There’s a lot to be said about being in the right place at the right time. Take Mid America Kustoms, for example — Adam Hodson, the team leader signed his crew up to compete in the Horsepower Wars $10K Drag Shootout in 2020. The team was selected to participate in the show and eventually won the grueling competition with a Chevrolet S10 truck it built, known as the Gap Train. But the story doesn’t end there. Hodson and crew have been racing the truck at no-prep events all over the country since obtaining the pink-slip and hauling it back home to Indiana. And as if winning $10K Drag Shootout and running the truck wasn’t enough, the S10 was then reproduced on the hit mobile game “Door Slammers 2” for the world to drive.
A Look At The Little Truck That Could
If you haven’t watched season three of the $10K Drag Shootout, you should. While all of the vehicles underwent a drastic transformation, MAK’s S10 was one of the best as the team paid meticulous attention to every detail. It was easy to see that these guys like to party, and this idea came to fruition as it positioned an 80mm BorgWarner turbo above the truck’s roofline, which forced air down the throat of the little LS engine. Team MAK utilized a stock 5.3-liter block, rods, cylinder heads, and valve springs, among other factory GM components that played well with their budget.
After the Show
Since Mid America Kustoms won the $10K Drag Shootout and took home the Gap Train, the little truck has been evolving as Hodson and driver and business partner Nick Taylor keep the S10 active at No-Prep events. We talked to Hodson to get the latest on the Gap Train and about the super cool accomplishment that wouldn’t have been possible if the team hadn’t taken a chance and done the show, getting the truck featured in Door Slammers 2.
From Reality To Video Game
Since Team MAK won the $10K Drag Shootout, Door Slammers 2 worked with them to get the S10 in the mobile game. And if you haven’t seen the Gap Train S10 in Door Slammers 2, it looks terrific. Jason Sellars, a 3D Content Artist at Door Slammers, worked on getting the Gap Train in digital trim. He said, “The unique challenge of adding any car to the game is drawing any custom items that make the vehicle look as close to real-life as possible. We also have to recreate any logos not readily available.”
The Door Slammers 2 crew was able to get every last detail on the truck, and it’s a carbon copy of the original. The team has captured every element of this wild build, from the ridiculous turbo placement to the intercooler protruding out of the grill. They even put the concrete ballast box in the bed and “Nicky Bobby” on the driver’s door. Hodson said, “You can tell the guys at Door Slammers love drag racing and cars. They took the time to make the truck look exactly like it does in real life. They even managed to work out all of the intricacies of our MAK logo on the hood from a terrible picture I sent them.”
It’s evident that the Gap Train in Door Slammers 2 would be popular with anyone associated with MAK, but it turns out the truck is extremely hot in the game.
“Since the release of Gap Train in DS2, it has ranked in the top five popular vehicles within the game. We see the popularity of cars fluctuate as different real racers advertise their vehicles and overall familiarity of the racer with our players,” explained Sellars.
More To Come
Door Slammers 2 constantly adds new features and vehicles within the game. Sellars said, “We are hoping to add one or two new cars with our next update. We are proud to continue to be the most realistic mobile drag racing game on the market and bringing new ideas to our players that are not available in any other game.”
Back To Reality
Since the show, the MAK team had made quite a few changes to the truck. However, some of these modifications were planned, and some weren’t.
“One of the changes we made right away was to the front suspension. We do a lot of bare asphalt no-prep racing, and front-end travel is vital. The truck already had about 5-inches of travel which I thought was good, but Nick said we needed 10,” explained Hudson. The idea here is to get as much lift out of the front of the track to load the rear tires in hopes of a better bite on the sometimes slick surface. To accomplish this feat, the guys fabricated some mounts and changed shocks. Hudson said, ” Now the truck jumps up six to eight inches in the front immediately and just rolls out.”
While the modifications to the front end of the S10 were planned, the crew has made several adjustments to the engine or engines that weren’t. And you might expect that the mostly stock engine wouldn’t hold up long after a ton of passes, but that’s not the case entirely. Taylor built another LS for a Malibu, which he sold, so the team decided to put the new combination in the S10. The powerplant was an aluminum 5.3 with a good set of rods and pistons.
After the guys had finished the swap, they headed to a race in Gulfport, Mississippi, back in February. Unfortunately, things didn’t go as planned. Hodson said, “The guys didn’t put the dipstick tube back in the hole and chose to cap it off. We blew the cap off and oiled down the track during testing, and broke the upper shock mount. We got it all back together that night and were ready for the next day.”
Unfortunately, day two wasn’t any better than the previous day as the truck torched a head going across the finish line of the first pass. Hodson said, “I was going 120-plus when the engine let go. At this point, I was driving on water and trying to get the truck shut down. We figured it was just a head gasket, but we torched the head and block. The worst part was this engine only had five passes on it.”
The guys loaded up and back home to regroup.
More Boost, More Problems
With another engine in the S10, the guys headed to a race in North Carolina only to get put on the trailer after the first round. So they decided to do some more testing.
“At the end of the pass, the driveshaft broke. In the process, it ripped the transmission off the block, taking the threads from the block with it. We had to rebuild the turbo hot side, switch back to the original motor, replace the fuel pump, and get a new driveshaft to make it to the next race,” Hodson explained. “I have a tendency to get attached to my vehicles, and when they get torn up, it really bothers me. So, we had to fix it.”
Hodson and crew thrashed to get the truck back together and finally made some progress with the original engine and a new Force Performance 91mm turbocharger making well over 1,100 horsepower to the wheels. But, disaster struck again, as the $10K Drags-winning engine pitched a rod through the oil pan two weeks ago.
“Right at the finish line we knocked a rod out of it. I got it shut down, but all of the exhaust wrap was oil-soaked and on fire. For a second, I thought we were going to watch the truck burn to the ground, but the rescue crew managed to put it out,” Hodson recalls. “That engine had over 100 passes on it, and we beat on it pretty good with 38-40 pounds of boost at times.”
The team wasted no time and has already put another aluminum 5.3 back in the truck and is ready to go rounds yet again.
Even though it seems the truck has had more downs than ups recently, Hodson is not discouraged and assures us they will get the Gap Train lined out soon. But even if it’s not, he can still work on his reaction times with the truck in Door Slammers 2.
“We do so much stuff now that sometimes we get numb to how lucky we are. I never thought that we would have the chance to build a vehicle and get put in a video game in a million years,” Hodson says. “My kid loves Doorslammers and plays it all the time…and we play it, too. The whole thing was an unbelievable opportunity that I never thought could have happened.”
You can follow Team MAK and the Gap Train on Facebook. And if you want to get behind the wheel of this turbocharged LS-powered machine, check out Door Slammers 2 game on the App Store or Google Play.