if you ask Buddy Marshal. His theory is with enough power, any car can run respectably at the strip, and he proved it by running a string of low-12-second passes during our True Street Challenge. Nearly 500 ci of Dominator-fed, MSD-ignited, and normally aspirated big-block power help get this beast moving, and a TorqueFlite, Dana 60, and big tires ensure the power goes to the pavement. This combination was enough for a sixth place tie and a respectable finish for the heaviest car in our competition. In addition to its drag strip prowess, this Fury had docile road manners, a comfortable ride, and was certainly the safest car in the field. There is enough metal in the front clip of this Fury to make six Hondas. Like all our competitors, Buddy drives his Fury almost daily, attracting attention with its bright red paint scheme and throaty exhaust.
Some people may laugh at the thought of a C-Body performance car. Pull up next to Buddy Ma
After a throttle linkage problem prevented Buddy from making a pass, a track official atte
You may think "show" when you see the outside of this Plymouth Fury, but under the hood th
After suffering a hernia, the track official enlists the help of two more officials to pus
Buddy did most of the interior restoration himself, sticking with a factory look. The bucket seats were recovered, and new carpet was added. Engine parameters are monitored through aftermarket gauges and a giant tachometer with a shift light keeps track of the revs. The column shifter was disconnected and an aftermarket floor shifter takes its place. Aside from a small throttle linkage problem, Buddy's Fury performed flawlessly, and made numerous low-12-second passes.