Well, we're on the home stretch. We're three days away from the NevadaOpen Road Challenge at the time of this writing. by the time this hitsthe newsstands, we will have already completed the race and, hopefully,finished shiny side up. If you've been following along, you know we'vebeen preparing our Project Stealth Bomber '89 Diplomat police car forthe Nevada Open Road Challenge (NORC)--an open-road race in Ely, Nevada,spanning a 90-mile stretch of Highway 318. For the uninitiated, we tookone slightly worn ex-patrol car, rebuilt and beefed the A999 automatictrans, freshened up the front suspension, added some modificationsincluding Koni shocks and a Quickor sway bar, put a 2.76 gear and alimited slip in the 8.25-inch rearend, and dropped in a warmed-over 360to provide forward thrust. We would be competing in the 110-mph classwith a whole gaggle of much more exotic iron.

This final installment before the race focuses on safety equipment. Wecannot overstate the importance of safety, particularly in this form ofracing. While all racing should be treated with respect from a safetystandpoint, open-road racing is serious business. sustained high-speedsand varying course conditions require a level of preparation not foundin many other forms of racing, from a mechanical perspective as well asa mental perspective. While the Silver State Classic Challenge web siteclearly explains the rules of preparation for the event, be sure thetechnical inspection won't overlook any shortcomings or shortcuts youmay have taken to prepare your steed. As you will see, we've goneoverboard with the safety equipment, but that's not a bad thing as weintend to step the interceptor up in class in the future. Always betterto have more safety equipment than what is required. We also addedbigger front disc brakes from a '79 Plymouth Gran Fury police car, newhigh-speed tires, and a slew of other items to make the Stealth Bomber abetter car and open-road racer.

Rubber Donuts

Tires are the hottest issue in open-road-type racing as they can meanthe difference between successfully completing the event and balling upyour ride. When we set out to find a suitable tire for our needs, therealization that 15-inch tires are no longer en vogue became crystalclear. Don't take us wrong, there are plenty of 15s available, but notstreet-legal, V-rated tires. A V-rating means the tire is capable ofsustained 149 mph. So, with that in mind, we looked into the realm of anemergency vehicle tire. Not only are they speed rated, they are held toa much higher standard than ordinary tires. we opted for Firestone'sexcellent PV41 Firehawk series of tires. The PV in PV41 stands forPursuit Vehicle. Keep in mind, the Stealth Bomber isn't the lightestweight vehicle to ever hit the road, and, in fact, "portly" is puttingit mildly. The PV41 tire was designed for police vehicles, traditionallyheavy and large four-door sedans laden with a boatload of additionalemergency equipment. Wanting the biggest contact patch available, wespec'd Firestone's 235/70/R15. Before you scoff at the height of thesetires measuring a full 28-inches tall, remember the NORC features widesweeping turns, therefore the tall sidewalls won't be a detriment.