This killer B-Body really buzzes the Camaros on the road course!
From the March, 2012 issue of Popular Hot Rodding / By Christopher Campbell / Photography by Robert McGaffin
Whether you’d like to chalk it up to popularity, parts availability, or perhaps some permutation of the two it’s an annoying truth of the hobby that some cars are just easier to build for the type of all-around performance standards that Pro Touring cars strive to achieve. But that always leaves the burning question: What if your loyalty lies with an underserved member of the community? You get creative and look for ways to pioneer.
We’ve noticed for quite some time that at any given event—be it autocross, track, or open road—you can usually count the Mopars in attendance on one finger or less. Oh sure, good-looking and high-horsepower cars turn out for car shows and drag races, but for some reason when it comes to actually pitching the Pentastars in more than one direction, the participation drops off precipitously. Is it that parts just aren’t there, or are the parts not there because the customers aren’t there?
Either way, when we do spot Mopar A-, B-, C-, or E-Bodies walking the walk, we take note. And not to play favorites, but the big B-Body cars particularly catch our eye. Maybe because it’s easy to picture the smaller ’Cudas and Challengers carving cones, but oh so much more interesting when a Charger has the courage. That’s why we couldn’t take our eyes off of Martin Sokulski’s beautiful blue B at this year’s Optima Ultimate Street Car Invitational.
While Chargers don’t seem to be at the top of the list for those seeking to pursue handling, it was the obvious choice for Martin. His dad originally bought a ’68 Charger that was his pride and joy, but he had to part with it to buy the family’s first house. Martin always felt like he should bring one back to the Sokulski clan. As for the handling angle, up until a few years ago, Martin was heavy into Stock racing, driving Limited Stock circle track and NASCAR late-model for almost 15 years. He did fairly well, and even had his own team for a while. Around that time, Martin figured it was a good time to finally get a Charger. A ’68, of course.
Looking for a way to bring a bit of that Stock Car corner capability into his Charger, Martin was one of the early guys to jump into the Pro Touring revolution, focusing his attention and budget as much on handling as horsepower. The options were even thinner back then, so much of the work was custom, but simple. Needless to say, he still raised a few hackles at the notoriously conservative Mopar events he attended with it. Unfortunately, history repeated itself and Martin had to part with that Charger due to family responsibilities. It was the right thing to do, but he always regretted having to say goodbye.
On the bright side, that Charger went to another great Mopar-loving home with Mike Musto—yup, the same guy who owns the ’69 Daytona clone seen in our OUSCI coverage. The Pro Touring Mopar community really is a small world. Also bitten by the Pro Touring bug, Musto had been looking for a B-Body to play with. Not too long after acquiring it, Musto drove the Charger on the Bull Run cross-country rally. Needless to say, Martin wished he was the guy behind the wheel, and missing out on an adventure like that (in the car he built!) stuck with him.
With that unpleasant taste in his mouth, it wasn’t long before Martin found himself searching ads for another ’68 Charger. Surprisingly, a nicely painted and solid-bodied roller showed up in Alaska, of all places. Ironically, when Martin contacted the owner about it, he learned the Charger was actually a California car that was bought right around the time he sold his first Charger. Actually, the owner had called Martin about his car, but had been beaten to the punch by Musto, which was why he’d bought this Charger. Man, the Mopar world really is small.
Those tight-knit connections came back around to help Martin though; when Musto secured an invitation to the 2011 OUSCI for his Daytona, race director Jimi Day asked him if he knew of any other worthy vintage Mopar owners who would be up for a trip to Pahrump and a little track time. Without hesitation, he called Martin. Luckily, the Charger had gone from roller to runner in short order, and Martin had been driving it for a while. But there was only a month to get it up to par and prepared for actual competition. With the help of buddies Steve Collins, Dan Basher, and Brad Drawhorn, the Charger was upgraded to higher-rate Hotchkis springs with RideTech adjustable shocks, custom subframe connectors, and a set of Viper calipers on the front brakes. After all, he had to make sure his B-Body could run harder than Musto’s!
So how did it work out for him? Martin ended up being the fastest of the big Mopars on the 2.2-mile Spring Mountain Motorsports Ranch road course by a strong margin; he covered one similarly prepped car by a full 3 seconds. “If I did not have to feather the throttle on some of the long sweepers due to an oiling issue,” Martin told us, “I would have been even faster!”
We think that taste may have hooked Martin for good. ’Round about sunrise the following morning, as we stood in an empty area of the Las Vegas Speedway shivering from the 30-degree temperature to shoot the photos for this feature, Martin and fellow conspirators Collins, Basher, and Drawhorn were overheard doing quite a bit of bench racing. Plans were bandied to completely reinvent the Charger and try to make their way back to the OUSCI in 2012. More aggressive suspension, lighter wheels, maybe a 6.1 Hemi underhood … the wheels were definitely turning.
If he follows through, we think Martin has good odds for the invite. That’s one of the big benefits of following a road less traveled; it may provide more resistance, but he’ll still probably be one of the few Mopars in contention. Then again, maybe he’ll inspire more Mopar lovers to throw their hats in the ring. That would be fine with Martin though, he’d love to see more Mopars support the brand and carry the banner.
By The Numbers
Martin Sokulski; Woodinville, WA
Type: Mopar RB 440 big-block, .030-over
Displacement: 446ci (4.350-inch bore x 3.750-inch stroke)
Block: ’71 Dodge
Rotating assembly: stock crank, Eagle H-beam rods, 11:1 TRW forged racing pistons with 140-inch dome
Cylinder heads: 440Source aluminum Stealth, mildy ported
Camshaft: Lunati .513-/.533-inch lift, 242/242 degrees duration at .050
Valvetrain: Crane Gold roller rockers, 1.5 ratio
Induction: Edelbrock RPM intake, FAST EZ-EFI with 80 lb/hr injectors, Spectre Performance tubing and joints
Oiling: Milodon oil pan, custom oil passage work
Exhaust: Hedman 1¾-inch long-tube headers, Dynomax mufflers, custom 3-inch pipes
Fuel system: Weldon A-600-A pump, Aeromotive filter, black braided lines with AN fittings, Mallory fuel pressure regulator
Ignition: Mallory Unilite distributor, Crane LX-92 coil
Cooling: 440Source high-flow water pump
Output: 422 hp at 5,300 rpm, 510 lb-ft of torque at 4,400 (at the wheels)
Built by: Jay’s Automotive Machine; Everett, WA
Transmission: ’68 Chrysler 727 TorqueFlite with Gear Vendors over/underdrive
Rearend: Mopar 8.75 with Sure-Grip diff and 3.23 gears
Front suspension: 1.22-inch torsion bars, RideTech adjustable shocks, Hotchkis 1⅜-inch sway bar, Firm Feel tubular upper control arms
Rear suspension: Hotchkis 2-inch drop 160 lb/in springs with RideTech adjustable shocks and Hotchkis ⅞-inch sway bar
Brakes: 12-inch second-gen Viper four-piston brakes up front, 11-inch factory GM disc brakes on the rear, Wilwood master cylinder with Hydraboost conversion
Wheels & Tires
Wheels: 18×9 and 19×10 Budnik “Shock”
Tires: 255/45R18 and 295/35R19 BFGoodrich KDW 2