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DennisMotorsports
DennisMotorsports New Reader
3/17/15 3:24 p.m.

Hi! I'm David, and I'm an adrenaline addict. I am a third generation racer, and my family is quite well known in the northeast US racing circles (rally, rallycross, hillclimb, etc). I wanted to start documenting some of our racing adventures! We have a facebook page for our race team at www.facebook.com/dennismotorsports.ri We have lots of projects going on and I'll be trying my hardest this year to keep an updated log of some of our current projects, with some of our history mixed in! Here goes:

Some of our racecars:

1982 VW Rabbit Hillclimber-this car was built by Bill Rutan and has a ton of history in the New England Hillclimb Association

1969 Triumph Spitfire. My uncle has owned and been racing this car for longer than I've been alive

Maxed Out. Big Block Mopar stuffed into a bastardized circle track car. Ran hillclimbs from 2005-2012 including Mt Washington in 2011 (pictured). Met it's demise by simultaneously finding a rock ledge and a tree.

Our RWD tube frame Neon thing! It is an SRT-4 powered, mid engine tube frame hillclimb special. It is currently under some serious reconstruction to get it to handle better and turn up the boost!

The engine from the Neon I crashed at a hillclimb at Mt Okemo this year has been swapped into my rally car. We will be running the SCCA Team Oneil RallySprint on May 9th, and I'll be using that car as a hillclimb fill in for the year when nothing else is running :D

I have been building myself a better (than my 2001 V10 Ram that has been rapidly showing signs of living in the northeast for all its life) daily driver/tow vehicle (I have a 2.6 mile commute, so I don't need something real economical for daily use). An 04 Durango in the family that swallowed some water and bent a rod, combined with some internet scouring led to the excellent idea to build a stroker Hemi. The stock 5.7 block was bored .020 over, and the new crank added half an inch of stroke to get 6.4L, the same as the newest (non-Hellcat) SRT8 engines. Should be good for well north of 400 HP and 450 ft/lb. Haven't got it on a dyno yet, but I've been driving it a couple weeks now and for an SUV, it screams! Shamefully, the pretty engine is barely visible under all the plastic crap that had to go back under the hood.

I bought a Subaru from one of my uncles after he ran Mt Washington last July, and it promptly spun a rod bearing after an autocross and a track day. That motor is out now, and will hopefully be at the machine shop soon for a rebuild.

Finally, the Dart. This thing is still kicking ass and taking names. Last hillclimb it ran was May Ascutney 2011 (exactly 10 years after it debuted at a NEHA) where it tore the input shaft to pieces. I put a new transmission in and we brought it to the rallycross at Stafford Speedway in January, blew the slave cylinder apart, and ran for two days using only first gear. High torque starters are awesome!

Video:

https://www.youtube.com/embed/OzG1pqYJqyQ

I also decided I want to see what this drifting stuff is all about, so last weekend, we fixed the clutch, installed a new hydro e-brake, and a passenger seat. We will be at NHMS with Clubloose North on April 4th!

That's all for now, and like I said, I'm hoping I can keep this log going for this year, and the future!

Bubs
Bubs New Reader
3/18/15 7:06 a.m.

Good to see you on here, David!

Just a heads-up, at least on my end it looks like a lot of your pictures aren't coming through. It may depend on where you're hosting them, I had a lot of the pictures in my thread disappear and I had to track them down elsewhere and reupload them on Photobucket.

RossD
RossD PowerDork
3/18/15 7:25 a.m.

Welcome! (I only see the Rabbit and the rear end of a Neon)

DennisMotorsports
DennisMotorsports New Reader
3/18/15 9:00 a.m.

Thanks for the heads up guys. I think the way google drive stores stuff makes it only temporary. I'll see if I can get them fixed quickly haha Edit: how's it look now?

mazdeuce
mazdeuce PowerDork
3/18/15 9:53 a.m.

They're all there for me now. I like how you guys play. The Dart is all kinds of Mad Max awesomeness.

DennisMotorsports
DennisMotorsports New Reader
3/18/15 10:16 a.m.
mazdeuce wrote: They're all there for me now. I like how you guys play. The Dart is all kinds of Mad Max awesomeness.

Awesome! And thanks, it is always a crowd pleaser!

DaveEstey
DaveEstey PowerDork
3/18/15 10:17 a.m.

haha and the can of Carling Black Label to top it off

sethmeister4
sethmeister4 Dork
3/18/15 11:29 a.m.

Wow, some crazy stuff! I expected your name to be Dennis, though.

Bubs
Bubs New Reader
3/18/15 11:44 a.m.

All fixed now, David! Great start for your thread and once again, it's great to see more of my NER racing friends getting on GRM!


I'll also mention here that David is an excellent welder / fabricator / engineer and built the roll-cage in my Stage Rally project SE-R.

Acme Lab Rat
Acme Lab Rat New Reader
3/18/15 12:51 p.m.
DennisMotorsports wrote:  photo IMG_2808.jpg

This...this is the best thing in the world.

DennisMotorsports
DennisMotorsports New Reader
3/18/15 1:18 p.m.
paddylopez wrote: This...this is the best thing in the world.

Thanks! Hahaha. It was some of the best fun I've ever had in a car.

Bubs wrote: I'll also mention here that David is an excellent welder / fabricator / engineer and built the roll-cage in my Stage Rally project SE-R.

Glad to help a fellow racer follow his dreams!

DaveEstey
DaveEstey PowerDork
3/18/15 6:22 p.m.

Don't forget this Dave:

Not the whole Dennis clan, but still.

bgkast
bgkast UltraDork
3/18/15 7:11 p.m.
DennisMotorsports wrote: Our RWD tube frame Neon thing! It is an SRT-4 powered, mid engine tube frame hillclimb special. It is currently under some serious reconstruction to get it to handle better and turn up the boost!

Freakin sweet. I'm building something similar.

tb
tb HalfDork
3/19/15 8:09 a.m.

Welcome!

I am pretty sure that we have met at some point a few years ago... even though I am horrible with remembering names I definitely recognize that rabbit.

I ran a handful of hill climbs and worked a few too up in New England a couple of years ago in my old eclipse and I miss my old rabbit enough to know that I checked that car out; maybe ascutney or mt. washington...

Anyway, I am glad to see hill climbers sharing with the group and gaining more traction here. I have never had more fun or met a better group of people than I have camping out in the middle of nowhere and hustling up a twisty (dangerous!) mountain road.

DennisMotorsports
DennisMotorsports New Reader
3/19/15 9:57 a.m.

Hey! I'm sure we have met. That rabbit is a piece of engineering artwork. Hope to see you at the hills again sometime! Also, this is exactly why hillclimbs>anything:

tb wrote: I have never had more fun or met a better group of people than I have camping out in the middle of nowhere and hustling up a twisty (dangerous!) mountain road.
DennisMotorsports
DennisMotorsports New Reader
3/19/15 10:03 a.m.
DaveEstey wrote: Don't forget this Dave: Not the whole Dennis clan, but still.

Yes, the other Mad Max! Five Daves and a Mike decided it was a good idea to put a Datsun inline 6 from a '7(something) 280Z into a mustang, paint it black and go lemons racing. We even got a trophy for the most highly unrecognizable movie car! (though our costumes made up for it)

DennisMotorsports
DennisMotorsports New Reader
3/23/15 9:54 a.m.

Stopped by my cousin's house to check out the progress on the tube frame car. It is very disassembled.

The car originally had a neon front end in the back, but stock neon suspension was not conducive to tune-ability and the strut suspension was not ideal. New plan is to use this RX7 rear, and make custom axles.

The head was removed for a rebuild, and a port match. Back story: I decided I was a professional tuner and when we originally got the car running, I had mistakenly installed an e85 base tune. Three runs at a hillclimb later, and suddenly the spark plugs melted! If I can find the picture, I'll post that here. I left the mountain at 8pm, and while my cousin started pulling the head off, I drove 4 hours home from Vermont to RI, pulled the head off my daily driver with 150k+ miles on it, and drove back. I showed back up at the mountain around 6 am and went to sleep while my cousin put the "new" head on. Before the end of the day, we got it started and drove it onto the trailer-at some point we realized why this happened and decided to have it tuned properly before racing it again. After tuning, the car ran almost a full season of hillclimbing before being parked again. So the rebuild was much needed.

Instead of spending every penny on the tube frame car, he decided to buy this!:

I also got an awesome deal on a set of 17" wheels for the Dart over the weekend. It is much easier to find tires that are good for drifting in a 17" size than a 15" with a tall enough sidewall to fit the Dart.

DennisMotorsports
DennisMotorsports New Reader
5/13/15 10:29 a.m.

A lot has happened since the last update. Still working on video from the drift event but here's a little more on it: After being rescheduled 3 times due to an extended winter in New England, the first Clubloose North drift event was held on April 18th. As promised, we brought the Dart. It was certainly not the most suitable vehicle, but it is RWD, it's loud, and it's bad, so it's okay! I missed the first session due to the alternator dying first thing in the morning, but one great thing about old, massed produced cars is that the parts store down the road had one in stock for $50! So with a new alternator in, I made the second session, and it was as silly and awesome as I could have hoped. The car was running a little warm, so we took off the sheet plastic nose cone, and the Mad Max effect doubled. Something in the suspension started bending during the third session, and got worse and worse, so I called it quits after that.

Even though I only ran in two of the 4 sessions, I got a ton of seat time for the cost of entry. The guys at Clubloose North are awesome! Everyone went out of their way to ask how I was doing (this was my first attempt at drifting) and very encouraging! Oh and if you are from New England (or not), you like camping, bonfires, and partying to go along with burning tires and bouncing rev limiters, I highly suggest making it to a CLN event this summer!

Once the steering is straightened out, we will definitely bring the Dart back for another go, hopefully with a little better setup! Although it was great to see guys' faces when I told them that yes, it does have leaf springs in the back (and torsion bars up front)! I'm also hoping to make it to the Burke Hillclimb, and maybe even get my dad to co-drive with me.

Next: Josh brought the shifter kart up to NHMS for a test session. He said it was 11/10 on the fun scale. Josh let Alex (of Philo Hillclimb Daewoo challenge fame) take it for a run, and he threw on a go pro:

https://www.youtube.com/embed/gFoMFGKeiKw

Then came the RallySprint. SCCA hasn't been involved in stage rally since 2004. Last weekend they ran the first RallySprint since then. Organized and chaired by Scott Beliveau, this event couldn't have gone any better. 26 entries got 7 runs, 4 in the morning on a 1.9 mile stage, and 3 in the afternoon on a just under 3 mile stage. Josh and I both drove (the nature of the rallysprint allows double drivers, like hillclimbs) and were putting up some top times in 2WD before the computer in the Neon died. Josh missed 2 and I missed 1 run before we finally figured out what was wrong and swapped in a spare computer. Our stage times would have put us in 2nd and 3rd in 2WD if we hadn't had issues. Videos of this coming soon! For now, have some pictures:

Thanks RHPhotography!

Thanks Wyatt Knox!

DennisMotorsports
DennisMotorsports New Reader
8/4/15 5:06 p.m.

Been a while since any update. I did get some video uploaded of the RallySprint:

AM course: https://www.youtube.com/embed/yQlTEY2f0DE

PM course: https://www.youtube.com/embed/dUh_hIryrIE

Then I ran the Dart at the Mt Burke Hillclimb back in June. I was having trouble with the transmission-second gear doesn't seem to have any synchro left (perhaps from trying to shift with no clutch at Stafford ).

Video: https://www.youtube.com/embed/j5REiLD1bGY

I finally convinced my dad to get back in the driver's seat and we will be double-driving his new SRT4 Neon hillclimb car. I'm almost done caging it, and we will have about a week to finish up the build before the Mt Okemo Hillclimb on August 14-16.

DennisMotorsports
DennisMotorsports New Reader
8/10/15 11:10 a.m.

Got a bunch done this weekend on Dad's new car. Dad finished most of the temporary rewiring, including the kill switch and battery relocation. It started up for the first time since we first tore it apart (much to dad's relief). Meanwhile, I finished the cage:

And welded in some harness attachment points:

Josh just about finished his new car, too, so we will have two new cars to debut next weekend at Okemo. That makes a total of 7 entries in 5 cars for this event!

DennisMotorsports
DennisMotorsports New Reader
8/18/15 3:11 p.m.

So I had a few mechanical failures that made this weekend a bit of a disappointment for me personally, but the goal for the weekend was definitely a success, and that was to get my dad back in a car. He hadn't raced anything in almost 3 years. He was already talking about Ascutney before we left for Okemo.

It was to the surprise of many that all of the Dennis Clan was at the hill by dark on Friday, and all with running cars! Even better, they all drove onto the trailer under their own power (Allan's even towed it's own trailer)! But we each had an issue or two:

Saturday great, and the SRT4 ran better than we could have ever expected for it's first day of hillclimbing. Dad ran a 2:46.29 on his first run in the morning, and followed it up with two more 2:46's that afternoon. It took me a couple runs to get some confidence in the car and myself, as I had never driven this car and my last run at a hillclimb ended rather suddenly. I ended up with a 2:46.12 on my last run Saturday (didn't want to beat dad too bad )

On Sunday, the SRT4's exhaust melted the shifter cable's outer layer, so the cable was just bending instead of pushing the transmission into 2nd or 4th. Dad and I each took our fam run and first run Sunday with no 2nd or 4th gear. During lunch, I found a piece of rod and some hose clamps to hold the cable straight, and that worked for the rest of the day. On my second run, I blew an axle at check 6. After coasting back down the hill, we tag teamed the car to get a new axle in, just in time for dad to be the last car in the run group. On my 3rd run, the car felt down on power, and I noticed boost was slowly dropping. By check 3 I was down to 2 psi, so I pulled off at check 4. Blew a hole in a 90* coupler going into the intercooler. John Hart had some gorilla tape, so I wrapped it up and got it back on, but the day was called just as I was finishing, so I didn't get to make a last run-a little disappointing.

Brian figured out at the end of the day Saturday that he was only at about 75% throttle with the pedal on the floorboard, so he fixed that before running Sunday. Kevin blew the top off a spark plug sometime Saturday, and figured it out on the fam run Sunday morning. A set of plugs from Walter (thanks!) got him running again. Josh and Dan had a smoking issue with the Capri. Still not 100% sure where all the oil is coming from, but a re-routed pcv hose helped a bunch. The car started running on 7 cylinders at the end of Sunday, so that will need to be figured out too. Friday night, we realized the wheel wells were going to cut the tires down on the Capri, so Josh removed them.

Here's some in car from the SRT4: My best run:

https://www.youtube.com/embed/n3PJ57S1-DQ

Dad's best run: https://www.youtube.com/embed/E9IIKhC0t2A

DennisMotorsports
DennisMotorsports New Reader
9/10/15 10:50 a.m.

Dad has been putting in an hour or three every night doing small stuff on the SRT-4. We got a lower hardpipe for the hot side of the intercooler to replace the rubber elbow that blew out on my last run at Okemo (and we think was keeping us a bit down on power all weekend). We had what sounded like a small exhaust leak at Okemo too. That turned out to be the flexible area of the downpipe had blown out completely, which was overheating and boiling our power steering fluid, and burned through the shifter cables. Downpipe was replaced along with the shifter cables. We also have a mechanical boost controller on order to turn up the boost from the stock 14 psi up to about 18-19. The factory turbo isn't happy about anything over 20 psi.

A couple weekends ago, I brought the Dart back to NHMS for another try at drifting. Lack of power steering (or even a steering rack) isn't making it easy. I fought inconsistent electrical issues all day before figuring out the ignition box went bad (likely a result of the faulty alternator that was putting out 20V at Burke). Finally got some seat time, and got to take Dad for a ride-along (the giggles were priceless). I only got to run one day, because right at the end of Saturday, the clutch disc disintegrated. Who would have thought that a 15 year old clutch with 1000+/- of race miles that sat for 5 years at a time would be unhappy with 3rd gear clutch dumps

(photo credit Ashley Brackett)

In the meantime, I've been getting more practice bending and temporarily liquifying steel. I installed a roll bar in a Toyota Starlet this week

DennisMotorsports
DennisMotorsports New Reader
7/21/16 12:35 p.m.

Been a long while since I last updated. And since I'm sitting here at work with a few minutes of downtime, trying to run through my sleep deprived brain everything I still need to do to make it to Burke Mt Hillclimb this weekend, what better way to do so than share!

So the Dart has gone under the knife for major surgery. The idea was to pull the 300,000 mile 318 out and drop the 440 out of my dad's old hillclimber (met its end by finding a space between a rock and a hard place) in. Simple enough.

I had purchased motor mounts with this very project in mind about a year ago, so the 440 went in with no major issues, other than needing to notch the Milidon oil pan a bit to clear the A-body K-frame. We had a set of headers on the shelf from a C or E body, that needed little modification to clear the steering column and firewall. The first major issue I ran into was when I tried to reinstall the torsion bars. Which wanted to go straight through the header collector.

I did the logical thing, and pulled the engine back out, pulled the fenders off the car and started cutting away metal to make a coilover setup.

We had most of the stock car parts I would need, including spindles, control arms, shocks and springs off the aforementioned donor vehicle. I had to cut and sleeve the control arms, but made them work with the factory mounting location, so I was at least relatively close to a geometry that might work.

The $400 plasma cutter I bought on amazon about 6 months ago has been some of the best money I've ever spent.

So I decided two full weeks was way too much time to do an engine swap and build a complete new front suspension, and went to Maine last weekend to crew for a friend at the New England Forest Rally. I caged the car last year, and this was TJ's first full stage rally. He kept the car between the trees which made my job pretty easy. This year, NEFR was a car killer, but the most work I had to do was swap a control arm and strut out during service for a less bent one. TJ and his codriver Erin finished 4th in class and 12th Overall, not bad for a first event!

Even Rally hasn't escaped the hottest new trend

After getting very little sleep all weekend, it was time to get back to not getting any sleep during the week! My cousin Josh came over Tuesday night, and we finished up the suspension, and added an extra bar to the roll cage (after doubling HP and adding homemade suspension, it seemed like a good idea).

We then got the engine back in, and last night I made a mount to install a steering rack out of a Neon

So the mad dash to get the car buttoned up will commence immediately after work today. Hoping to make it to the hill well before dark on Friday (we have a 5ish hour drive there), so in Dennis Time, we might be there and the car might be ready by Saturday morning

DennisMotorsports
DennisMotorsports New Reader
7/26/16 10:02 a.m.

So the weekend did not end up going as hoped. After no sleep for two days and literally working on the car for 30 hours straight (ok so I took one break to go get tires mounted and another to finish a beer while watching the sunrise on Friday), I had to throw in the towel. Dad helped out as well as he could (he only got 3 hours sleep in the same time), and Josh spent a couple hours helping before he started the trip north too, but it was to no avail. At 11:00ish pm on Friday night, with the car sitting on the ground (literally, the frame was scraping the ground) because I didn't have the correct length/rate spring combo on the shelf, we had to call it quits. We thrashed hard, but one too many things went wrong right at the end. That said, the car looks super cool now and if I hadn't tried to make this event, we would likely be a week or two away from the car driving. Now there is an "autocross" this weekend, and I should have time to get it finished up for a good shakedown.

I say "autocross" because it is technically a driver school on an old airstrip at an airforce base. The pavement has seen better days, but the course is a mile long and you can see speeds approaching triple digits in the right car-I was topped out in 4th in my STi. If you are reading this and live in southern New England, check out http://hpds.1adsi.com/

On a side note, Dad and I did end up going to Burke just to hang out and see the hillclimb family. We also stopped on the way up at a yard sale and bought two Green Machines. If you've never ridden one of these, it is probably the scariest 3 wheeled vehicle in the world at 8mph. Great fun though

DennisMotorsports
DennisMotorsports New Reader
8/1/16 2:58 p.m.

So I got the Dart to a point where it could be driven, and brought it to an autocross type event yesterday to test the new suspension. First off, 440 cubic inches creates a lot of power. The straight line acceleration in this car now is insane. The new suspension made the car very... Darty. The camber progression with the new suspension is pretty much where I want it to be, with perhaps a bit less static negative camber. The springs I have in the car now are 500# and way too soft. Thinking I need to be closer to 700#. Along with that, the bump steer is terrible. I need to look into mounting the steering rack either higher or lower (haven't done the math to figure out which yet, or else make spacers for the outer tie rod ends.

Here is a cool video of the suspension: https://www.youtube.com/embed/lrdGbH0ujt8

And a video from inside the car (read: WWE Raw David vs Dart): https://www.youtube.com/embed/-WEyvR4aljM

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