Doug Wind has piloted his 2004 Dodge SRT-4, the Modern Performance sponsored Time Attack car to be the fastest FWD to ever compete in the Optima Ultimate Street Car Challenges. Doug is up against some of the fastest AWD and RWD cars in this class of racing, and he is kicking butt. We had an opportunity to ask him 10 questions about his experiences racing in Time Attack. Check it out below!
1) Name some of your favorite tracks and what makes them your favorite.
My 2 favorite tracks are Road Atlanta and VIR (Virginia International Raceway). Having raced the Modern Performance SRT4 on over 30 tracks in 20 states these 2 tracks have been long time favorites. The rolling terrain of these tracks provide a lot of variations from turn to turn combined with the elevation changes it makes for a very fun place to drive.
2) Tell us about your engine specs (Turbo, pistons, rods)
My engine is still the stock 2.4L configuration built to withstand the rigours of sustained competition. While we built the motor for reliability, we are also able to make a great deal of power using almost exclusively off the shelf parts. The bedplate is machined for a strap kit and we had the crank magnafluxed and polished prior to the build. We use BC 625+ rods on Clevite bearings and JE 8.5:1 pistons. We have maintained the oil squirters in the motor to help deal with the extended run times on the motor. The motor is topped with a Ported and Polished head running +2,+1 valves, 2.7L followers and Crane 16 camshafts. The big power comes from the Garrett GTX3076R turbo perched on a full v-band Tunergeeks tubular manifold and utilizing a TiAL Sport 0.63 housing and a custom 3″ SEE exhaust.
3) Tell us about your suspension setup (coilovers, camber, tire size, custom bolt pattern spacers)
The suspension is pretty exotic. We run the only set of JRZ dampers in the world made for an SRT4. These are double adjustable for Rebound and Damping and have remote mounted reservoirs. We have also been able to source a pair of the Mopar Racing program knuckles for the front of the car to help with bump-steer and roll-center deficiencies found in the OEM suspension components. Our set-up is fairly straight forward and we run about -2.5* of camber in the front and -2.0* in the rear. For smaller tracks we run about 1/8″ of total toe OUT and for the big tracks we run zero or slight toe IN. The toe IN helps with the high-speed stability and therefore straight-line speed, which is a strength of the Alpha Skittle. For tires we run various sizes based on the event, but by-far our most used size would be the 275/35/18. While we do run larger 295/30/18′s at times, the 275 is the most readily available size and the most versatile. We are able to run such large tire and wheel sizes because in 2009 a friend of mine and I designed and built custom Billet Steel hubs for the car to replace the 5×100 bolt pattern with a much more wheel friendly 5×114.3 pattern. Of course with all the added pressure on the hubs and studs, we made the new hubs much thicker than OEM and utilize ARP studs. We love the Enkei RPF1′s and have 4 sets in various sizes for both street-tire events and full race events. Our most used size is an 18×10.5 with a 15mm offset.
4) What’s the fastest you’ve ever driven your Neon on the track?
Just this past summer we went 172.4 mph while competing in the Grassroots Motorsports Magazine Ultimate Track Car Challenge. They (GRM) invite 50 of the fastest track cars in the country to Virginia International Raceway to see just who is the big-dog. Other than safety requirements, there are very few “rules” and it’s a “Run what you brung; and hope you brung enough” shootout!
5) What year did your car go from regular street driven car to a full time track car?
After winning our class in the One Lap of America in 2007, we were competing almost exclusively in NASA Time Trial events and decided the car should be gutted to maximize the Power to Weight ratio that governs the classing of cars in the series. While doing this however we always kept in mind the future possibility of running the car again in the One Lap and also other potential “street” oriented events. Because of that there was minimal “permanent” changes made to the car. We removed excess seats and bought a set of rear doors from a wrecked SRT4 and gutted those leaving the OEM doors intact for future use. The excess weight was in the form of seats, carpet, trim and the sunroof. For the sunroof we made a custom fiberglass replacement which of course dropped about 25 lbs of weight from the highest point of the car. The car is now back in full street trim and only lacks A/C to make it a solid daily driver capable car.
6) Do you have any dataloggers on your car for track time, or other inputs? If so, what are your highest G forces exerted?
We utilize a TraqMate data logger on the car for all track events. This gives us the ability to overlay the acquired data onto the videos we produce and load onto the “ModernSRT4″ YouTube channel. Most track events yield a max “sustained” figure of between 1.5 and 1.75G’s both left/right and braking, there are however recorded instances of ~3.5G’s.
7) What are some interesting things other racers have said to you about your FWD car kicking so many RWD cars butts?
The FWD aspect of the car is what makes it really unique at most track events. There have only been a few FWD builds (of any make) that are as aggressive (or more so) than the MPx SRT4. Most people tend to think that it must have been converted to AWD to be able to handle and accelerate like it does and the really funny ones are typically the Porsche owners who don’t even know what kind of car it is and are really floored when I tell them it’s a FWD Dodge Neon (economy car) that just waxed their P-car on the track.
8) Any unusual or fun experiences while driving to the track, or during setup/tuning of your car?
I think the funniest thing about driving this car on the streets again, now that it is in full street-trim again for the Optima series, is how FEW people ever try to rev at me or want to race. While I truly have NEVER raced the car on the street, I hear LOTS of stories of people who are being revved at constantly by people wanting to race them, and I find it hilarious that it never happens to me. Maybe somehow they just KNOW better than to try! I also really enjoy all the people who come up the car at a gas station when I am transporting it to a race and they want to know if it’s a drift car.
9) Have you had any parts break or fail on the track?
We have had MANY-MANY parts fail on the track. Everything from axle boots to entire engines, it is always a challenge to build a very fast and powerful car that is going to be reliable for long periods of time. We have broken 4 OEM input shafts, stripped about a dozen transmission gears, grenaded 3 OEM short-blocks and even broken a crankshaft clean in two. We have cracked brake rotors in half and experienced Stage3 turbo failures. But of all the failures, the most epic to date happened just a few weeks ago. While racing in California to secure the Optima GTL Class Championship (which we DID!!!) we experienced a complete failure of the drives side rear spindle while maneuvering through a sharp right hand turn, the spindle broke off cleanly and shortly thereafter the entire wheel assembly ejected itself from the speeding car as we transitioned through the left hander that followed. The tire, wheel, brake rotor and hub were all still firmly joined, but no longer on the car. “Luckily” the car is so nose-heavy I was able to safely drive off the course (with zero additional damage) and behind a concrete barrier to prevent the yellow flag from being thrown on the course. The wayward tire even followed me off-track and came to rest harmlessly, out of the way, and was retrieved just moments after coming to a stop against the safety barrier.
(The picture above is a rear knuckle that has sheared off. Think of the forces required to break clean a knuckle!!)