'69 Plymouth Road Runner
In the summer of 1983, Pat Derieg saw this Road Runner for sale in the parking lot of a local apartment complex for $500. he wanted the car and saved his money riding the bus to work all summer. Since he was only fifteen years old and hadn't learned to shift a manual transmission yet, his older brother had to drive the car home after it was purchased. Through high school, he fixed the car up and drove it, but always wanted to really build the car right.

In 1999, Pat decided it was time, sold all his other projects, and started on the Road Runner. Going for the pro street look, he installed a four-link rear suspension, rollcage, and Dana 60 rear differential. Wheeltubs were added to accommodate the huge Mickey Thompson tires in the back.

When it was time to build the drivetrain for his Road Runner, Pat opted to make this car appear as a '6911/42 Six Pack clone. The original 383 was set aside, and a 440 block was stuffed with a Mopar Performance 4.15-inch stroke crank, main studs, and .050-inch oversize pistons for a compression ratio of 10.3:1. A Hughes .575-inch lift solid flat-tappet cam was installed, and 346 casting heads were ported in house for this engine. A Weiand six-barrel intake was used with a trio of Holley two-barrels; Hooker headers expel the spent gasses through a Dynomax exhaust. The A-833 four-speed was resealed and treated to a new clutch and Hurst shifter. Out back, the Dana 60 rear was fitted with a Sure grip, 4.10 gears, and Moser axles.

While this is a stout combination, Pat had a little trouble getting down the track. Tire spin and trouble shifting netted a 15-second pass, which is certainly not indicative of what this car is capable of. Even so, Pat placed fifth in our challenge.

'68 Dodge Charger
Twenty-year-old Lauren Mestas of Albuquerque, New Mexico, was the youngest competitor in this year's true street challenge. from a family of Mopar enthusiasts, there was really no other choice than Mopar when Lauren told her family she'd like a car to cruise and race.

In addition to racing, Lauren's family raises puppies. One day, when delivering a puppy to their neighbor, he asked if they would be interested in an old Dodge in his yard. Upon seeing the '68 Charger, Lauren and her parents quickly agreed the car would suit their needs and struck a deal to trade two puppies for the car. Why can't we find deals like that?

Though Lauren was too young to drive at the time, her parents fixed the car up and gave it to her when she turned 16. That same year she won the first race she entered, but then tragedy struck. The next time she went to the track, Lauren wrecked the car. That accident began the process of rebuilding the Charger. Lauren's mom tackled the interior, while Lauren and her dad worked on the body damage. When complete, Lauren decided to paint the car the bright silver metal flake color it wears today.

Knowing she'd never be satisfied with a stock 318, Lauren convinced her parents she needed more power to move her Charger. A 440 block was obtained and bored .030-inch oversize to accommodate Kieth Black pistons. Aluminum rods were utilized to keep reciprocating weight down, and a stock cast crank spins in the journals. A Mopar Performance .484-inch lift hydraulic cam was installed, and the factory iron cylinder heads were rebuilt and topped with an Edelbrock intake and Holley Street Avenger carburetor. The TorqueFlite was overhauled by Lauren's dad, and a 2,400-rpm stall converter was added. The 831/44 rear houses street-friendly 3.55 gears.

Lauren says the car is part of the family, and it represents love of family, faith, courage, and hard work. Some of her best memories are from working with her parents to rebuild the car after her accident. We commend Lauren and her family for their efforts, and congratulate her for getting back to the track after the accident. Lauren's solid 15-second elapsed times earned her a sixth place.