(Editor’s note: We ran this feature after Speed Week last year. Since the car will be back and the boys have an excellent shot at making a 300mph pull down the salt, we wanted to re-familiarize you with Lee Sicilio’s amazing 1969 Charger Daytona. Take a couple minutes to read the story, even if you have before and check out the photos. Pushing a stock bodied car to 300mph is pretty insane and you’ll feel that too when you see the effort that Lee and boys have put in on this deal. They went 273 on their first time to the salt in the car last year….this year we think that they have the suds for 300. Stay tuned….we’ll keep you posted!)
Lee Sicilio is a Texan with a penchant for Salt. His friends will tell you that nobody uses it on the rim of a Bloody Mary better, but they’ll also tell you that his drink making skills pale in comparison to his love of the salt at Bonneville. With numerous records behind the wheel of his 1969 Dodge Daytona “Wing Car”, it was no surprise that three years ago he and a very skilled group of guys decided they wanted more. As in 300 mph. And despite hearing from multiple people, including Hot Rod Editor-In-Chief David Freiburger, that another 1969 Dodge Daytona was the wrong car to go 300 plus mph in, Lee just couldn’t help himself. The resulting 300 mph effort is arguably one of the cleanest door cars to ever grace the salt, and when you consider that Macdonald & Pitts and Lindsleys & Leggitt in their swoopy 4th Gen Firebirds are racing in that same category, that is saying something. Sure the 4th Gen GM Firebirds and Trans Ams are aerodynamically a better start, but for a guy like Lee easy isn’t always good. For that reason alone, Lee and his Dodge are seriously BangShift approved. We won’t argue with using a muscle car, and an iconic one at that, for speeds that most will never imagine attaining. We probably should, but we won’t. Especially when you consider that with only 5 runs on the car they set a record at this year’s Bonneville Speed Week in the A/BGALT class at 273.514 mph.
The Man: Lee Sicilio is a big big man. Not in stature, and not in fame, but most certainly in attitude and character. With Motorhead, Mr. Horsepower, and Bonneville 200mph Club tattoos on his back and arms, they pale in comparison to his entertaining persona. He’s always the life of the party, the king of storytelling, and the guy that is always on top of filling your drink. Part jester, part bartender, all racer. And as you would expect, behind the man is one hell of a woman. Jan, Lee’s wife of 19 years, is always there with support at home, words of encouragement in the pits, a squeeze of the hand and knowing look before each run, and a kiss to celebrate at the top end.
The Team: Lee may be a big man, but he’s smart enough to know that taking on records that potentially mean 300 plus MPH speeds means you need a good team. And through smart choices, luck, and a bit of right place at the right time, Lee has put together one hell of a team. With Scott “The Geek” Clark handling the wiring chores and tapping the keys that control the tuneup and data logging from the DIY Autotune MS3X Megasquirt System, this bad boy is making good power and giving the rest of the crew the data they need for keeping all the mechanicals happy. At the heart of the mechanicals is a one-off double Bill E. Badass chassis designed and built by Ryan Fain of Brink Racecraft. Ryan’s name is synonymous with Outlaw Promods and super fast street cars, so getting this thing to hook on the salt was his personal mission. He’s done a great job on a chassis that rivals any we have ever seen and his role as Car Chief suits him incredibly well. Driving the push truck, belting Lee in, and being the overall voice of reason is Crew Chief Randy Hughes. His patient nature, ability to herd Lee, quiet wit, and overall respect for everyone involved in the project makes for a smooth running team that always seems to be moving in the right direction. Randy is also responsible for the paint job on this car, which was originally scheduled to show up in simple primer, but Randy refused to bring the car out in anything other than a respectable paint job, so he worked around the clock for three weeks to get the job you see here done. Each member of the team has a definite skill set and each member recognizes what things are their responsibility and their area of expertise. We consider ourselves lucky to call each of these guys friends, and to have been allowed to be honorary members of the team for Speed Week 2012. We would however be complete idiots if we did not mention Matt Cramer and Jerry Hoffman from DIY Autotune who also worked tirelessly on the car this year, as well as Misty (Randy’s much better half), Randal Burns and his better half Melissa, along with all the Texas contingent who were there for support and to help drink Lee’s booze. Special thanks has to go to Neil Roberts who took time away from his day job as head aerodynamicist for CART and IndyCar Teams to work on this project as well. His input on attitude of the car, rear wing angles, air dam, exhaust, etc. was critical in completing the car. Neil also performed on-the-spot “oil droplet” testing to visualize the airflow around the car. Surprisingly, the results were better than expected, and he is now more optimistic than ever about the cars potential performance.
The Engine: The 498 cubic inch Hemi powering the Daytona was screwed together by Lee’s longtime engine builder and good friend Ray Barton. Ray is known for building killer HEMI combos for the heavily contested HEMI Super Stock class in NHRA competition, although he has never been a big fan of EFI. That all changed when Ray, his son David and Scott started working on more and more interesting customer projects that required EFI. With Barton’s decades of HEMI building experience, and Scott’s ability to make big steam with turbos, there was no doubt that a pair of Precision 91mm Pro Mod turbos were in order. Knowing that 300 plus mph was going to take a lot of power, Barton built the engine to handle as much as 3500 horsepower, by using a Keith Black “water block,” a Bryant crankshaft, a bulletproof rotating assembly, and a Barton-spec’d cam and valvetrain. The big turbos feed a Barton Cast Intake Manifold, and boost is controlled by 60mm Tial Wastegates and Blowoff Valves. All of this is controlled by the aforementioned DIY Autotune Megasquirt MS3X, providing sequential fuel and spark to each cylinder. Ignition is handled by 8 Pantera IGN-1A coilpacks and the fuel injectors are 225 lb/hr Injector Dynamics nozzles good for 2800hp on gasoline. On the chassis dyno Scott made 1500 hp at the tires with only 6 pounds of boost before the dyno gave up and said no more. On the salt it only took a couple runs to get the sequential fuel and spark right where they wanted it and yet they still only needed 8 pounds of boost to go 283 mph. That’s less than half the power this combo will make, so we armchair crew chiefs are pretty confident that 310 mph is in the cards.
The Car: The maze of tubing that makes up the chassis in this car is expertly fabricated, placed, and thought out. Not only does it have more than the safety regulations require, but also has features that make driving, maintaining, and servicing the car much more enjoyable. Plus, it has cup holders! No really, cup holders! Plus a place to hold the laptop for tuning, smart instrumentation that Ryan and Scott worked out to make the task of driving as easy as possible on Lee, and little trick touches that will take weeks to notice. Ryan Fain, the man behind the chassis design and fabrication might actually have thought of everything. He’ll say there are a few things he wants to add or change, just like any car builder, but this piece is bitchin. Unlike a drag car chassis, land speed stuff needs to be built quite a bit heavier. They typically weight at least 2000 pounds more than their street driven versions, and Lee’s Daytona weighed way way north of 4000 pounds in Bonneville trim for 2012. The scary thing is they can add more than 2000 pounds more weight to the car than is in it now.
Unlike a lot of Bonneville cars, Lee’s is super easy to get in and out of which is the key to making one of these things safe. With a funny car cage, ISP helmet pads, Simpson belts, Firefox fire systems, NASCAR roof flaps, and Stroud Chutes, this car is ready for just about anything. And to make life easier when pushing it around on the way to the starting line or pits, Ryan even installed air ride. It will lift the front and rear 4 inches each without changing any suspension spring rates because they are only there for lifting. When running down the track the air springs are allowed to inhale and exhale air as they like because they are just along for the ride. Get done with the run, close a couple valves, add air and no worries about smacking the front air dam. Now that’s thinking.
All the power from the Barton built HEMI is channeled through a Jerico 5-speed NASCAR clutchless transmission and then back to a Winters quick-change rear-end. The rear is suspended by a 4 link with separate coils and shocks, while the front features a one-off Ryan Fain designed dual A-arm suspension with a coil spring and separate shock. All four corners have NASCAR style weight jacks as well. Ryan’s front suspension features some of the biggest spindles we’ve ever seen, along with upper and lower a-arm tubing that rivals most roll cages. This stuff looks more monster truck than race car. When asked why Ryan’s reply was “hell it weighs about as much as a monster truck!”
Those of you who aren’t familiar with too many race car chassis may not notice some of the features that Ryan has incorporated in this one, but those of you who have been around drag racing AND land speed racing will notice a lot of drag racing influence. Most of that is in order to keep the car safe while also easy to maintain. Ever single thing in this car has a purpose, a place, and good sound reasoning.
Making sure that the outside of the car was just as pretty as the inside was poor Randy Hughes’ job. With only a few weeks to blow this whole car apart, paint it, and put it back together, Randy had his work cut out for him. He’ll tell you that there are parts he wasn’t happy with, and that his pet peeve was the decals that had to be installed since their wasn’t time to letter it, but the car is still gorgeous. The metal work and fabrication that Randy and Ryan put into every component makes for one really sharp looking race car. From the sheet metal in the interior, to the hood, fender openings, and amazing quarter panels, every single panel was finished with purpose and it shows. Starting with a 1969 Charger that had more sheet metal issues that originally planned for meant that Randy and Ryan really had to be on their game to keep the project on track. Sure the planning started 3 years ago, but between the two of them they have nearly four thousand man-hours in this car. And that doesn’t include Scott Clark’s or Lee’s time.
Although this is a completely new car, there was no doubt that it would have to be the familiar Orange and Black that Lee’s other Daytona wears. Sure it’s sleeker looking than the old one thanks to the new air dam, hood, lower ride height, etc. But other than the shaved door handles, and the air dam, it is completely Altered class legal, which uses a Production body with minor allowed modifications such as engine set back, front air dam, and a step pan under the body (not a belly pan). We love that, and so does Lee. That would make beating the all time door car speed that much sweeter since everyone else has done it with much swoopier bodies. The current fastest two doorslammers are Macdonald & Pitts at 308.983 (AA/FALT) and Lindsleys & Leggitt at 308.517 (B/BFALT) although Lindsleys & Leggitt actually ran 333 at the middle mile but could not back it up due to engine failure.
Ultimately, Lee Sicilio and his band of merry men and women have put together what may be the best 1969 Dodge Daytona ever built. Sure its turning radius wouldn’t allow you to make a u-turn anywhere in the country, it rides pretty stiff, and the air dam could make turning into driveways a bit of a challenge, but it does one thing better than any Daytona on the planet and that’s HAUL ASS. We dig it, and you know you do too.