[ originally published 06/30/10 | updated 02/15/18 ]
[ 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. [Read more…]
First things first.
While DSMs are—absolutely—known for their turbocharged, all-wheel-drive reputation, that does NOT mean any Mitsubishi-made car from the 90s available turbocharged with all-wheel-drive is a DSM. [Read more…]
I have a new truck. I’m calling him Fezzik. A little over a week in, I’m surprised I’m not in a padded cell yet. Here’s what happened.
I haven’t been to Norwalk in 2+ years. Not really into drag racing, I don’t really miss the racing. I miss my friends. They’re the real reason I spend over $1,000 on hotel, airfare, and drunken debauchery in a sleepy, Ohio bedroom community.
Since 2003 or 2004, I’ve only missed the Shootout three times. The first was because I was stuck working at Enterprise Wreck-a-Life, and I’ll never forget the hot summer day I spent washing stripped down, GM fleet turds behind a derelict, Mesa shanty in a shirt and tie before being forced to attend an immediately-after-work happy hour with the guys from the local Chevy dealership who sent us 90% of our business instead of hopping a plane to Chicago or Indy or such to catch a ride with a DSM brother. [Read more…]
COMING UP IN 1.06 | Master Yoda said, “Fear leads to anger. Anger leads to hate. Hate leads to suffering.” If you’ve ever had a vehicle totaled in an accident, you can see how it can quickly lead to the Dark Side.
You pure, straight hate the other guy. You’re furious at how your hopes and dreams have been hobbled in an instant by some inattentive ass completely undeserving of a license. You want that person to suffer. Even years later, it’s easy to channel the negative energy, tapping into for the right words to introduce a story preview on the website.
Being gearheads, many of us swallow the sadness, relegate once prized possessions to mere scrap heaps, buy them back from the insurance [Read more…]
These days, pretty much everyone is online all the time. Social media and smart phones have put a fire hose of information in the palms of our hands 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. To that end, most of the people we’ve interviewed over the years are people we’ve found online; sometimes Facebook, sometimes Twitter, but mostly on discussion forums. Which makes Darren Thomas stand out in my mind.
Three years ago, we heard about this guy out of Oklahoma who was rocking it in the Import Face-Off series. Trouble was, he didn’t do forums. In fact, he didn’t really do much online at all. We spoke with him via his girlfriend Giovannia, who got us the answers to our questions.
After three years, I wondered if I still had a good email address for Giovannia, Darren’s girlfriend. Would they still be together? Would I be able to do a follow up story? Why didn’t I think of this follow up idea sooner?
GOOD NEWS! STILL RACING!
Fortunately, Giovannia and Darren are still together, still racing, and still staying off the forums. I asked what they’ve been up to. “The last three years have been mixed with busy times and slow times. In 2009, we closed out the season with another Import Face-Off National Championship. That made us the 2008 and 2009 national points champion and we were pretty excited to take another win home.”
2010 found them expecting a baby girl, so they decided to stay close to home. Though they didn’t travel to any races, they did make a point of getting out to the local track to play around in test-and-tune. The goal for the year was to put the race car on a diet and shed as much weight as they possibly could. “We were able to lose a total of 350 pounds of unnecessary weight by cutting at the front end and even gutting out the doors and losing random bolts that served no purpose.”
GIMME FUEL. GIMME FIRE.
“The 2011 and 2012 seasons were by far our busiest years in regards to build work. We decided we had hit the limit on E-85 and made the switch to VP Import because it helped with the longevity of our motors and was more consistent.” They also upgraded the fuel system, as they maxed out the eight (that’s right – eight) 1600CC injectors fueling that beast.
In pursuit of new personal bests, they decided to build a second fuel system from the ground up. Methanol. This was a whole new setup for the car, designed around breaking records. Early in 2012, the team attended a Texas Import Face-Off event, where all that time and effort finally paid off. Darren turned out a new personal best – 8.78 @ 155 MPH.
Today, Darren and team are buttoning up a bunch of smaller items in preparation for the 2013 race season. That huge front mount intercooler has become a restriction, so it’s getting replaced. They’re also making too much power for the current stall converter, so that’s getting upgraded as well. And, since it’s been three years, they’re also updating all their safety gear to comply with NHRA regulations. Nice to hear about a team racing the same car long enough to need the safety updates.
“For the immediate season, we plan on racing any events we may find that have a class we fit into, no matter how far we have to travel.” No matter how far away? That’s a pretty lofty goal! I asked Giovannia how they’re planning to make that happen and, realistically, how far away is “too far away.”
“Traveling outside of what we call our local area is something we’re really looking forward to. In the past, we have taken on 21-hour trips to get to a race. Unfortunately, sometimes we had few racers in our class and, while the trip was an experience and fun for us, it was difficult to race. This season, we hope that our fans and friends will help us by passing along info about any races in the country we should attend.”
“Realistically, well, we don’t really think realistically. We just get up and go because we want to race. We don’t ever think about how far it may be away from us – only about the trip and the experience.” When I asked if they might make it out my way, to Phoenix, Giovannia told me, “If any races do come up for us in Phoenix, we might just make the trip. We went and raced there in 2008 and 2009 and wow, let me tell you y’all have a lot of dirt there!!”
Definitely a lot of dirt here in Arizona! Darren, Giovannia, and the entire Abel Racing team are also going to be out on the Import Face-Off circuit again this year, aiming to reclaim their National Champion title. If they’ve got any downtime during the season, rest assured they’re going to be playing with methanol. They want to break the 8.20-second AWD (all-wheel drive) automatic DSM record before they start playing with – and testing the limits of – a new project vehicle.
A NEW PROJECT?
Maybe it’s a bit early to be asking this, but what might Darren’s next race car be? Have they decided yet? “We really don’t have anything laid out specifically for a future build. We usually sit around and daydream about what we would like to do. So far, the only things we do know we would like to do are something with a V8 and make it rear wheel drive.”
KEEPING IN TOUCH
Gearbox Magazine is going to do a better job in the future of keeping in touch with the people and stories that mean the most to us. This is one of those stories. Our reminder is set. We’ll be checking back in with Darren and Giovannia again in a few months. Will Darren be online then? I wouldn’t count on it, but I know it’s only a matter of time before that AWD automatic DSM record falls.
This is going fast with class and pressing on regardless.
Working on your own car is a great way to save a little money. Racing your own car is a great way to spend a LOT of money. We’ve all seen stories about people who’ve spent crazy amounts of money to get the right look or shave precious tenths off their times. Here’s a story about a guy who’s doing what many of us thought was impossible. He’s racing on a shoestring budget. [Read more…]
I think I speak for all of us who, for whatever reason, could not make it to Norwalk to party with you at the DSM/EVO Shootout when I say, go fast with class and the only way you’re getting free donuts at the All American Inn is is you stay up all night drinking. [Read more…]
We all have our favorite car (or truck or bike) events we return to year after year. A big part of why we attend those events is the machines. As gearheads, we love checking out the hardware, don’t we? We put in extra time and energy to make sure our vehicles are at their best because we know our brothers and sisters will be looking to them for ideas just like we’ll be looking at theirs.
The machines bring us together – across the street, across town, across the globe. [Read more…]
Over the course of the last two years, I toyed with the idea of possibly going back to Germany to attend ElbeTreffen. Sometime after the DSM Shootout last summer, I decided we had to make it happen and started planning in earnest. Plane tickets to Germany in the prime tourism season (summer) were crazy expensive, but I discovered we could save nearly US$1000 by flying into London. I’ve never been to the UK.
The GBXM World Tour 2012 began to take shape. [Read more…]
500 miles from home, in an arid valley on the outskirts of Death Valley, with only the Joshua Trees and insects to keep me company, I found myself in a different state of mind. It was one of those rare moments of zen. Enlightened, I quickly grabbed the notebook from my backpack and began frantically scribbling the words you’re about to read.
Here at Gearbox Magazine, we believe the things we have in common as gearheads are what empowers us to make the most from our differences. We tend to stick to our own kind – platforms, we’re all specialists, after all – but I wanted to see how our perspectives looked when taken to task. Since I cut my teeth in the DSM community, I decided to see how three DSMers in three different communities would answer the same question. [Read more…]
Once upon a time, my friend Kamil Kaluski, a true gearhead, found himself staring down the barrel of fatherhood. He was living and working in downtown Boston and, without a proper house, garage, and three never-ending projects, he created a website as an outlet for his automotive passion. That website was called CarGuyDad. He’s since moved on to help run Hooniverse, but the term “Car Guy Dad” has always resonated with me.
It’s a totally tubular, 1400hp, RWD DSM dragster. Brent Rau’s “OSO Fast” car. I remember seeing this car run at the DSM Shootout a few years back. Ridiculous. And now it can be YOURS! [Read more…]
When it comes to forced induction, it’s not uncommon to find a lot of either-or thinking. You can have top end power OR low end torque. You can have quick spool-up OR gratuitous CFMs. Ray Peters tends to think in terms of AND. As in, you can increase displacement AND run a big turbo AND supercharge AND you can daily drive it. [Read more…]
This weekend, we’re in Prescott, Arizona, USA, attending the Prescott Rally, part of the USRC championship. We’re posting pictures to our Gearheads-United Tumblr (GU+) outpost until the battery on the Blackberry dies (which it did about an hour ago). [Read more…]
Why do we watch certain movies more than others? Being gearheads, I think it’s because there are certain films we see ourselves in more than others. This list is hardly authoritative, but I’d like to know if you see agree with this list and why you think it is – or is not – a top 10 movie for gearheads. [Read more…]
Every year we go to the DSM/EVO Shootout, my wife likes to snap pictures of all the personalized (vanity) license plates on the cars around town and track. It’s not uncommon to come across a thread on your favorite forum where someone is asking for feedback on their own vanity plate ideas, we thought these would be worth sharing. [Read more…]