The 2012 Mopar Muscle True Street Challenge
Mopars, Vegas Style
From the September, 2012 issue of Mopar Muscle
By Dave Young
Photography by Jerry Heasley
We attend many events around the country, and one of our favorites has to be the Moparty at the Strip car show, autocross, and drag race held annually in Las Vegas, Nevada. During this spring event, Mopar Muscle hosts a friendly competition called the True Street Challenge, which is open to eight cars that have previously entered in either the car show or drag race during the weekend. As the name implies, our True Street Challenge is an all-around performance, drivability, and appearance test for classic Mopars, and is a fun opportunity to get your car in the magazine.
Each year at Moparty at the...
Each year at Moparty at the Strip event, we encourage our readers to enter our annual True Street Challenge. Eight cars get chosen, and it's a great way to get in the magazine!
After choosing eight contestants from the applications we got for the challenge, the entrants are notified and we meet at The Strip (the dragstrip, not the Casinos), for the event. The Mopar Muscle True Street Challenge begins Friday morning, but this year we needed to get it in quick due to the threat of rain. After arriving in the reserved parking area just inside the gate, all of the cars are given the rules of the contest and then judged just as we would judge a show car for appearance, trim, fit and finish, and overall condition. After the judging is over, we go across the street to the local gas station where all the cars fill up with pump fuel.
Once everyone is fueled up, we lead the cars on a twenty-mile cruise through the desert, stopping along the way for photo opportunities. All but one of our cars made the trip without problems, and--fortunately--all the cars eventually made it back to the track, where they needed to make two dragstrip passes. All of the cars were judged on their best quarter-mile performance, with the quicker cars earning more points than slower ones. Overall judging boils down to one-third show judging, one-third drivability, and one-third quarter-mile performance.
This year, six of our eight contestants made the call and completed the True Street Challenge, with one car not making it to Vegas due to an issue with a tow vehicle and another making it to the show, but with a coolant leak preventing it from competing. The other six contestants represented a variety of Mopars including an A-Body, a variety of B-Bodies, and even an A-100 Dodge truck. The contest was close, and came down to just less than ten points between first and last. This year we congratulate all of the True Street contestants, especially Holly Graves as the winner of the Mopar Muscle True Street Challenge in his beautiful B5 Blue '69 Charger.
Our True Street Challenge...
Our True Street Challenge contest involves drag racing, a show judging portion, and some street driving through the desert outside Las Vegas. These cars must look good, have nice street manners, and run respectable elapsed times in the quarter-mile to be a contender.
Dragstrip performance is just...
Dragstrip performance is just as important as a car’s appearance, and each car in the contest gets to make at least two passes down the track.
The True Street Challenge...
The True Street Challenge begins with a car show where all the vehicles are judged on their overall appearance. After that, everyone fills up with pump gas to ensure these are street friendly combinations.
Las Vegas, Nevada
'69 Dodge Charger R/T
Holly Graves' '69 Charger R/T is a combination of restoration, modification, function, and performance. Equipped with a 517-inch Hemi built by Arruzza Performance, the engine features a Mopar block, Stage V cylinder heads, and is fed by a pair of Edelbrock 650 carburetors. With the original 833 four-speed and 4.10 geared Dana 60 rear end, this Charger drives as great as it looks, and Wilwood disc brakes on all four corners ensure the heavy B-Body can stop as well. During the driving portion of our event, Holly put about twice the miles on his Charger as the other contestants, driving back and forth from the track to retrieve a battery for a fellow entrant when his car's alternator stopped working at our photo shoot location. Though traction was limited on the dragstrip, the Charger managed 12.76-second pass in the quarter-mile, at an impressive 114 mph. With a set of sticky tires this Charger would certainly be quicker, but running 12s and scoring highly in the show and drivability categories was enough for Holly Graves and his '69 Charger R/T to win the 2012 challenge.
On the track, Holly Graves got his Charger to run a best elapsed time of 12.76 seconds in the quarter-mile. Getting traction was the biggest issue with this Charger, but by adjusting his driving technique, Holly got the Charger into the 12s for a win.
'63 Plymouth Fury
The '63 Fury Doug Wikfors brought to our contest is a great example of a tough looking early B-Body. Doug found this car as a nice original and purchased it from the owner as a project to drive and race. Also owning a factory Max Wedge B-Body, Doug says that car is too valuable to cut up and make safe and fun, so the Fury was purchased as a fun street/strip project. For power, Doug chose a 440 wedge topped with Edelbrock Victor cylinder heads and a Victor 440 intake. To harness the power, a 727 TorqueFlite was chosen and the rear of the car was mini-tubbed to make room for some sticky tires. Doug's Fury scored highly in the show and race categories, but unfortunately, points were deducted during the driving portion when his car's alternator stopped working, killing his battery. With some help from Holly Graves, however, another battery was retrieved from the track, and Doug went on to finish the challenge.
Doug's '63 Fury performed well during the driving portion of our contest, but as a recently completed car, he hadn't quite worked out all the bugs in the car's charging system. Even so, this Fury scored well and looks great, and we thank Doug for entering our contest.
'67 Dodge Coronet R/T
We love the boxy styling of the '66 and '67 B-Bodies, and Dale Hoffman's '67 RT is a nicely built street/strip Mopar. Equipped with a 528 cubic inch big-block and Edelbrock Victor cylinder heads backed by a 727 automatic trans and 4.10 geared 83?4 rear, Dale admits he built this car with one thing in mind--outrunning his friends' Mopars! During the restoration, the car's roof was damaged during a storm when the Coronet was nearly complete, which was a real setback. Determined to finish the project, Dale re-skinned the roof and completed the car, building a nicely modified, good-looking B-Body that runs 11s in the quarter, and is docile enough to drive in parades. Running an 11.40 flat at 114.73 mph, this was the fastest car in the 2012 Challenge, and Dale narrowly missed winning this close contest.
This '67 Coronet R/T ran fast, consistent times at the track, and, at 11.40 in the quarter-mile, was the quickest car in the 2012 True Street Challenge. This Dodge had great street manners as well, and we thank Dale for entering our competition.
'68 Dodge A-100
Trucks are cool, and A-100s like this one owned by Kevin Jones are even cooler. Kevin came all the way from Colorado to attend the event, and we're glad he entered the challenge. Kevin's truck is equipped with a fairly mild 360 small-block topped with X heads, a 727 TorqueFlite transmission with a 2,500-rpm converter, and an 8-3/4 differential with 3.55 gears. This truck did great during the driving portion of the contest, and we loved the bare bones utility of the A-100. On the track, Kevin performed well, but not as well as he expected because of a fuel system issue starving the carburetor at the top end of the track. Running a best of 13.88 seconds at only 86.56 mph, Kevin knew something was amiss as his Dodge had run in the 12s earlier in the weekend. Eventually discovering a fuel tank venting issue, Kevin had the truck running properly again, but not in time for our Saturday afternoon passes down the track.
Kevin suffered from a fuel system venting problem, which he later resolved (temporarily) by loosening the gas cap. His best elapsed time during our challenge was 13.88 seconds, though he went quicker the next day after repairing the issue.
'68 Dodge Dart
Coming to Vegas from neighboring California, Jess Eddards' "retina melting red" '68 Dart was the only fuel injected Mopar to enter this year's challenge. Powering his Dart, Jess utilized a '72 360 block and Mopar Performance crankshaft, netting a small-block displacing 408 cubic inches. Topped with Edelbrock Performer RPM cylinder heads, Jess originally utilized a carburetor to feed his engine, but swapped to a FAST EZ EFI 1000-cfm throttle body fuel injection system just before our contest. Backing the small-block is a 727 automatic that he built himself with a docile 2,200-rpm stall converter, and an 8-3/4 rear with 3.23 gears. The interior of the Dart was refurbished with help from friends and parts from Year One, and even includes air conditioning from Classic Auto Air. On the track, this '68 Dart ran a best of 13.30 in the quarter-mile, but had gone 12s with the carburetor feeding it. Since the FAST fuel injection "learns" as the car is driven more and more, Jess just didn't feel like the system had tuned itself properly in time for our contest. Even so, this Dart is a great all around performer, and Jess thanks his wife, family, and friends for helping him build a fun and competitive Mopar.
This '68 Dart is a great all-around driver and performer, running consistent low 13s in the quarter-mile at Vegas. His best pass during our contest was a 13.30 at 102.87 mph, which is quick enough to beat about anything you find on the street these days.
'69 Plymouth Road Runner
George Russell and his wife Mary took "true street" to a whole new level, by driving their '69 Hemi Road Runner all the way from Wyoming to the show in Las Vegas. Driving this Road Runner is nothing new to the Russells, as this was the first new car they ever purchased. After selling the car to a dealer around 1973, George found the car again in 1986, and eventually purchased it back without the original engine. With help from family and talented friends, George put his Road Runner back together again and even found a correctly date coded 426 Hemi to install in front of the TorqueFlite transmission. George's Plymouth features mostly stock equipment, including the carbs and exhaust, and even has 2.76 gears in the 8-3/4 for easy highway cruising. This car scored well in the show and drivability categories, but the 2.76 gears didn't help quarter-mile performance. Even so, we congratulate George on his beautiful Road Runner, and as one of few who drove his car to Vegas instead of hauling it on a trailer.
On the track, we're sure George didn't want to lean on his Road Runner too much since he had to rely on it for a long trip back to Wyoming. He still managed respectable times, clocking a best of 15.05 seconds at 94.34 mph.
Do you think you have what it takes to run in the Mopar Muscle True Street Challenge? Do you have comments regarding the rules or how to enter? Be sure to visit our website, www.moparmusclemagazine.com
, for answers to all your questions, and to see exclusive photos from the 2012 and past True Street Challenges. Hope to see you in Vegas next year!