Throughout the course of his drag racing career, Chris Tuten has been one thing – persistent. From the very first time he competed in organized drag racing, his attitude has always been “we can do better”, and that attitude persists today, over a decade later, as he readies his newest creation for a debut at Donald Long’s No Mercy III race at the end of September at South Georgia Motorsports Park. Tuten, a longtime NMRA Super Street Outlaw racer, decided to take a different path this racing season, partnering up with a few friends and making updates to his car in an effort to keep the car’s appeal as wide as possible.
Tuten explained, “We’re going to be running ODR, Limited Street, anything we can fit in where we can compete and race against the fastest in the class. The way we built the car, if we want to put W’s on the car, we can go play in NMCA Super Street. The engine is a 526 cubic inch Alan Johnson 481X – the same engine they run in NHRA Pro Mod. The turbos are Precision Turbo Pro Mod 88’s with the new stainless housings and everything. It will be running on alcohol. The reality of it is, we don’t want to beat up local guys, we want to see how we stand against the best in the world. Our goals are to run 4.20’s in the eighth at 190, and 240 in the quarter with this car – the perfect air, perfect track, perfect situation – that’s what we’re shooting for. It may be two or three years but we’re gonna do it.”
The decision to make the change did not come lightly, but Tuten realized that he was feeling stagnant in his previous class. With the help of a number of sponsors, like Torque Converter Services, Team Z Motorsports, The Muffler Shop of Columbia, Superior Roofing, and On The Side Customs, it became simple. “The opportunity came my way to do it, so I figured why not? We’ve done fairly well running while we’ve been jammed up with a bunch of rules, so we want to see how well we can do where the rules are minimized. After chasing points non-stop for ten years, we needed a change in scenery to revitalize ourselves so we don’t get bored with racing.”
One of the concerns he had was whether the chassis he already had would be up to the task, so a quick phone call was placed to chassis builder Dave Zimmerman of Team Z Motorsports in Michigan. “I called Dave and asked him if the car could handle what we were thinking about, and he said the back half was ready to go but the front would need to be update, so I dropped it off to him earlier this season and am supposed to go pick it up on Friday,” said Tuten.
The Team Z shop is well-known for cranking out awesome rides and these updates were right up Zimmerman’s alley. “We’re making some changes to the car for Chris. We’ve installed a one piece front clip and front-halfed the car from the strut towers forward – we had to scallop the strut towers to help the 481X fit. We also redid all of the exhaust and steering, and built Chris an Outlaw-style K-member that wraps around the front of the engine to make oil pan removal simple,” Zimmerman told us.
Is Chris Tuten ready for the big time? He says, “We’ll finally have more power than we can use – we’ve always been the guys trying to kill it to race with everyone wherever we’ve been. For once we’ll have more than enough power. I can’t wait.”