[ originally published 10/12/09 | updated 10/12/17]
Sympathy for the devil.
Lemme tell you about my friend Dino, aka DarkOne.
When I launched Gearbox Magazine back in 2009, Dino was the first person I sought out for an interview. He ran the forum that taught me pretty much everything I know about cars and automotive performance—and became family over the years—2GNT.com.
He was the all-powerful forum Ubermensch when I first signed up.
DarkOne. He who was not to be fucked with (if you wanted to retain access to the absolute, hands-down, best source of technical information and community for your 2GNT DSM). He knew everything there was to know about everything related to the cars and to the community.
He was the cool guy at the center of all the excitement when I made my first trip to Norwalk, Ohio, for the Buschur Racing DSM Shootout in 2004 or 2005 and everything I knew about being “ a car guy” changed forever. He’s still the cool guy at the center of everything when we descend upon Norwalk for our (semi-)annual family reunion (read: drunk).
He’s still the cool guy at the center of everything when we descend upon Norwalk for our (semi-)annual family reunion (read: drunk).
Dino was at my wedding in Vegas in 2007. I was at his in Houston in 2009.
We’ve both got kids now. They’re little people. It’s crazy.
The devil made me do it.
Dino’s contributions to 2GNT got me started down the path to being the gearhead I am today. And his giving me the interview back in 2009 got me started down the path to being the publisher I am today.
He is the darkest, most metal DSMer I’ve ever met.
He is the devil that made me do it.
He is one of my best friends.
This one, my fellow gearheads, is important. Dino isn’t “just” a cool gearhead I found online somewhere. He’s a long time friend. Someone I’ve been able to count on for almost 20 years.
He’s the real deal.
Way back in September of 1996, I bought a base model, 1997 Eagle Talon. By 1999, I was sneaking into an unused office in the engineering department at work to surf the internet for performance ideas and technical how-to on my lunch break. It wasn’t long before I found 2GNT.com.
2GNT was started by Juan Laguna, but it wasn’t long before a very eager young man from Houston, Texas, proved himself worthy of taking the wheel. That young man was Dino Yancy.
Asked how this came to be, Juan said,
[I] remember it was more apparent I couldn’t dedicate as much time to site/community building because of my work commitments—I definitely felt I was letting people down. I had a lot of ideas and directions to go, but not the capacity to follow through with many of them.
If I remember correctly, Dino contacted me directly and asked if there was any way he could help. He indicated he was very technically capable in areas that would be of great use for the site. I think I’d moved beyond hand-coded HTML (literally—I did a lot of the initial work in Notepad or whatever the equivalent was at the time), and was able to get the original board software up and running.
After a while, things were growing, [and] the people-managing side of the community was getting to be too much, so having moderators coming on board was a massive help. As Dino picked up more and more of the load—and did it so well—it was a huge weight off my shoulders. I knew things were going to be ok.
Funny, what just popped into my head was the avatar he used at the time—some guy named ‘Dimebag Darrell’—someone I have to say I knew nothing about, but who seemed perfectly fitting.”
Ever since, Dino’s been known, among the DSM old school, by his screen name—DarkOne. They know who he is partly because he’s “the guy who runs 2GNT,” partly because he knows his shit better than most, and partly because of “Big Evil,” his 1995 Eclipse, affectionately referred to as “Big E.”
Dino bought Big E in May of 1999. “At first, I was attracted to the look of the car more than anything. A shiny, smooth black Eclipse is a sight to behold. While it’s no longer shiny or necessarily smooth, I still find myself staring at it when no one else is around.”
Big E is a monster. Not necessarily in the sense of today’s 1,000-horsepower-plus beasts, but in the classic, hometown hero, underdog kinda way. Big E was pushing 400whp back when most 2GNTs were pushing 250 (and 4G63s were pushing 600).
2GNTers have always been limited by the aftermarket. Where the factory turbo guys enjoyed a mature, global aftermarket full of bolt-on performance upgrades—because the 4G63T was used in the Starion, Galant, and Lancer Evolution overseas for years before the DSM even existed—the 2GNT crowd got the short end of the stick due to its relatively brand new, and pedestrian, Chrysler 420A.
In 2006, Dino drove Big E all the way from Houston to Norwalk for the Shootout. He threw Aaron Stanley and I the keys for a blast around the block—then he laughed when I couldn’t figure out how to start it. 10 minutes later, we entered a quiet industrial park and got our first taste of high-horsepower 2GNT.
I grabbed second gear and Big E melted our faces with boost. Remember that scene in Raiders of the Lost Ark when they open the Ark? Yeah. It was like that—only we had to keep our eyes open.
But that wasn’t even the best part. Friend, I shit you not, Big E just started playing Slayer’s “Angel of Death” in that moment which, if you didn’t already know, begins with what is probably the most infamous scream in all of death metal.
My disembodied soul still wanders that industrial park on summer nights, sometimes changing letters around on signage resulting in conversations with Norwalk’s Finest.
But back to Dino.
Dino’s best stories all seem to involve breaking the car.
Losing a trans nearly 1,000 miles from home [Houston] driving back from DSM Shootout ’06 was a treat, as was completely annihilating [my] last 2.0L on the dyno back in ’03. (Or was it ’04?) [Either way, we all felt bad crowdfunding that dyno time for your birthday that year, brother. – BD]
Installing the turbo kit in the 30° rain over my Xmas break in ’00 was an experience I’ll never forget.
There was the realization I could fix just about anything, when I burned through a 10ga wire feeding my fuel pump and re-wired the car on the side of the road.
Why do all my good stories involve breaking the car?”
My interviews were pretty formulaic in the early days. I asked D about his goals and plans.
Goals: 2009 Edition
At this point, my goals have become somewhat ambiguous. Truthfully, I’d just like to be able to drive the car reliably and regularly—instead of having it sit for weeks on end in my driveway, garage, or on the curb in front of the house.
As far as achieving that goal… I’m not sure. I need to get back into the engine bay and go through the wiring and drivetrain, fix a few small leaks, do a lot of cleanup. It may very well be another year before any of this is done.”
What’s Next? (2009 Edition)
I’ve been building it a long-term home these last few months, so I have a place to work on it and store it away from the elements. Now that the garage is close to where I want it, the next step for Big E will be to move in, and I’ll start going through it, probably with the engine on a stand out of the car. Timing maintenance on a 2.4L block is nigh impossible with the engine in the car.”
2017: Goals & What’s Next
When asked for updates, brother Dino told me:
There’s nothing to tell. Big E is still sitting. My oldest kid is seven now. I stare at the car a lot. I’ve also acquired two more 2GNTs since last time. And an Evo [X].”
What’s next? Stare at it some more. Figure out how I can take it to a chassis shop and pay someone else to do the whole thing for me. I lack both time and expertise, and I’m too old and too experienced to want to wing it and make shit up as I go.”
Getting back to the original interview…
Who has helped you the most along the way?
The entire community at 2GNT.com has been such a huge part of my life and relationship with my car over the years, I don’t even know where to start as far as naming names. If I had to pick just one person from the site that’s helped me the most, it’d probably be Thura. He’s always been willing to help me wrench, help me fix anything, sell me (or “loan” me) his parts [ or the whole car ], he’s a great friend and always a huge help.”
[ Thura, you’re on my list. – BD ]
Who do you look up to in the Mitsubishi community?
The guys that are doing everything I ever wanted to and couldn’t or didn’t—Mark Bullet with his NA 2GNT, his high-horsepower turbo. Terry with his awesome fab skills and beautiful work on everything he does. Doug with all the work he’s done for the platform. All the guys making more power and going faster than I am.”
The most metal DSMer I’ve ever met
On the surface, most people see a hard-rocking metalhead. They see the black t-shirts emblazoned with logos for scary bands they’ve never heard of (many of which make Pantera seem like Michael Bolton). And if they’ve been around long enough, they’ve seen one of the scariest, no-bullshit 2GNT DSMs to ever exist in several states of performance and disarray.
Those of us who know Dino, though, know the family man. We know he has no patience for drama, but seemingly endless patience for helping his family (gearhead and otherwise) get through any struggle.
2GNT may have been the brainchild of Juan Laguna, but Dino fostered that idea as his own for nearly two decades. He made the tech easy to find and use. He assumed the role of ringleader for a rag-tag bunch of gearheads who, for whatever reason, found themselves driving the “wrong” models.
I’ve known him almost 20 years, now. We’ve been through some deep, dark shit. We’ve spent far more time staring at our vehicles than we’d like. And our lives beyond cars bring new challenges daily.
Once a DSMer. Always a DSMer. But 2GNTer first.
When Dino gets all the seals re-opened and summons Big E from its decade of downtime, we’re gonna see some serious shit.