I know I know, you probably didn’t expect to see this on Eat Sleep DSM, but this is a huge part of my life and I LOVE project logs, so I figured….why not make a project log for the dirt car? Because this is such a big part of my life, it’s going to take a little away from the DSM’s. Long before I got into DSM’s, dirt racing was my whole life. I was born into it, hell a week after I climbed out of my mothers womb, I was in victory lane with my pops. My family and myself stopped racing dirt cars several years back because we just count afford it anymore. You think DSM’s are expensive? Multiply that by ten.

Words By AJ Hunsinger // Images By AJ Hunsinger


Last year was my first attempt to get back into a dirt car while trying to maintain a balance of dirt racing and DSM stuff. I failed miserably to put much time into the DSM as the car I ran last year, just a Pure Stock, took up a lot of my time. This year, I am making the jump back up to the IMCA Modified division which is where I left off about 8 years ago when we stopped racing. I can already tell this year, the new dirt modified is going to consume the majority of my time. But, I am still going to do my best to build #PoisonIvy and make a couple trips to the drag strip.

IMCA (International Motor Contest Association) is a national sanction that consists of many different classes. The IMCA Modifieds is one of the more popular and elite classes in the sanction. The class has a very strict set of rules that separate it from other sanctions that use similar cars. The tires is the biggest one. We all have to run on the same tire, which is a Hoosier D40, and is a very hard compound tire. The hard tire makes for quite a challenge to manhandle the car around the turns while searching for maximum traction.

The car we just picked up is one that we bought off of our friend Rich McNeal, whom is also a dirt racer. This particular modified is a 2012 Pistol Chassis. It is fairly outdated compared to what guys are running now, but it should still be plenty competitive.

Our plan for this season is to race two nights a week- Outlaw Speedway located in Dundee, NY on Friday nights and Thunder Mountain Speedway in Lisle, NY. These two tracks are the closest tracks that run the IMCA Modifieds. The track I ran at last year with the Pure Stock, The Hill Speedway which is located in Monroten, PA, is only about 30 minutes from me and they do run IMCA Modifieds. But, they did not get the approval for the IMCA sanction, thus you don’t get any points for IMCA. There’s not much of a point in running a track that doesn’t award IMCA points.

With IMCA, there is several different categories (if you will) for points. There is the National points, Regional points, State points, Track points, as well as Rookie of the Year points. Although I have previously ran in the IMCA Modifieds, I only ran a few times so I am still eligible to compete for Rookie of the Year. And that, that is my ultimate goal this year is to win the Rookie of the Year award.

Now, more about our IMCA Modified that I will be running this year. The car has sat for quite a while and the paint on the chassis itself seems to have been applied in a poor manner, thus it is flaking off in large chunks. So, the first thing we did was removed the body. From there, we continued stripping down the car so we could sand down the chassis as best we could to sand it and prep for paint.

There are also some areas of the chassis that we need to attend to. The frame rail on the right side of the car is bent, so we will be replacing it with a new piece. The design of the cage also has several flaws that we plan on addressing.

We bought the car over a month ago, just haven’t picked it up until now. So beings that it is now at the very end of February and racing season is less than two months away, we have quite a lot of work to do considering the car is now pretty much just a bare chassis. But, we will get it painted soon so we can begin throwing it back together. I actually just picked up some paint yesterday and most of the sanding is already done. We are buying a furnace for the garage that our friend Joe Lane (also a race car driver) so graciously let us borrow this season. Once we get the furnace installed, we will begin painting it.

Joe Lane just built us an engine and that is pretty much ready to go. We are using a Chevy 350 block with a 400 crank, making our engine a 383 stroker. We should easily get out 500HP out of it.

Most of you probably aren’t very familiar with these cars, so I will try to inform you on the basics of an IMCA Modified. With the IMCA modified, you have to use a factory GM front clip. Ours, is a metric chassis. After the front clip is a complete tubed chassis, very similar to a dirt late model. We are using a Ford 9″ rear end with a 4 link rear suspension.

The angles and lengths of the bars on the rear determines the setup. The rear of the car is very important as the rear actually turns the car almost as much as the front turns the car. There are 2 bars on each side of the rear that connects the rear end to the chassis in a front to rear manner.

On the right rear, the further the right rear tire is from the chassis, the more the rear turns the car to the left. On the left rear, it is the opposite. The closer the left rear tire is from the chassis, the more the rear end will turn the car left.

There is also a J Bar, that attaches the rear end to the chassis from left to right. This controls the roll center of the car.

The rear end moves constantly on the track, up and down, left and right. The video below is a rear suspension cam from an IMCA Modified to give you an idea how much the rear end and the rear suspension moves on the track. (Skip ahead quite a bit to skip to when the driver is on the track and racing)

We will be making a new body for the car while trying to save and reuse as many of the panels as we can. I kind of have an idea on how I want the car to look once the graphics and new body is on, which can be seen below.

The car came with a lot of goodies, like 3 out of 4 shocks that are an AFCO Edge Slick shock package. But, there are a lot of odds and ends that are missing and our parts list is constantly growing. I will be making more updates on this as we near the start of the 2017 racing season.

If you enjoyed this post, comment below and share so I can get an idea of the interest in this “Project Log”.

I would also like the give a big thanks to my dad, Ricky Hunsinger for making this whole thing possible as well as Joe Lane for letting me keep this car, and maintain the car at his garage which is only 5 minutes down the road so I will be able to work on the ol’ girl frequently.

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