How it all got started...
We've daydreamed about it for some time: building an NHRA-legal Stock Eliminator car. As with most bracket racing teams, we operate on a slim budget, so the dream had always stayed just that and nothing more. After spending time at a couple WDRS events, and talking to the drivers, we were not greatly encouraged. That is until we met Billy Nees.
Billy runs a V/SA six-cylinder Nova, and is a former Division 1 champion. He started showing up at Beaver Springs Dragway on occasion this year, so I approached him and asked how his season was going. After curtly telling me that his name was Billy and not Mr. Nees, he started telling me how I could be a killer in a slow car. The part that caught my attention, however, was that he said it could be done cheaply. Thus begins our journey.
After bantering about the different possibilities, Billy retrieved his NHRA Stock Classification Guide. "If you have to run a Mopar..." he would begin every sentence, we went through and found what cars might be competitive. Our conversation ended with a stern, "Whatever you do, don't spend any money." I put the word out with everybody and anybody that I was looking for an early 1980's carbureted 2.2L FWD Mopar.
One of my sponsors came through for me. Jim Murray of Jim's Used Cars in Montandon, PA located a 1985 Plymouth Duster 2.2, and it was mine. Billy was excited to hear that we had our project car. "You said you'd end up with a Duster!", the fourth in a series of Dusters - the only cars I've ever owned. He gave me a quick list of things to do to the car, and our project was underway.
The first things to go were the wipers, wiper motor, and washer fluid apparatus. I removed the power steering belt, which I'm not entirely certain was working to begin with, as the car does not steer any harder without it! After dad took his favorite reciprocating saw to the exhaust pipe behind the 'cataclysmic converter', I removed all of the trim rings from the wheels to take off whatever weight I could. I changed the oil, using our stock of Castrol GTX, and a new Fram filter. We changed the plugs, replacing the old ones with Autolite Platinums (it's what they had in the store, and there was a rebate on them. We normally run Champions in all our vehicles) gapped to the stock specification of .035". The old plugs looked downright scary. They were actually rusted, which makes me wonder where the moisture came from. I hope that the head isn't cracked.
The next day was spent just cleaning the car. After shining the interior, vaccuuming, and washing the undercarriage, the car has got to be lighter! It's mostly presentable now, and I took it to Beaver Springs Dragway for Friday Night Street Racing, just to get a baseline. I made two runs with a passenger, a 21.14 and a 21.12. I made only one good solo run, and so I was going into eliminations mostly blind. After four rounds, I emerged victorious, posting a best run of a 20.44 @ 67 mph. The car obviously needs work. ;-) I feel that it has a lot of potential, though, as we try to get it to hit the 16.25 FF/SA index. Right now, you can stage the car and simply mat it - the converter stalls at 2500 rpm and the car doesn't budge. Let off the brake, and you're gone (albeit slooooowly).
This is just the very first stage in building our FF/SA (16.25 index) '85 Duster 2.2L FWD car. Stay tuned for updates!
Special thanks to: