Viper Nation

Supercar Dodge Viper site with pictures, technical info, experiential stories with a few other winter action extreme stories posted.

RTTTTed On August - 8 - 2011

Are You Feeling Lucky?


Ted Hlokoff

Doug Roots was feeling lucky.  He was thinking, ‘Third time’s a charm.’  He’d lost his two previous attempts to beat my Dodge Charger to the finish line.  Going from 302 to 355 cubic inches that was only a few car lengths behind, Doug must have thought that a stoker (383ci) small block was the ticket?


My Charger was 440 cubic inches so I wasn’t worried much.  Unfortunately, for Doug, I was also expanding my horsepower and had recently changed over to a tubbed and framed 71 Plymouth GTX.  I’d also gone from a hydraulic camshaft to a solid lifter cam. 


Last winter I was walking through the junkyard and saw a Hemi Orange car at the top of a car pile and liked the looks.  When I climbed to the top of the pile of cars and looked at the interior of the Plymouth Satellite Sebring I loved the slapstick stick shifter, the woodgrain console and highback bucket seats.  I bought the car, repaired the car and re-registered it.  My previous Muscle car was a 72 Dodge Charger SE and since I’d run wrinkle slicks on the car too often the rear passenger subframe was now 2” higher than the floor around it, time to replacement the car.   I upgraded the Satellite’s suspension to the GTX torsion bars and rear Super stock springs. 



At one of our local Car Club’s larger Car Cruises (usually 500 cars and 3 stops) Roots finally brought his nasty 69 Camaro Z28 out “to play”.  The last Cruise stop was Coquitlam Center.  I went to Doug Roots and told him, “It’s time.”  He agreed and said that we’d meet at “the bypass”. 


“OK, wait until most of the cars leave and you can show me where the bypass is,” I said.  He agreed.  Doug also made some comments about, “carrying my ass home in a bag”?  After most of the cars had left,  I had Ian climb up in the back of my Monster Truck (440-6pac in a 76 Powerwagon stepside) and look across the parking lot.  No Camaro … he’d left.  Not being a local in Port Coquitlam I had no idea where this ‘track’ was.  After asking about 8 cars, finally one guy said it was down the highway east to ***** (?) road and turn right at the Inn. 


So we headed east at the highway and followed a 71 Hemi ‘Cuda.  He turned into a Bar, so I pulled up behind him and asked where the ‘bypass’ was.  He said it was down the street beside the “Wild Duck Inn’s” parking lot (where we were sitting) … to the end.  We pulled out and turned left down the road.  About a mile down that road was a street lamp that showed New 4 lane pavement!  I followed that down a half mile further and here was a traffic island with 2 lanes of new pavement on each side.  Awesome … for a street strip. 


Doug Roots’ Camaro was pointing towards me, on the other side of the road.  I stopped and got out of my car.  There were hundreds of people here.  Doug had been considerate enough to keep my side of the road clear for parking my support vehicles that were carrying my tools, mufflers and street tires.


“Cops are coming,” Doug said.  “I’ve been waiting for 20 minutes and I figure that in 10 minutes the cops will arrive.  You want to race, turn around and we’ll go right now.”


“Ass—e, why’d you take off on me?” I asked the obvious question.


Smiling like a jackass, Roots said, “I didn’t feel like waiting.”


As I drove past the traffic island and turned around I was still swearing at Doug.  My new engine was running hot and only had 50 miles on it since I’d rebuilt it.  I was not in a good mood when I stopped short of the starting line and waited for Glen to pour the water in front of my tires so I could heat up the 14 x 32W wrinkle slicks.  A spin through a quick splash of traction compound and I rolled to the start line.  I heard the Camaro making noise in the other lane getting prepped for the race.


After I’d been waiting at the starting line for nearly a minute, and Root’s car didn’t pull up, I put my car in park and opened the door.  Doug had someone else driving his car and said we’re ready.


It seemed like a ‘game’ that the Pro-stock racers use sometimes at the track.  They try and wait out the other guy’s car.  Being lightweight, race cars have small radiators.  Burnouts and high powered launches are taxing on automatic transmissions so they have a tendency to ‘burn down’ if they aren’t perfect or take too long waiting.  Drivers get disqualified for delaying too long.  My car had a 3 core big block radiator and just a smaller 3500 Hi-stall convertor.  It would take a half hour to burn me down, but Roots didn’t know that.  It was a ‘strategy’ that I considered cheating.  Oh well, at least it’s not as effective as the time the guy pissed in front of my tire on the starting line, I lost that race.


Finally the Camaro pulled to the starting line.  Not only had Doug upgraded to a pro-built 383 stroker motor I had been hearing an automatic trans., so he’d upgraded from the 4 speed as well. 


As the starter, Glen, raised his arms slowly I stalled the engine against the brakes and brought up the rpm to about 2200.  Roots had a trans-brake in his car as I heard his open header’d engine revs climb to over 4,000.  With a jerk the starter dropped his arms.  I punched my throttle and exploded off the starting line.  This open header’d 440 was without doubt the loudest car I’d ever built and flaming the big wrinkle slicks away from the starting line, this was the first time I’d full throttled the new engine … I was impressed, this was the fastest I’d ever accelerated in a car, ever!


As I left the starting line I saw the Camaro’s front tires lift more than a foot off the pavement, and then my vision narrowed to only the road in front of me.  I didn’t see the Camaro after that.  I just hung onto the steering wheel and turned into the slide, enjoying the ride.  The only way to describe that much acceleration is to suggest the new Superman ride because I understand that has equal acceleration to a 9 sec race car with its Maglev drive.  That still doesn’t cover the feel and sound of the open header 440 engine screaming with decibels off the scale of a meter.


The wrinkle slicks finally grabbed the pavement solid just before I shifted into second gear.  As I grabbed second one of the cylinders in my engine quit firing!  Was it going to blow up? I took a quick glance at my oil gauge and that showed good pressure, power had only dropped off slightly, as if I only had a 7 cylinder engine.  I looked beside me for the Camaro and it was not there.  In the rear view mirror I could see the Camaro behind me a few lengths.  Even though I was running on 7 cylinders, I was pulling away strongly.  I prayed that I could maintain my lead of several car lengths because a GM had never ruled the streets around Vancouver and it wouldn’t be right if one did now.  I ran down across the finish line TEN car lengths in front of the Camaro!  Totally amazing, I’d blown him away worse than any other competitor that had been considered worth racing.  The new 440 GTX combination was really spectacular and unbelievably impressive. 


After the finish line I coasted to the street lamp and turned around driving back to the starting line.  I went past the traffic island and turned around, pulling up nearly to the starting line and shutting off my engine.  I jumped out and opened my hood.  It was dark, really dark.  I could feel the steam as my radiator overflow sprayed anti-freeze onto the road because of the engine’s excessive heat.  I wasn’t concerned about that, I knew that part of Roots strategy was to try and overheat me, but I was just hot, not overheated. 


Roots was standing on the traffic island.  “Can we race again?  I think I can go a little faster than my cousin.”  Hmm, another strategy?  Cousin drives so that there is an excuse to lose?


“Not only did I win by ten car lengths,” I said, “but I lost a cylinder right off the start.  I really want to make sure that I didn’t hurt my engine before doing anything else.  Anyone got a flashlight?”


Roots came back after a minute, “Could this be the problem?” and held out a fan belt.  It looked too short to fit my big block engine, but I waved my hand until I felt the fan belt on my car.  “Here it is,” said Doug as he reached into my engine compartment and lifted a new spark plug wire that was hanging loose beside the engine!  I took the wire and plugged it back into the distributor cap!  Firing up my engine it had that sweet v8 sound that excites all car guys. 


Suddenly, I saw headlights coming down the road towards us.  Oh no, they didn’t approach from a long distance, they suddenly appeared only a couple blocks in front of us.  “Cops,” I said.


Someone else screamed, “It’s the cops,” and people started running.  Hundreds of people ran for their cars.  I shut my hood and watched my brother-in-law drive my pickup (with my mufflers and street tires) away.  He didn’t mention where he was going.  Being parked on the wrong side of the road, and the cop right in front of me, I shut the engine off.  No point in trying to run, he was right here, running could cause problems or become dangerous so I just sat there.


The RCMP officer parked on the side of the road directly beside me, and got out.  “Who won,” he said. 


If I said I won then I’d be admitting to an illegal activity – busted!  If I claimed that I didn’t know, I’d be lying and sometimes that really upset cops because they aren’t usually stupid.  I was ‘between a rock and a hard place’.


A passenger standing beside my car took over with, “The good old Dodge kicked ass!” 


The cop looked at me, ran his eyes from the front to the back and said, “Good, I prefer Mopar myself.”  Roots had jumped in his Camaro and took off as the cop got out of his car.  I was wondering if I’d blown it by not leaving then too.  The cop was polite and asked me a few questions about the engine, tires, suspension, etc.  His radio squealed and he turned away for a minute.  He looked back at me and said, “I suppose you should head out of here.”


“Umm, my tires are kind of smooth,” I said.  “You scared my brother-in-law away and I hope he’s waiting at the Mall so I can put the street tires back on.”

Daughter by street tire …


I’d asked a couple people to stand in front of the tires so that the cop couldn’t see the non-treaded wrinkle slicks.  The cop pushed them away and put his hand on the tread … quickly yanking his hand back, “Ohhh, still pretty sticky and hot.  My co-officers have nearly finished with the Camaro guy up there.  He had a trailer plate and no insurance so he’s waiting for a tow truck.  You can leave before those guys come here with more tickets to write.”


“It’s gonna be kinda loud, because my brother-in-law took my mufflers too,”  I was really pushing it.  I was thinking that I nearly always get tickets for nothing and Coquitlam RCMP do not have a reputation for nicety.


“Start it,” the cop said.  I started my car with a roar.  I was even trying to keep it quiet, but this engine would not be quieted.  The RCMP looked at the ground, he looked at me with a pained expression in his eyes and said, “Get out of here.  I’ll tell the guys at the Camaro that I gave you $500 worth of fines so they’ll let you go by.”


A quick, “Thank you!” and I rolled out of there.  It was probably my imagination, but it seemed that the 4 RCMP along the side of the road with Roots were staring at me as I slowly coasted past.  I did find my brother-in-law waiting in the Mall parking lot and we did re-install my mufflers and street tires before going home.


It’s hard to imagine a better day than that.  It can’t get more exciting and I admit that I felt close to a heart attack or stroke while dealing with the cop.  In the end I learned to have respect because I was shown that not every cop wants to ruin your life because you deserve a speeding ticket.  Some cops already figured out that you even got extra speeding tickets that you didn’t deserve and they try to make up for that?

I did get a show car paint job on the car and wom many car show trophies with that car.  I would sell Nuts and Fruits at the shows, which paid my expences to show my car.  I even mud wrestled with a Playboy Bunny and a female world champion power lifter during a car show.




Categories: Dodge stories

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