1961 Dodge Dart Pioneer
Competition # 879
This 61 Dart was the very first car given to the RAMCHARGERS by Dodge as part of their official supper of our racing program. Though it wasn't actually built for us by Dodge, (it was originally destined for a different team for NASCAR use), it was our first Pro car. It was white with light blue, bench interior. Powered by a 413 Long Ram and a manual transmission. Of course, that's when the RAMCHARGERS stepped in to begin working their magic. The Long Ram intake was cut in half and opened up to remove the divider wall from the mid-point of the intake, down to the cylinder heads, thus making it a "Short Ram". It was then welded back together and media blasted to appear to be "as-cast". Dryer-Duct hoses were used to connect the air cleaners to the heater hose inlet area of the firewall, routing cool, low-pressure air into the carburetors.
All of the seats in the car were taken apart, and (with the exception of the driver's seat), every-other row of springs were cut out and removed to save weight. The rear seat crossmember was even removed. This made for a very "saggy" cushion for anyone who had the misfortune of going for a ride in the car. The rest of the interior also went on a severe diet. Cutting away any amount of body sealer and unwanted steel that they could.
The engine block was bored 0.060" over (creating the first ever 426 cubic inch engine). The cylinder heads were treated to some creative port and valve work along with a drastic milling of the deck to get the compression up to a 13.5:1 ratio. Oil ring expanders were also left out to help prevent friction. Though it made incredible power, running over 110 mph in the quarter mile, setup consumed a lot of oil. It was quite common to watch it make a pass, and not be able to see the car at the end of the track, due to all the burning oil smoke bellowing out of the exhaust.
At the end of the 1961 season, Dodge had a new 1962 Dart for the RAMCHARGERS to begin working on for the upcoming 62 race season. So, the 61 car was returned to Chrysler, in exchange. Shortly after, in an attempt to try to sway another driver away from Pontiac, it was given to famed racer Mickey Thompson. It was never seen again.
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