The slogan What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas doesn't apply here because what happens in Vegas every year at the Moparty at the Strip show must be shared. From the terrific racing action, to the enormous swap meet, vendor village, Hotchkis autocross, and car show--this event has it all. It also happens to be the event we choose to host our Mopar Muscle True Street Challenge.
Each year we make small changes or adjustments to the way we operate and/or score the True Street Challenge. This year, we made a few alterations to the scoring system that would place more importance on the track passes made by the competitors, and we would average the scores accrued in the categories of Show, Street, and Road worthiness. This made the scoring system fairer, in our minds, and added balance to the scoring and we’re happy with the results.
As with every year, we had some terrific cars apply for the True Street Challenge. We chose the cars that we felt embodied the closest interpretation of the ultimate street cars. Once selected, they were requested to meet with us at our True Street Challenge parking area near the main gate. As the cars staggered in, we knew it was going to be a competitive field since each one stood out in their own way.
After two days of judging and scoring, the clear winner ended up being Dennis Knox with his '71 Dart Swinger. What's more impressive is that there were three competitors just shy of his lead, and their scores could have gone in their favor with a slightly quicker pass or slightly better on-road manners.
Congratulations to Dennis and to the rest of our competitors who braved rain and snow--yes, snow--to be in our Challenge. We hope to see you all next year at the Moparty at the Strip event!
1 Dennis Knox
'71 Dodge Dart Swinger
Dennis Knox's Swinger is a real head-turner. Dennis and his father Mark performed all the bodywork--much of it custom--themselves. A '09 Dodge Challenger hood was hacked up and modified to fit onto the original Swinger hood--keep in mind the new Challenger hood is aluminum and the Dart's hood is steel. Once they were happy with the way it turned out, they modified the doors to use '70 Challenger door handles and wedged a set of '70 Road Runner taillights into the bumper. After the bodywork was completed, Dennis took the car to his friend Chris at Elite Automotive Finishes in Mesa, Arizona, where it was painted two-tone bright silver on the bottom and burgundy with red pearl on top.
To further enhance the Dart's visual appeal, a set of 18x7-inch front and 18x8-inch rear American Racing wheels were slapped on to shroud a set of Dart front disc brakes and 10x2.5 rear drums. Inside, Tim at Classic American Rides in Gilbert, Arizona, performed all the work on the interior upholstery--recovering the SRT-4 seats in black suede and fabricating a new center console.
The original Slant-Six was cleared out to make room for the new-to-Dennis 440. Inside the big-block is an impressive rotating assembly consisting of Keith Black forged pistons, forged rods, and a Chrysler steel crank. A custom set of aluminum 440 Source heads were modified by Howards. A FAST EZ EFI system mounted to an Edelbrock Single Plane intake manifold round out the engine combination. For the exhaust, Dennis went with a 3-inch center-exit exhaust--a la SRT8 Cherokee--with tti headers and Hooker mufflers. The distributor is an MSD Billet and the oiling system is from Mopar Performance. Ed Little from Chandler, Arizona, rebuilt the 727 to handle the power and is shifted by a B&M Stealth Ratchet. The transmission uses a 3,000-stall Rev Max Billet torque converter with an anti-ballooning plate built by Tom Hauser in Phoenix. Dennis tells us that he's gone a best of 11.71 seconds at 118.24 mph, but, as you see, he didn't quite reach that elapsed time with the Vegas air. It didn't matter. The combination of excellent looks, terrific road manors, and impressive track times were enough to take home the victory.