There’s a great story about how Elvis Presley made an unannounced visit to then President Nixon in 1970. I’m not sure how much is fact and how much is myth, but the story goes that Nixon welcomed Elvis, who presented the President with a rare Colt .45 pistol. In return, Nixon gave Elvis a badge and an honorary position as a United States Narcotics Bureau agent.

For the momentous occasion, Elvis was arrayed in his usual, subdued garb: black velvet cape, a white shirt open to mid-chest with a collar large enough to camp under, a belt buckle the size of Texas and two chains with enough gold to make Fort Knox sit up and take notice. It was a fantastic outfit if you ask me, but then again, I write for a racing magazine and not GQ.

After the exchange of gifts, Nixon, who was wearing a much more presidential suit and tie, couldn’t restrain himself any longer and finally made a comment to The King about his choice of attire for a meeting with the President of the United States.

“Well, Mr. President,” Elvis is said to have replied, “you’ve got your gig, and I’ve got mine.”

That’s the way we felt as our Project Mudslinger vehicle was finally stripped to the core and ready for the rollcage. We are smart enough to realize building a rollcage we’re willing to stake our lives on just ain’t our gig, so we loaded up what was left of our car and trundled it off to an expert.

Like we said, safety is something we take seriously. Normally, guys racing in Mini-Stocks are on a pretty tight budget, but we do recommend having a professional build your cage if you don’t have complete confidence with your welding and fabrication skills. For help we turned to Wes Filyaw and NASFAB in Concord, N.C. Wes has been racing Mini-Stocks for years and is one of the few people in our area that specializes in building that type of car.

We are also lucky to have the advantages that come with living in central North Carolina, a hub for big-time stock car racing. While most chassis and cage builders will do it for you, we decided to order our own raw materials. Stock Car Steel, located in Mooresville, N.C., provides raw materials to almost every NASCAR Winston Cup and Busch team in the area, but it also delivers to any race shop within its range. The great thing about this company is it doesn’t require gigantic minimum orders like most industrial steel distributors. If you can find an outfit like this close to you that will deliver, it’s definitely the way to go. We ordered up 20 feet of 2-inch square tubing, 40 feet of 1-½- inch .095 dom tubing and another 60 feet of 1-½-inch .083 dom tubing. It was waiting for us at the NASFAB shop the next day. We also ordered a box of 50 gussets from A&A Manufacturing to further strengthen the center section.

The plan, since we will be racing dirt, is to move the driver’s position as far back as possible to get more weight over the rear wheels. To make sure we didn’t get our dimensions crossed up, we went ahead and purchased a racing seat, shoulder and head restraints and mounting hardware from Butler Built. We used the seat constantly in the process to try out different driver locations and to make sure the rollcage left the driver enough room to work. When doing this, don’t forget to find your seat height and be sure there is plenty of clearance between the driver’s head and the roof bar just beneath the window. Under no circumstances do you want the driver’s helmet to be able to make contact with that bar while he’s strapped into the seat. Sounds obvious, but we’ve seen it done wrong too many times.

Back home we decided to make the most of our time while the car was gone and reorganize the shop. More lights were fitted up, followed by a giant pegboard and a generous workbench. Then we splurged with a trip to Sears. A couple hours later we left with a workingman’s toolbox and enough tools to fill it.

Craftsman offers pre-packaged tool kits at some pretty good prices, and we snatched up two that we recommend. The first is Craftsman’s 318-piece “Essential Tool Set,” consisting of several sets of both metric and standard wrenches and sockets. If you bought all the pieces in this $499 kit individually, you would spend more than $1,500, so instead of trying to fill in all the holes in our tool kits, we just decided to start fresh for the same amount of money. The second kit we purchased was Craftsman’s 94-piece “Auto Specialty” tool set. Although this kit has a couple of tools designed for passenger cars that we will never use, the pre-packaged price again beat buying everything we needed individually. Some of the essentials we are going to need are a pickle fork kit, brake tools, a compression tester and a timing light.

Finally, we also picked up an electric grinder, a three-ton shop jack and a set of jackstands.

Part I: In the Beginning There Was...Junk

Part II: All Caged In

Part III: Shoehorn, Please!

Part IV: Toil And Trouble

Part V: What Do You Mean, Start Over?

Aero Tec Laboratories
Spear Road Industrial Park
NJ  07746-1251
A&A Manufacturing
19033 174th Ave.
Spring Lake
MI  49456
Sears Craftsman Butler Built Motorsports Equipment
70 Pitts School Rd. N.W.
NC  28027
7940 Hwy. 601 S., Bay #7
NC  28025
Stock Car Steel
8080 Performance Rd.
NC  28115