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Chrysler Joins ARCA: Racing Chrysler LeBarons and Setting Speed Records

The speed record

Land vehicle Vehicle Car Coupé Racing

Hemland sent these photos of a former ARCA V8-powered Chrysler LeBaron, which posted a record-setting 194 mph average for the 90 mile run at the Silver State Challenge. These photos were not taken on the day the car set the record, which had been a few years earlier; the owner was planning to beat his record with a Dodge Intrepid.

Land vehicle Vehicle Car Coupé Racing

Ray Alexander had records from the event; the navigator (shown in the photos) was Kala Rounds, and the average speed was 194.3232 mph, with a high trap speed of 210 mph. The provenance of the former ARCA car is unknown, but the body is "stock looking but not stock."

The ARCA races

based on Dave Emaneul's 1989 article in High Performance Mopar

In 1989, Chrysler briefly returned to oval-track racing, using Chrysler LeBarons in Automobile Racing Club of America (ARCA) races. Jerry Churchill fielded a Norm Negre-built LeBaron, with an Arrow Racing Engines 355 cubic inch LA V8 coupled to a GM Super T10 transmission; Mike Powell built a special bellhousing to match the Chrysler block. Louis Duncan' fiberglass front end looked factory-correct, but had much lower drag.

The engine, as it was first set up, had:

  • Mopar Performance race block with Diamond pistons, Carillo rods, Keith Black billet crankshaft
  • W-2 (iron) or W-5 (aluminum) Mopar heads with Mopar Performance intake manifold
  • 2.08" intake, 1.60" exhaust valves
  • Modified Holley carburetor
  • Weaver three-stage dry sump pump

Mopar Performance created many oval-track parts, including the blocks, forged camshafts, iron and aluminum heads, an aluminum intake manifold, special electronic ignition, and dry-sump oil pan.

Churchill was successful in ARCA, and Mopar cars remained through the 1998 season. Mopar driver Roy Payne won rookie of the year and finished in the top ten for points. Bob Keselowski's LeBaron was second in points one year. Roger Blackstock won a number of races in an Avenger. [See the rest of Mopar's ARCA history in our Mopar in ARCA page.]

Chrysler 1904-2018

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