I don’t remember much from my high school days—and what I do remember is receeding right along with my hairline—but there was one story about the most unlucky dude in Greek mythology that has stuck with me all this time. This cat’s name was Sisyphus, and he had done something so heinous in his lifetime that he was sentenced to forever push a large boulder up a hill. Every time he neared the top of the hill the rock escaped from his control and rolled right back down to the bottom, and he’d have to start over. Don’t ask me what the point of rolling the rock up the hill was, I don’t know.

The gist here is we’ve all had days when we’ve felt a lot like Sisyphus. As Project Mudslinger has inched ever nearer to completion, we’ve sometimes felt trapped on the same hill. Last month we recounted the process of installing the steering system, then ripping it out and starting over again. Project Mudslinger is still moving forward, but as we’ve learned more about what we need out of the car, we’ve begun the process of refining some areas that still needed a little help.

Thinking we were ready to put a body on the car, we ordered five sheets of aluminum from Stock Car Steel and Aluminum, loaded everything up and trucked the Project Mudslinger car to a friend’s race shop. Chris Hargett races Dirt Late Models and Neil Wilson is his crew chief. Together they have started H&W Race Car Fabrication, building and repairing cars for other racers. They once made the off-hand comment that they would help us out if we ever needed anything and now we’re holding them to it. Chris earns his living in the daytime working in his father’s body shop, so we knew we wanted his help making the Mudslinger look like a real car again.

Using half-inch square sticks of steel that we also got from Stock Car Steel, Chris and Neil began by building a framework to box out the inside of the car. Our rules say we have to have a stock steel roof and rear quarters, so to keep weight low, the rest of the car is going to be aluminum. Because we weren’t going to be using the heavy stock trunk lid we decided to make a Late Model-style trap-door access to the fuel cell. It required a trip to the hardware store for a piano hinge and a little extra time on the sheetmetal brake, but it turned out really trick. We also cut out all but the exterior face of the A-posts. While we were at it, we notched the A-posts and dropped the front of the roof appoximately an inch. The goal is to make sure the roof is angled slightly down, or is at least level, so it won’t act like a big sail going down the straights.

While Chris and Neil were working their sheetmetal magic, the rest of the Mudslinger crew began retracing its steps. We still didn’t have our ride heights set, so it was impossible to hang the body correctly until that was done. It was about here that our progress, which had been sailing along smoothly on an asphalt interstate, took a hard right onto the infamous 50 miles of bad road. We decided our efforts to tune the chassis would be greatly improved with a set of adjustable spring cups. No problem. Our friends at Bradley’s Auto Parts had just about anything we needed and set us up with four adjustable units from Afco. The units we used have about three inches of adjustability and required slight modifications to fit our car. Unfortunately, the 11-inch Blue Coil springs I ordered to be used up front were now too long. Thankfully, the folks at Suspension Spring Specialists (the makers of Blue Coil springs) said because the springs had not been used (they had been installed on the car but it has always sat on jackstands) they could replace them with the 9.5-inch units we now needed. The rear springs were the right size.

Once the suspension was reworked, Chris and Neil fabbed up some solid engine mounts so we could set the mill in place. The transmission was still being readied at Jim Cook Race Cars, so we had to bolt up a dummy unit. We are using a Shoenfeld through-the-firewall header, which is a nice piece. Richard Johnson, our engine builder, says the through-the-firewall configuration is worth a handful of horsepower over headers that route the exhaust under the floorboard, so we definitely want this pipe. But, of course, we forgot to take this into consideration when we routed the brake line across the firewall to get to the right-front tire. Looks like we’ll be borrowing a brake line flange again.

Because of the hurdles—including remounting the brake and clutch pedals—we are behind getting the body in place. It looks like the beginning of the race season is going to start without us, but that’s OK. We said from the beginning that we wanted to try building a car from scratch and take our lumps along the way—looks like we’re getting our wish.

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?

Bradley’s Auto Parts
Indian Trail
NC  28079
LWP Auto Salvage
4731 Stough Rd.
NC  28027
H&W Race Car Fabrication
NC  28110
Stock Car Steel and Aluminum
NC  28115
Suspension Spring Specialists
AR  46506
Jim Cook Race Cars
185 Glenwood Dr.
NC  28025
Ford Racing Performance Parts
44050 N. Groesbeck Hwy.
Clinton Township
MI  48036
20 Cane Hill
Van Buren
AZ  72956
4700 Calle Bolero, Dept. SC
Camarillo, CA 93012
JR Motorsports
801 SW Ordanance Rd.
IA  50021