What’s your real name? (What’s your screen name?)
Darren Thomas, I personally do not have a screen name, my girlfriend posts under OKDSMCHICA.
Where do you live?
What do you do for a living?
I am a diesel mechanic for AAR Aircraft Services.
What Mitsubishi do you race (in which series)?
I race a 1990 Eclipse GSX in a series called Import Face Off.
How long have you been racing Mitsubishi(s)?
About 5 years
What got you into Mitsubishi?
I thought they were a great car overall. I liked the body, and thought the motors could be practically bullet proof, if you knew what you were doing.
Got a favorite story to tell about your Mitsubishi?
The first time I ever took this car to the track, it was bone stock with a manual boost controller and a cheap intercooler. I ended running a 12.6 at 108 mph! I was so excited!
What’s the stupidest thing that’s broken (or the stupidest reason why something broke)?
I don’t know if this counts as breaking but there was one race where I was in the final and up against a 12 sec car. Well somehow about 1000 feet off the line a vacuum line popped off completely slowing me down to a crawl and the other car won. It was a pretty stupid thing to happen.
What are your goals for the car and how close are you to achieving them?
My overall goal is to back half the car making it rear wheel drive and run somewhere in the 6 second range.
What was your favorite event? Why?
My favorite event was a local one called Red River Shootout. It was a “TEXAS VS OKLAHOMA” type of rivalry race. I guess the promoters mostly advertised to the muscle car owners because when we pulled up everyone looked at us like we were lost. It ended up being me against Vipers, Mustangs, and Camaros. In the end, no one was really happy that I decided to take on the challenge because I beat most of them.
What’s next for your Mitsubishi? Why?
Next for my car is to try and run 8.50s keeping my stock suspension and drive train. Doing so would put us near or breaking the stock automatic records.
Who has helped you the most along the way?
My friend Andrei owns Abel Racing where he started out working on Mitsubishis. He has really helped me with getting the tune right for my car, and giving me advice along the way. Also our family friend Todd helps me with all my machine work, staying up really late to help me. Not to mention they feed me, since it seems like Im always going non stop!
Who do you look up to in the Mitsubishi community?
Is there a particular shop you’d like to recommend?
I would like to recommend ABEL RACING in Midwest City Ok and T&T Industries in Midwest City Ok.
Do you spend time on any Mitsubishi sites? Which ones? If not, where do you get your tech info?
I actually do not spend anytime on any sites or forums, I find that most of the things people are talking about doing, or actually doing nowadays has been around for awhile. I usually look at the diesel projects I have at work, and think “I can make this work on my car,” and just do it. I’m really not into what everyone else says or does, I just do what I think will work!
Why the automatic transmission and what can you tell us about how you’ve got it handling 700+awhp?
I decided to go with the automatic because it is consistent; you can’t miss any gears. I’ve been able to adjust pressures, installing new clutches, and using a high stall converter.
How do you guys adjust pressures on the auto trans? Are the clutches that are changed out stock or somehow modified?
They are stock ones from NAPA. We up the line pressure and enlarge certain holes in the valve body and transmission. ( I hope this isn’t too vague but we do race competitively, and don’t like to give out really specific info, I’m sure you understand!)
Why do you do it? What’s the best part about racing?
I work on and race the car for the sportsmanship. Getting to meet all the new people at new tracks is always exciting. I like breaking my own boundaries when I race.
What’s the story behind traveling the country and how is it all funded? Sponsors, maybe?
Unfortnatly I do NOT have any sponsorship help funding our travels. It’s solely funded by our full time day jobs. We decided to travel the country in 2008 just for fun, like a mini vacation. As the series decided to start the points chase we went ahead and kept with it knowing there would be a reason besides rest, relaxation, and fun in the end.
What’s the maintenance schedule like?
Well…I can say we have never come home from a race with nothing to fix. So if you look at it, we are fixing something everyday. Its usually small things like rebuilding the transmission every 30 passes or so.
How does the crew help out on the road? At home?
At home my crew takes on different jobs. My girlfriend does all the maintenance and updates to my website. While my dad and I do all the maintaining on the car. My tuner makes sure that everything running smooth. On the road we all take shifts driving to make sure we all get a little bit of sleep. At the races we have pretty much mastered the art of unloading the trailer and setting up. My girlfriend makes sure I’m ready to be teched in with all my gear ready and lets me know exactly how much time we have left between rounds while my dad and I go over the motor and make sure nothing is leaking or broken.
UPDATE: With only one event left in the 2009 season (Import Face Off, San Antonio, TX, December 13th), Darren is currently far enough ahead in the points race, to be all but assured the championship. This will make two consecutive years Darren has won the Import Face Off outright!
For more information about Darren’s race program, visit his website. Plenty of pictures and videos to check out!