Mickey Thompsons Challenger IV Part 3

by Curtis Guise on March 10, 2013

The tear down begins


Challenger IV sitting next to the class 12 waiting to be torn down.

After unloading Challenger IV (CH4) from the trailer, which is almost a story in itself, I was able to get the car loaded onto the dolly and set it next to the class 12 race car.  The next step was to try and figure out what I really needed to do first.  I was first just going to try and get the car back on its wheels and try and get it running, then start worrying about the frame up restoration.  The problem with that was the car had been in a loft for the past 18-20 years and lots of stuff was missing.  The best thing for me to do would be to start taking it down to the frame right away, taking as many high resolution photos as possible to make sure I could put it back together right.


Tear down begins.

Before I started the tear down, I called my high school buddy Erin Bryant who owns TURN 2 TV in Phoenix.  He too is a huge off road racing fan and we spent many days out in the Arizona, Nevada and Baja deserts watching the races.  I asked if he would be interested in doing some update videos for the build, he jumped at the chance.  A couple days later Erin showed up with his video equipment and we shot the first Video update.  It usually would take Erin a couple weeks to edit the thing together because he was doing it on the side but that’s ok, I wasn’t really in any hurry.

Early July in Arizona is no picnic, but the 110+ degree heat wasn’t going to stop me from tearing into CH4 to see what I was really dealing with.  It took of about a day and a half to slowly take apart each piece of CH4, mark and label each zip lock bag, then move onto the next one.  CH4 was in surprisingly good shape.  The powder coat wasn’t too bad, only in a couple areas did it really need help but for the most part it looked GREAT.  The heat was almost too much at times so I was limited to how much I spent working in the garage that first summer, which really didn’t matter since most of my time was spent on the phone tracking down old race parts.


Halibrand front hub (Knock off)

A couple of the hard to find items on the list turned out to be a front Halibrand hub.  I’ve learned a few things about Halibrand hubs in the past year, one being that there are a couple different style hubs, one for lighter sprint cars and Indy cars, and the other for Dirt model cars.  I needed the Dirt model spindles due to the fact they were a little larger and stronger.  The other hard to find item was the Magnesium Dana 60 built by Henry’s.  Seems the builder, Byron, was still around working out of his garage now, mostly tinkering and not really in the mood to be building out race car parts from 25 years ago.  When I talked to Byron, he told me my best bet was to keep my eyes open on eBay, they seem to show up a lot there.  I guess he hadn’t looked on eBay in a while because I looked for 6 months with no luck.


Chassis at ALLCOAT waiting for sandblasting and powder coat

Summer was now over and it was getting bearable in the race shop again.  With updating the online build on RDC, a buddy of mine and fellow desert racer Gary Messer (and owner of ALLCOAT powder coating) sent me an e-mail stating he would LOVE to powder coat CH4 at no charge.  Well, you can’t pass up an offer like that.  The only catch was I was going to have to strip the paint manually since old powder coat does not like to come off that easy with the sandblaster. It was off to the Home Depot to get some stripper and get to work.  It took a couple days to get finished but I was finally done.  While down to the frame I could really get a good look at the frame for cracks.  I found a couple with the naked eye but would really need to magnaflux the car in key areas to be sure.  In comes my other fellow racing buddy Macrae Glass.  Macrae races the KC Hilites class 8 truck in the BITD series and does quite well.  Macrae offered to magnaflux the frame for me so we would be good to go.  With a couple cracks found, it was off to my buddy Pete Corwin down the street to have them tig welded.


Chassis back home from powder coat

ALLCOAT finished powder coating CH4 on February 1st (2012), it looks OUTSTANDING.  Gary Messer and his guys did a great job and the quality was 2nd to none.  Along with the chassis they did about 30 other pieces in the same gloss black.  It is now time to start bolting up parts to CH4 and get started on some much needed fabrication.

By Rory Ward

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