We get plenty of mail. Sometimes it's to sing our praises, sometimes it's to chastise us, and sometimes stuff shows up we really want to know more about. When Jason Hammond began telling us about his '94 Dakota, we wondered just what made this truck so great.
Jason, who hails from Beaumont, Texas, is a Mopar guy on a mission. That mission, we soon discovered, was to kick butt and take names. After meeting up with Jason at a 2001 NMCA event, we asked him to tell us more about his adventures with engines, nitrous, and about waging war in street-legal-style drag racing.
In Jason's own words...-Ed.
My Dodge truck has actually been a constant work in progress since I purchased it new in 1994. I saw this truck's potential during the initial gearshifts. The NV3500 five-speed seemed as if it were geared for stump pulling (First gear is 4.01:1) and the 318 was torquey enough to produce tire smoke. I loved the looks of amazement I received from some of the local Mustang and Camaro guys. At the stoplight, the question was always the same."What do you have in that thing?"
So, an unassuming Dodge truck soon captured the attention of many gear-grinders on the street and on the track.
The truck, with no internal engine modifications and good drive technique, yielded a best e.t. of 13.73 at 100 mph. Later, with a little 125hp Nitrous Express gas blast coming online, the pickup clocked a pleasing 12.29 e.t. at 112 mph.
Some of the modifications I made to the truck did not net major gains at the track, but were essential to adding more horsepower and going to the next performance level. For instance, I installed an MSD 6AL ignition, MSD timing control module, and a Holley coil to keep the spark hot.
There was also a problem with fuel delivery-my fuel pressure would drop 5 pounds if I put the 150hp jets in the Nitrous Express "Shark" nozzle-so I couldn't use the second stage of nitrous. I called Greg Johns at Car Tech in San Antonio and purchased everything needed to install a complete Aeromotive EFI fuel system to handle 500-plus horsepower fuel delivery. Greg also made a set of billet fuel rails so I could use #8 fittings. Elapsed times continued to fall after upgrading to an Engle cam, some mild head porting, a Superchips-tuned computer, Mopar Performance's M1 intake manifold, Crower 1.6 roller rockers, CalTrac traction bars, Hurst shifter, and minor suspension modifications. With these changes, the Dakota netted a best e.t. of 13.46 on the engine and a whopping 11.62 on a 150hp shot of nitrous.
Soon thereafter I shifted my attention beyond engine performance by adding a 3-inch Dominator Cowl induction hood from U.S. Body Source (which my friend Bobby Ettredge paint-matched). I also dropped in Autometer gauges, and lightened the front end with a carbon-fiber bumper and brackets from Ron Kleber at GATR Collision.
For a rearend upgrade I discovered that a '71 Mustang 9-inch has the exact leaf-spring spacing as a '92-'96 Dakota. I found a housing and upgraded the internals with 31-spline Moser axles, a Moser spool, and Precision 4.10:1 gears. The truck could now handle everything this engine would dish out.
Of course, power and success had their drawbacks.
I grew weary of being kicked off the local NHRA-sanctioned track every time I ran 11s, so I set the nitrous tune for low 12s and raced in the NMCA EFI class. Using nitrous to dial in for the conditions proved difficult, but after I had enough data recorded from time trials, it was fairly easy to adjust for the track, weather, and race conditions. The guys in the class are great, and usually the staging lanes become a place for folks to catch up on the "happenings" between events. Most of the guys who show up for the races follow the event circuit, so few locals know they have a car or truck that can compete in the EFI class. The rules are easy to accommodate, and it's been fun to participate in the NMCA.