This was to become the 4th version of the UK Showtime cars.
In 1997 version 3.5 of the Showtime Pontiac had just ran 5.46/276 and although we were pleased it was pretty obvious that the car was reaching it’s limitations very quickly so we were on the lookout for a newer chassis and a change in body style.
Tom Hoover suggested I call Don Skuza as he had a car for sale and I should go take a look. I called Don and we agreed to meet at his shop in Cleveland Ohio the following weekend. The car was a McKinney and had a brand new Dodge Avenger body also mounted by McKinney. The detail was fantastic, to produce a car like this must have taken forever. Don informed me that the car was scheduled by Chrysler to go to Reynard in the UK for some computer wind tunnel simulations. Perfect I thought, shipping for free what more could I ask for. Needless to say we did the deal.
When we took delivery the body went to the paint shop, which turned out like a show car, not a race car (make a note here) and we set to work on installing our then current motor combination. It all came together at Easter 1998, which ironically was a total rain out with the biggest flooding on record in the UK. Not a wheel turned all weekend.
May race came and we ran the car for the first time. It ran an easy 5.60 something, so I was encouraged that I could creep up on the performance. I made some changes, another 5.60 came up. Ok time for a big change, another 5.60. I battled all year with that car but it would not respond, if it did it would shake or smoke the tires.
Later that year we added a second car to the team (More about that in another story) and felt that maybe we should not give up with the Dodge and should do some testing the week before the September finals. Bill Sherratt drove and guess what it ran, another 5.60, this time though the car was upset with me as it broke the crankshaft in 2 pieces right at the finish line and dragged it along the shutdown area until it came to rest. Bill was totally unaware of what happened as there was no fire and hardly any oil. Amazing.
Finals came and we had 2 cars, I had asked Gary Page if he wanted to drive the Dodge as John was driving the new car. He readily agreed and did an excellent job to win the event with guess what, a best of 5.64.
1999 came and I still could not get to grips with the chassis. Either it was too stiff, or the motor was too high, or possibly too far forward. Bottom line is it did not like my tune-up and it sure told me all about it. (yep, looked like a show car. Now I remember) I got my revenge when we covered and locked it up for 2 years. Not even a show car now!!!