By Ray Alexander
It seemed that the event has grown exponentially; it didn’t, but the Doubletree was filled early. Attendees spilled over into two other hotels. Over 1,200 vehicles were registered for this year’s Springfest, bringing more than 2,000 people. Louisiana was the only state in the southeast with no attendee. I know a guy from Louisiana that runs his SRT8 Charger in Silver State races, doesn’t he have help?
This event is coordinated by the LX Forum through members in Orange County, CA. They do get a lot of help from volunteers but, from what I see, most of the burden of planning is among three people. Everyone does an excellent job but, the three wise men are to be commended. How long/how much effort to erect the dining canopy?
Vendors and other displays move in before 6 am. It goes without saying; none of this would be possible without “Mother Mopar.” The layout is excellent, a corporate village with new vehicles and information releases at one end, and attendee participation and giveaway stuff on the other end. Vendors are along the aisles that people will walk getting between the two major draws.
If this was a car show, a winning car would be identified. It was estimated that more than 900 cars were here, all Mopars. So throwing out Fords, Chevys, and Datsuns gets you nowhere. I am going to give you an opinion and since I am unaccustomed to being paid for my opinion, it is free. The car that struck me as best of show was a black and white Charger with color matched deep dish white wheels (see first photo on page).
I grouped again with SoCal Challengers, who had more than 400 rainbow color vehicles. It would need to be a heavily medicated rainbow to duplicate these colors. Dave McIntosh called the drivers to a meeting near 8 am and soon we were ready to roll. I think it would be fitting and show a touch of class if the National Anthem was played before we went to the cars. I was only challenged once about being in the wrong group. We were requested to not give the Irvine police anything that would cause them and you grief; I got loose only once.
Last year I was hit with an untold number of radar signals, this year I can’t recall one. Usually there are motorcycle police rolling along with cruisers, not this year. My Facebook feed had one good story. A fellow from Utah had lowered his Charger just before coming. On the way down something on the highway broke his exhaust cutout leaving him with one side running open header. A lady with the Irvine Police stopped him. She asked,” Are you here for that big Dodge thing this weekend?” He replied, “Yes.” She said, “I am not going to cite you for all the things I see wrong with your car and enjoy your exhaust all the way back to Utah.”
After completing registration, I decided the only line short enough to tolerate was the test drive. Naturally I chose SRT, which was populated with one Challenger. A breathalyzer test was required. The test drive looked like it was limited to about 20 mph. I do realize there are several reasons why Chrysler does not want anyone to be injured. Since most attendees already own one or more vehicles with power I don’t understand what Chrysler hopes to gain through this agonizingly slow test drive? The entire process was so slow I gave up. I should have chosen the minivan. On the plus side I did meet Tiffy while standing in line.
There was an announcer for these action events who was much in need of an education. Most of his problems were when he was addressing a Challenger that was being accelerated by a lady. The lady competed in a top fuel dragster. I do not doubt the statement. I haven’t made much effort to understand a dragster, but I believe it has one speed and as the tires begin to grip the track more clutches are engaged to promote a degree of tire slip. I don’t intend to drive one, so even if that is wrong it is more than I need to know. The point being no shifting is involved.
The Challenger had a manual transmission. The lady was horrible at shifting; let’s ignore getting off the line. To shift she would come off the accelerator, the front end would nose dive, then disengage the clutch, shift, engage the clutch then accelerate, the nose came up again dreading the next shift. She missed second gear several times.
The announcer said she drives a dragster with over 300 hp, which would make it amazingly weak. The announcer also said the car has cheater slicks. I looked it up and it was a term used in the ’60s for tires with minimal grooves. Technology has improved rubber compounds to the point that today’s fully grooved tire outperforms the old cheater slicks. He addressed the car as being “tricked out.” I never knew what that meant, perhaps hauling too many ladies of the evening?
Like I said earlier, I met Tiffy in line, she lives in Manhattan Beach and has a 2010 Furious Fuchsia Challenger R/T. We got into the typical discussion of R/T versus SRT. Then she came up with some sound logic, “I only had so much money, but would have more to mod it later.” She now has a Kenne Bell on it.
I asked her, “Have you heard of Spankin Time ?”
She replied, “Yes, I went there and they blew me off, so I went somewhere else.”
I checked the paint carefully and commented, “Almost no swirl marks.”
She said, “Yeah I try not to make them.”
This may be a keeper for someone.
In the same vein, a forum admin sent his girlfriend to check out Cam’s car. While she was looking at the car he said, “Do you guys see how she is looking at the car? It is the same way we look at the Corona Girls, I think I will marry her.”
The first car that caught my eye was an SRT8 Charger in a reflective light green owned by Jon Webb. I believed the color would easily show paint defects and I saw none. I had never seen anything that faintly resembled it so I thought it would be expensive. I asked, “How much did the paint job cost?”
He answered, “$30,000, and it took six months.”
I later saw it named Nuclear Green, it had a radioactive symbol on the rear quarter. The color resembled the color of the glowing rivet Homer Simpson chucks when the end-of-shift whistle blows.
Last year Ralph Gilles was trying to calm the crowd, but he had no new meat to throw. He promised that next year would be better. My starting expectations were Barracuda and Hellcat. The Barracuda got postponed well before SF #9. Okay, we still have the Hellcat reveal, most likely in a Challenger.
Ralph starts to talk about how this event grows and once you have attended you want to come back. Then about Chrysler financials, the company is more stable than it has ever been. Next the bad news, what they wanted to show is still about ten weeks away.
He said there were more corporate people here than ever before and he calls them to the front, my guess is more than ten, less than twenty. He then instructs them to take off their clothes. All had on a black shirt with outline of a cat in silver under a top layer. This is the logo for the new product, he wouldn’t say what product.
Hellcat rumors are running rampant. A 6.2 liter engine with a supercharger has been stable for a year or more. Power output will beat a Viper, check. I have seen pictures of a flat topped engine in a Challenger on the Allpar web site. I heard someone speculate that the supercharger was made by Eaton.
Ralph made no promises for next year.
In the middle of the afternoon I was talking to Bill Scharing and suddenly Phil Painter was in my face. Phil owns/presents Mopars at the Strip. He said, “Just for you I scheduled MATS on a different weekend than SpringFest.”
I said, “I really appreciate that and I am already registered.”
Bill wanted to go to MATS but, it is the same weekend as the Mojave Mile. He gave me several flyers to hand out. I gave one to Jon Welfringer and he indicated that Phil had called them to make sure he was scheduling away from Spring Fest. I can almost hear the classic Hemis stutter and see the fenders shake as the tree comes down.
This year is the 100th anniversary for the Dodge automobile and the 50th anniversary for the 426 Hemi engine.
A vendor that makes shifters for the manual transmission had a sign up “Shift our car.” I said shifting without the engine running is hard on the syncros, isn’t it? The senior person answered, “Ten times harder.”
Spankin’ Time was there as a vendor but was virtually invisible to those that do not recognize the cars or drivers. The cars are not going to attract attention in an ocean of SF cars. Modern Mopar magazine knew they were there and interviewed the drivers. A table with a KB blower and sign saying, “We can make this do wonders for your Hemi” would have been better than nothing. ST is doing a great job with social media.
I chatted with Beth Pereta about NASCAR. She informed me that her and Ralph had it set up at one time but, Dodge didn’t want to spend the money. Then went on to say Ralph and I are no longer involved with NASCAR, only with the Viper racing program. I shared my opinion that Dodge is now farther away from getting a NASCAR program together than ever. She agreed with that statement. I can’t envision Dodge jumping in at a level similar to Toyota’s entry.
On a side note Dodge had a hauler at “King of the Hammers” for support of the spec class using a 5.7 Hemi. There were four tires outside that appeared to be road course tires. The hauler that came to SF had four road course tires behind it. I am willing to bet it was the same tires.
Planning for SF #10 has already begun.
Chrysler Heritage • History by Year • Chrysler People and Bios • Corporate Facts and History
Chrysler CEO Al GardnerDefining the Chrysler brand, upcoming cars, and more
Chrysler’s Pete HagenbuchThe tuner of some of Chrysler’s greatest production engines
All Mopar Car and Truck News
FCA at the Eiffels
Chrysler: Port Melbourne