Michael Johnson
Technical Editor
August 1, 2003
Photos By: Steve Turner

"My car started out as what has to be the worst-case four-cylinder car ever," Chris Tuten says. "The only original body parts left are the roof and quarter-panels." With an auto-body background, Chris easily tackled the project by first repairing the body and painting it Royal Blue, then blue with purple and gold pearl, then Candy Orange. "Then I completely stripped the car and redid it in the color it is now," he says. "I raced it for a while with a 306 with an NOS Fogger system and a Powerglide." The coupe then sat while Chris raced other cars for a time. While attending an NMRA race to assist his buddy and Real Street racer Brent Weston with tuning, Chris became hooked. Of course, he was concerned he would be stepping on his buddy's toes, but Brent quickly extinguished that concern.

Chris borrowed his friend Michael Coleman's engine and tranny, swapped it into the car you see here, and went racing. Chris built the engine two years prior and it was a real workhorse, so the guys simply swapped in a stock cam and changed the Edelbrock RPM upper to a Performer upper. "Even though we missed the first two events of 2002, our goal was to finish at least in the 10th spot," Chris says.

Chris raised a few eyebrows at his first Real Street race at Columbus. He qualified in the fifth spot with a 10.57 at 127-mph hit. He also took out Real Street regulars Michael Dezotell and Jim Snoke before falling to eventual runner-up Gabe Large. At the next NMRA race held at Maple Grove, Chris continued his ways by qualifying in the third spot, but a staging error in the first round ended the weekend on a sour note.

Speaking of sour notes, right before the Atco race, Chris busted not one, but two Tremecs in testing. That's when he borrowed a transmission from his friend Lee Huffstetler. Chris made sure to take it easy, and he still qualified well. However, disaster struck in the first round when he windowed the block, destroying just about everything except for the heads and intake.

For the NMRA finals at Beech Bend, Chris borrowed his buddy Jamie's (aka Billy Dee's) short-block, found some power on the dyno, and headed to Bowling Green. The newfound power made getting a decent 60-foot time a little difficult, but Chris managed 10.30s and trap speeds measuring more than 134 mph. At Bowling Green, Chris made it to the third round when the shift light stopped functioning, causing him to over-rev the engine against Jeremy Martorella.

During the winter, Chris focused on the suspension by adding a Wolfe Racecraft antiroll bar, D&D Motorsports upper control arms with adjustable lowers, and 10-inch-wide rear wheels to provide a larger footprint for the 26x10 Mickey Thompson slicks. Chris spent two days figuring out a new set of chassis scales to help set up the chassis.

But Chris' race engine wasn't ready for the NMRA '03 Bradenton opener. What did he do? That's right, he borrowed another engine and made only one qualifying pass. That was all he needed thanks to a 10.24 at 131 mph. However, he commenced to crack that block right down the middle of the lifter valley in the first round. After simply tripping the beams in the second round, Bruce Hemminger offered his back-up engine to Chris. Chris took Bruce up on the offer, but right before his crew had everything put back together, it was discovered the clutch was shredded. The engine went right back to Bruce's trailer.

We think everyone can take a few lessons from Chris' story. Perhaps the most glaring one would be to not let Chris borrow a short-block-but maybe that's just us, and most of ours are busted anyway.

5.0 TECH SPECS
ENGINE AND DRIVETRAIN
Block R302
Bore 4.040
Stroke Stock
Displacement 308 ci
Crank {{{Ford}}} Racing Performance Parts
Rods {{{Eagle}}}
Pistons Ross
Cam Stock
Heads Edelbrock Performer RPM
Intake Edelbrock Performer
Power Adder Nitrous
Throttle Body Edelbrock 70mm
Mass Air Pro-{{{M}}} 80mm
Injectors Lucas
Fuel Pump Holley 255-lph
Headers MAC
Exhaust Bassani X-pipe,DynoMax Bullet mufflers
Transmission Pro-shifted Tremec TKO, Ram clutch and flywheel
Rearend 8.8, Moser 31-spline axles, Ford truck Traction-Lok, FRPP 3.73 gears
Cage Custom 10-point
ELECTRONICS
Engine Management Stock with EPEC
Ignition MSD 7AL
Gauges Stock and Auto Meter
SUSPENSION AND CHASSIS
FRONT SUSPENSION
K-Member D&D Motorsports
Control Arms Stock
Springs/Struts D&D Motorsports coilovers/Strange
Brakes Wilwood
Wheels Bogart
Tires Mickey Thompson Front Runners
REAR SUSPENSION
Springs/Shocks Stock/AFCO
Control Arms D&D Motorsports uppers, adjustable lowers, Wolfe antiroll bar
Brakes Wilwood
Wheels Bogart 15x10
Tires Mickey Thompson