When I first saw this car, I was blown away and I knew I had feature this car as a featured Domestic. I mean how many times do you see Neons being raced competitively these days? This level of build takes exceptional focus, and just like the January ’16 Featured Import, this car also joins the 600hp club. Yep. 600hp. In a Neon. The world is a cool place sometimes.
If you subscribe to Grassroots Motorsports Magazine you’ll have seen this build featured in great detail. I messaged Doug and hoped he’d want to give his time to feature this awesome car and he agreed!
What type of car do you have?
2004 Dodge SRT4
A lot of people give their cars nicknames/actual names. Do you have one for your Neon?
The Alpha Skittle
Mod List! Let’s have it!
- Turbo by Garrett GTX3076R w/ TiAL 0.63 V-Band Housing*
- Continental Tires: 285/30/18, 285/645/18, 285/30/19, 255/30/19
- Enkei RPF1 Wheels: 18×9.5, 18×10.5, 19×8.5, 19×10 depending on event
- Tunergeeks V-Band Top Mount Tubular Manifold*
- TiAL “Q” BOV and MV-S Wastegate
- DEI Platinum wrap on Downpipe, DEI Platinum heat shield on Alt.
- DEI Gold Reflective Foil on Firewall & Intake
- CNC Port +2,+1 Custom Racing Head w/Crane 16 cams
- Deatschwerks 1,300 cc Injectors in Boomba Fuel Rail w/ Deatschwerks FPR
- SPEC Mini-Twin Carbon/Carbon Clutch with custom T.O.B.
- Nigel Tuned on DSP using Ignite 114 (E90)
- Radium “Competition” Catch Can
- Liberty’s Gears DOG GEARS and Sliders
- Deatschwerks Surge Tank with Dual Deatschwerks 350iL pumps
- JE 8.5:1 +0.040 pistons on BC 625+ Rods
- Ishihara-Johnson Teflon Crank Scraper and Road Racing Baffles
- Custom 3” Vibrant mandrel-bent exhaust with Hi-Flow Cat, Muffler and Side Exit
- AIS Intercooler with Samco Sport Hoses
- JRZ Double Adjustable dampers with Remote Reservoirs (One-Off’s)
- Tunergeeks Custom Rear Control Arms
- TCE-Wilwood 13×1.1” BBK with C Compound Pads
- APR Front Splitter – Custom Windspeed Motorsports Profile
- APR Performance GTC-200 Wing with custom Chassis Mounts
- Tred Wear custom tire lettering
- Viper ACR-X canards; Upper and Lower
- Custom lightweight Aluminum rear diffuser
- FRP (Fiber Reinforced Plastic) Fender Flares (Nissan 240SX fitment)
- IPP Carbon Fiber hood
- Windspeed Motorsports handmade Sunroof Delete Panel
- Racetech RT-4009HR Drivers and RT-4009 Passenger seat
- Racetech FIA Harnesses for Driver and Passenger
- N2MB Boost Box
- RaceCar Builders of South Florida custom 8 Point Cage
- Graphics by Diablo D-Zigns
What was the biggest “surprise” obstacle you faced when you worked on the car (as in what was maybe supposed to have been an easy task but ended up being a pretty huge undertaking)?
Just keeping the car reliable… The car was great for many years, in the 450 whp range, but with pushing the power levels above 600whp, there is always a new “weak-link” finding its way to the surface.
Have you always wanted to build a Neon? If not what other cars have you built/modified?
The Neon was selected as a “best bang for the buck” One Lap of America entry in late 2005 for our first running of the event in 2006. It all snowballed from there!
In college I had a 1987 El Camino SS that I had modified with suspension and tire/wheel upgrades, that I used in Autocrosses with the Clemson Sports Car Club. It also carried all the cones and timing equipment, and towed the club car (all at the same time). That’s the only other “competition car” I have had.
How much tire testing did you end up doing before going with the right size that made the car feel like it was in its’ “sweet” spot?
Since I decided to go to a “big-tire” setup in 2009, I have tested with several different sizes, but I have come right back to the tire size I used in the very beginning 275/35/18. All the other sizes tend to have some sort of drawback in either: weight, height (rubbing), or available wheel offset (more rubbing) short-falls….
Think back to your first motorsport event. If you could go back to that event with the knowledge you have now, what would you tell yourself?
“Just Relax” …… My first competitive event in the “Alpha Skittle” was at Road America… in 35* rain; with NO knowledge of the track layout. I didn’t know I would be driving that day until we were prepping the car at the track that morning. I had to tape a track map to the dashboard to try to remember the layout.
Let’s talk suspension. Given the geometry what do you think is one thing the car could do better (i.e. sweepers, hairpins, transients)?
I think that the hairpin turn is the Achilles heel of the Neon. Not so much from the suspension perspective, but from gaining traction to accelerate away from the slow speed turns.
What would you say the car’s primary strength is?
While the car is very well-prepared for Time Attack / Time Trial “racing”, its strength is still in the straights where it can really stretch its legs! It’s not slow in the turns by any means, but being FWD does have some disadvantages.
Given the supporting motor upgrades, has it been fairly reliable given the severe punishment it goes through?
The motor is built with all “off-the-shelf” parts except for my turbo manifold and the reliability has been great. I don’t like too many “custom” of “one-off” components as that severely extends downtime in the case of a failure. The current engine in the car I built myself (it was my first) in the garage and heading into its 3rd race season. The previous engine lasted more than 3 years as well.
Are there any sponsors you would like to acknowledge for their assistance in getting your car to the way that it is?
- Modern Performance has been a great sponsor since 2011. They are the top provider of OEM and Aftermarket parts for the Neon community (and many other domestic 4 cylinder vehicles) since 1997.
- Continental Tires has been with us since 2008 and make some of the best tires on the market.
- Turbo by Garrett make the best turbos on the market and the power levels this thing makes from a mid-sized turbo, on a small exhaust housing, are just amazing!
- Deatschwerks fuel injectors have been bulletproof and their new line of pumps and surge tanks are going into the car this spring
- Liberty’s Gears have solved all my transmission woes as broken input shafts and stripped gears haven’t been an issue since the day I found their product offerings!
- Brutal Speed and Tuning (Nigel Alexander) keeps the car running smooth and reliable. A big power number doesn’t mean a thing if the car doesn’t last thru the weekend. Luckily he is only about 100 miles away, so anytime I make any changes to the power train (1-2 times/year), we head up to see him and he gets us all straightened out!
As most of raced cars undergo continuous changes, what are the next plans for the car?
We have been competing in a few ½ Mile drag events, and for those, we have a new aero package and a pushing the car into previously unexplored “4 bar” boost levels.
Take a ride with Doug and the Alpha Skittle
Great example of why the whole reason everyone always says “Smooth is fast!”