Since the hope was to actually race the car again, the suspension was rebuilt primarily for straight-line action. Strange supplied the double-adjustable front shocks and the brakes; Racefab custom-built the four-link and 60-inch wheelie bars; the rear shocks (also double adjustable) came from Afco; and lightweight Bogart wheels round out the package. With an Auto Body Specialties hood and Sled City scoop (not NHRA legal, unfortunately), the car runs over the scales at just under 3,300 pounds. Credit for the incredible silver paint (a custom mix using House of Kolor pigments) goes to Jack Pennington, who also did the angry elephant cartoon on the hoodscoop; Rudy the Striper handled the rest of the paint detail.
Under the hood is a full-tilt Super Stock engine that cranked out 900-plus ponies on the dyno at Chuck Millen's Best Machine in Warren, Michigan. Using a new Mopar block, Mike was able to get a brand-new engine to replace the long-gone original, with a blueprinted Callies crankshaft, GRP rods, and C/P pistons spinning safely to eight grand in the bottom end. Scott Brown at Straightline Performance spec'd out a roller cam that opens the valves in conjunction with Jesel, Smith Brothers, Comp, and Isky components. The top end was all customized: heads worked by Modern Cylinder Head, a Hogan intake, and twin Holleys modified by Pro Systems (an NHRA legal combo will need the AFB's back on it; this layout is for fun and testing), with an NRC offset distributor, and MSD parts sparking the fuel.
A TorqueFlite, worked over by JPT, handles the gear changes, along with an 8-inch PTC converter, Griner transbrake, and PPP air shifter. Racefab built a Dana 60 housing with moly tubing that uses 5.13 Richmond gears and Strange pieces. The car rides on Moroso and M/H rubber.
The engine in Mike's monster...
The engine in Mike's monster is a "little more legal" than NHRA will allow. Race-prepped carbs, an independent runner intake, exotic valvegear, and lots of goodies make this one a touch on the stock questionable side.
We at Mopar Muscle don't cover a lot of race iron, but this one is special. It won first place in Super Stock (race car division) at the '06 Detroit Autorama, Best Race car at the '06 CEMA show at DaimlerChrysler headquarters in Auburn Hills, and took second place at the '06 Engelhart Performance Customer Appreciation Day, where it was up against over 40 other race Hemi entries from around the country.
Mike's nephew Joel Ricketts and pal John Terenzi worked with him on the project from day one, putting in a lot of time and sweat to make it complete.
To date, testing has yielded times in the 9-second range at 138 mph without trying hard; Mike plans to dial the car down into the 9.0s closer to 150 mph. Still debating a shot at NHRA Super Stock, he and Rhonda hope to get some laps in running at Mopar-oriented and nostalgia drag racing events once they finish showing the car this year.
Mike says, "I will probably never do a car detailed to this extent again. a lot of people thought I was nuts to put this kind of money into a race car, but I'd like to meet the guy who said a race car can't be nice. with mufflers and plates, it could probably be street driven."