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1990 LX Hatch Jason Hoots: Driven by Adversity
Jason Hoots and fiancee, Kim Skidmore, didn't give up in the face of adversity
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What trials and tribulations have you gone through on your way to realizing your performance goals? Have you had engine troubles, transmission relia-bility issues, broken axles, or a multitude of blown head gaskets? These misfortunes have spelled the end of many a racing career before it even gets off the ground. Some people grow tired of the mechanical headaches and pack it in, giving up in the face of enormous pressure to win.
Such setbacks can wreak havoc on a budding racing career. But changing head gaskets can't compare to the tragedy of burying your own son. That's exactly what befell Jason Hoots and his fiancee, Kim Skidmore, before Jason made the rise to NMRA Real Street stardom. The passing of their 9-month-old son, Stephen Alexander, led Jason and Kim to transfer Stephen's courage to their own lives.
Jason's performance story began when he was 16 and the owner of a &'65 Mustang with a warmed-up 289. "That car gave me the fever for speed," he says. After earning his high school diploma in 1996, he graduated to the '90 LX hatch seen here. "I began working on the car several months after I got it. I met Mark Ray at Carolina Mustang when he ran their Charlotte branch. I then followed him when he went out on his own and began Mark Ray Motorsports." Through this affiliation, Jason met Dan Jaynes (Renegade racer) and Duane Busch (Hot Street). Dan raced in the Trophy Stock ranks at the time.
Jason modified his car with a Trophy Stock slant. First on the docket was the addition of 3.73 gears. "The car really picked up," Jason says. At this time, Kim bought Jason long-tube headers, a Dr. Gas X-pipe, and Flowmaster two-chamber mufflers (now that's love). "With this and a pair of 26x8.5 slicks, the car went 12.99 at 102 mph and I was on a roll," Jason says.
However, the wheels fell off in November 1998 when it was discovered the couple's newborn son was missing a large part of his intestines. Doctors operated on Stephen Alexander Hoots and connected the parts of intestines he did have. "We were told he would never be able to eat solid food," Jason says, "and that he would probably not make it very long. But to everyone's surprise he fought on, and they let us bring him home at three weeks." Little Stevie received nourishment via a tube inserted in his chest that connected to a portable pump. The bag of solution carried a 24-hour supply of food. Stevie was then put on a list of donors because the solution being used to feed him would eventually damage his liver if used for an extended period. But in September 1999, at the age of 9 months, Stevie passed away from complications caused by not being able to eat normally.
"Needless to say, the car was not at the top of our priority list at this time" Jason says. "In fact, the car sat for 95 percent of that time." In an effort to keep their minds off their tremendous loss, the couple poured themselves into getting the car in fighting form.
Duane Busch ported the stock heads, while Jason added a Trick Flow intake and a Comp Cams grind. In this form the car laid down an 11.59 at 116 mph and made 335 hp at the wheels.
With the powerplant in top shape, Jason set out to wake up the car's exterior by adding a five-lug conversion with Weld Pro Star wheels (although he has replaced them with Bogart Drag Stars) at the corners and a Kaenan 4-inch cowl hood. In 1999, he bolted on the hood two days before Christmas. On Christmas day, Jason was on his way to a family get-together when the hood suddenly became dislodged and flew up, damaging the cowl and windshield. Even with this slight damage, the insurance company ended up totaling the car. Jason bought it back and added a new windshield and hood hinges to make it driveable again.
He also added a CompuCar wet nitrous system. The one time Jason sprayed the juice (he must be related to Tech Editor Houlahan), the car blasted out a 10.97 at 125 mph and a head gasket on the same run. It was more of the same for the next few months, with Jason experiencing more head gasket troubles. He even blew off the intake when he accidentally went from Third gear to Second (that sounds like Editor Turner). To keep it from happening again, he replaced the T5 with a C4 with the same engine combo. The car went 6.93 in the eighth on just a 125 shot.
Just when Jason was ready to get really serious and go way fast, he saw the rules for the new NMRA Real Street class. The introduction of this class stopped him in his tracks. He almost put Kim's LX coupe into action, but instead decided to go with his own car, as it was totaled anyway.
Since he already owned a Vortech V1 S-Trim supercharger, Jason knew which direction to take. He thought about staying with the nitrous, but his inconsistency with the juice led him to choose the blower. He purchased a pair of Trick Flow Twisted Wedge heads, installed a stock 5.0 cam, reinstalled the T5 transmission, and utilized his tried-and-true Trick Flow Street intake. Just before last year's NMRA Orlando opener, Jason took the car to Precision Dyno in Belmont, North Carolina. He thought the combo would be good for around 430 hp at the wheels. "Boy, was I wrong," he says. On its second dyno run, the car made 500.4 hp at the wheels at 6,000 rpm and with his 55-lb/hr injectors at 99-percent-duty cycle. That figure was made with no tuning whatsoever. Happy with the numbers, he headed to Orlando to do battle.
Although Jason had problems at Orlando with the stock T5, he still finished runner-up to Jarad Large. He put another T5 in it for the next race at Reynolds, where he qualified second with an 11.00 at 124 mph. Ed Curtis ended Jason's weekend prematurely in the semifinals.
After Reynolds, Jason installed a full fuel system using a Vortech pump and filter and new lines from the tank to the Vortech fuel rails. During the year, he also added a pro-shifted TTC 3550 transmission. All in all, he had a good year in Real Street. He finished up the year fifth in points.
Jason would be remiss not to thank those who helped him in his Real Street journey. They include Duane Busch, Dan Jaynes, and Mark Ray. He is also grateful for his parents' help, especially for "the use of Mom's spot in the garage." He adds, "I would like to give a very special thanks to my fiancee, Kim, who has been there for me through all the tough times we've gone through, for putting up with me constantly working on the car until all hours of the night, and for helping me some of those nights."
Usually, we try to come up with some witty comment to close out each feature. However, we'll give Jason the honors on this one. "I would like to say that I have been inspired to give everything I have got, at anything I do, by my little buddy, Stevie, who will always be in our hearts and in the co-pilot's seat of Real Street car No. 8015."