$10K Drag Shootout 3: Inside Team MAK And The “Gap Train” S-10

Many viewers have chosen a favorite team to follow during the build episodes during this season of the $10K Drag Shootout No Prep Edition, presented by Lucas Oil. Even those viewers cheering for other teams also concede a soft-spot for Team Mid America Kustoms. The group of Central Indiana no-prep racers have endeared themselves not only to the show viewers but also to their fellow competitors.

“We were ready for anything from the start. When the covers were rolled from the four donor cars, we knew we could make any of them work,” said Hodson.

Team Leader Adam Hodson is joined by his business partner and team driver, Nick Taylor. The other team members offering varied talents include fab-man Wesley Butler, engine specialist Mick Bodigan, overall assembly and wiring talent Tod Gunder, and comprehensive assembly craftsman Matt Donovan.

The Truck & Chassis

As winners of the first team competition, Team MAK earned the right to select the first vehicle, which was their desired Chevy S-10. The whole team knew the truck was their top choice because it is so versatile. These guys have loads of experience reworking the leaf spring rear suspension to be no-prep effective.

All teams went into rapid disassembly mode. With the S-10 offered minus the engine and transmission, Team MAK began with a significant advantage. “With a few bolts, the bed was removed, and it appeared to the other teams that we had a big head start,” described Hodson. “And that was fine with us (chuckles).”

Their game plan split the team in two at this point, with some going after the mods necessary to the front suspension and 5.3 LS engine mounts; meanwhile, other team members went after perfecting that leaf rear suspension.

The team knew they needed the most adjustable shocks imaginable to hold horsepower to this S-10 suspension. With QA1 High Performance shocks supporting the teams, its new MOD Series twin-tube coilover shocks were included with the S-10 — these feature 24-valving selections for ultra fine adjustments.

Their Summit Racing Equipment Speed Card started getting a workout when replacing the original control arms with Dorman and Moog replacement hardware. The gameplan entailed stripping the factory leaf spring down to only the main leaf and one secondary leaf. They ordered Calvert Racing leaf spring sliders and CalTracs low profile traction bars.

With suspension mods progressing, the team shifted efforts to the roll cage assembly. Not only did they fabricate a unique cage design, but the single most stirring reaction by the other teams came from the installation of their "disputed" 80mm BorgWarner cast turbo above the cab for all to see.

Team forces then joined to complete a Chris Alston Chassisworks X-brace style, 10-point cage assembly. A BMR Suspension driveshaft loop went in underneath, along with a team-fabricated transmission mount. The interior also has a complete Ron Francis Express Series Switch Panel and Bare Bonz Race Wiring Kit.

Summit brand leaf spring perches and Calvert U-bolt kits buttoned their rear suspension onto their self-narrowed Ford 8.8 housing. The differential received a host of Moser Engineering and Spicer internals, including Moser Engineering 35-spline axles, spool, housing ends, and much more. The team chose a 4:10 ratio Spicer ring and pinion and blue-coated U-joints to complete the assembly.

Wheels & Tires

MAK went two-for-two as they won the second team competition, as well. The reaction time contest not only scored new Weld Wheel AlumaStar 2.0's for the truck, but subsequently opened up a big amount of their build budget to go somewhere else on their shopping list.

 The S-10 rolling stock is filled out with support by Mickey Thompson Tires. The rear slicks are 3005s (28/10.5/15R) and 30071 front tires. Hodson detailed some of the massive ballast installed over the rear end to get the truck to plant these tires under the leaf spring suspension.

“With the required 3,550-lb minimum base weight, we knew the lightweight S-10 would be way under that,” Hodson explained. “With the truck together and Nick in the seat, we still had 550-pounds to add. We ran to a surplus metal store not far away and got some metal and concrete mix to make a big-honkin’ weight box.”

Wilwood drag racing brake kits were installed front and rear. A Wilwood aluminum compact master cylinder is in the stock firewall location. A Wilwood brake line kit and a Summit Racing staging line-lock handle the remainder of their braking duties.

Between the concrete-filled weight box and the fabricated ballast bars surrounding the rear end, Team MAK placed over 550-pounds of ballast on the rear. That gave them what they calculate as an ideal 54-percent weight bias towards the rear of the track for the no-prep shootout.

The Powerplant & Transmission

With pretty severe valvetrain damage inside of what they thought was a good, 140,000-mile aluminum 5.3 LS engine, they were not slowed down in the slightest. Making big power with high-mile LS-engines is what these Hoosiers do, and it’s not their first rodeo at getting scorched equipment to live just a little longer and win a few additional races.

We had a backup engine in the trailer that had lived through a lot of race week-style competition. The other teams thought we were sneaking in a ringer, but we showed them multiple bent and twisted connecting rods inside the block, to their astonishment. We were going to get another 12 passes or so out of her. It’s  what we do – Adam Hodson

With this engine approved by Tech Director Lonnie Grim, a used-engine value was re-established against their budget, and the MAK guys moved forward. The block is now held together with a fresh grouping of ARP fasteners — Pro Series head and main studs, a balancer bolt, header bolts, and transmission bellhousing bolts were all added from the Summit budget. Various gaskets were provided by Victor Reinz for the cylinder heads and other sealing needs.

Lucas Oil supplied all of the lubricant needs, including Lucas SYN SAE 10W-40 racing oil, Sure Shift ATF fluid and SYN L9 racing gear oil. The teams also had plenty of Lucas Oil racing engine assembly grease, brake parts cleaner, and contact cleaner to use.

After a conversation with COMP Cams tech assistance MAK chose a .605 lift, 231/237 duration camshaft (Part #54-332-11). With the team confidence in the heads, remaining valvetrain, and short block components, their engine build labor was very light.

A GM Turbo 400 came out with the team. Inspectors derived it was a stock piece with the addition of a new forward clutch hub, direct drum, and sprag. Their setup is mated to a Precision torque convertor and PRW Industries Xtreme Duty SFI Hi Inertia Quick Launch flexplate. A new B&M/Hurst Stealth Magnum Grip Pro shifter will control the gear changes.

Induction, Power Adder, and Fuel Supply

With the 80mm BorgWarner sitting high for all to see, getting the exhaust and intake sides plumbed to and from the engine needed a large selection of various tubing from Summit Racing and Vibrant Performance. A VS Racing 60mm wastegate is controlled by an Innovate Motorsports High Resolution Solenoid.

A large Summit brand universal intercooler fills the S-10 grill area. The team devised their own CO2 cooler bar out front. An LS truck-style intake was then outfitted with a set of eight VS Racing 120 lb-hr fuel injectors and ICT Billet fuel injector spacers.

A Holley Terminator X engine control unit is the master control of all boost, timing, and fuel parameters for the engine combo. E3 Spark Plugs, E3 ultra-high output LSX coils, and E3 plug wires rounded out the ignition. More than 35-different part numbers were chosen from Summit Racing, Vibrant Performance, Earls, and Russell Performance to plumb hoses, fittings, and hose ends.

Safety Equipment

Impact Racing Products outfitted each team driver with proper safety equipment. Nick Taylor fitted up with a multi-layer Nomex jacket and pants, Impact Draft TS helmet, and G6 SFI 3.35 gloves. A Summit Racing transmission blanket and an Impact five-point, latch/link safety harness fulfill the safety equipment list.

The Dyno

The MAK team rolled onto the chassis dyno for their test with ample time. During the first pull, they could only achieve 331 horsepower due to wastegate issues. They began moving in the right direction with a 551 peak horsepower pull with their remaining dyno time, but still, not even close to the numbers they wanted.


Team Mid America Kustoms has some gremlins to sort out before eliminations take place out at Barona Dragstrip. What makes it most interesting is that every team is heading out to the track with technical problems of their own.

It is an amazing season-three competition to see the hurdles every team has had to overcome during the 10 day build. It’s not just a matter of what team is quickest, but can fundamentally overcome the hurdles each car faces between finishing their builds and raceday.

Make sure you tune into the conclusion of season three of the $10K Drag Shootout No Prep Edition aired on the MAVTV network, HorsepowerWars.com as well as on Facebook and Instagram.

Team MAK “The Gap Train” S-10 Truck Specifications

Vehicle: 1984 Chevrolet S-10 short bed
Weight: 3,350 lbs, plus 200 lbs level 2 “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air” rule

Driver’s helmet: Impact Champ SNELL15 – #19715612
Driver’s gloves: Impact G6 SFI3.3/5 – #34200610
Driver’s suit: Impact SFI 3.2A/15 –  Jacket #29300610, Pants #29400610
Safety harness: Impact 5-Point harness – #5911111
Engine diaper: Summit Racing engine diaper – #SUM-0590200
Rear window: Optix lexan sheet
Windshield: Optic Armor S10 formed windshield 1/4″ thick – #OA-S10821-4DB
Hood pins/DZUS: hood pins – #SUM-490800
Engine and Bellhousing fasteners: ARP Bolts

Chassis and Suspension
Roll cage kit: Chris Alston Chassisworks 10-Point rollcage X brace style#7003
Driveshaft loop: BMR – #BMR-DSL007
Floor plates: Allstar – #AAF-ALL22640
Chassis tabs: Allstar brackets – #AAF-ALL60031
Roll bar padding: Summit Racing 45.1 padding – #SUM-590102
Harness mounting tabs: Summit Racing mounting tabs – #SUM-510312
Steering, steering column, steering wheel: S-10 stock
Seat: Summit seat– #SUM-G2100
Steering rack & pinion: Stock

Switch panel: Ron Francis, Express Series Switch Panel Pro Race version – #SP-80
Wiring Kit: Bare Bonz Race Wiring Kit – #BB16
Battery: Dynabatt 12v by Performance Distributors – #5575A
Battery box: Moroso Performance  – #74051
Battery switch: Moroso battery disconnect switch – #74101
Alternator: Tuff Stuff Corvette Alternator – #7724NB

Front shocks: QA1 Shock MOD 11.50” – #M511PR, #M511PL
Front springs: QA1 Spring Chrome Silicone 3 – #QA1-11GSF250
Front coil-over kit: QA1 PRO-COIL Aluminum MOD-ADJ — #MG401-10350C
Rear coil-over kit: QA1 PRO-COIL Aluminum MOD-ADJ — #MG401-10350C
Anti-Roll bar: Rhodes Race Cars Pro Series Anti-Roll Bar Kit — #RHC-19-0002-24
Traction bar: Calvert CalTracs — #CLV-3701
Leaf springs – Stock
Leaf spring perches: Summit Leaf spring perches – #SUM-720025
Leaf Spring U-bolts: Calvert U-bolts – #CLV-UR300X90
Front brakes: Wilwood Drag Kit Front Brakes, GM G-Body – #140-1033-BD
Rear brakes: Wildwood disc brakes – #WIL-140-2119-BC
Master cylinder: Wilwood M/C Tandem, Compact – #260-15540-BK
Brake line kit: Wilwood Flexline Kit – #WIL-220-7056
Master cylinder/pushrod: Wilwood – #WIL-260-15540-BK
Line lock: Summit Staging Lock – #SUM-760000

Transmission: Rebuilt GM TH400 – rebuilt
Torque converter: Precision non-lock-up converter — used
Shifter: B&M/Hurst – Stealth Magnum Grip Pro – #81052
Transmission safety blanket: Summit Racing transmission blanket – #SUM-590300
Flexplate: PRW Industries Chromoly SFI GM LS Series — #1834600

Rear End housing: Ford 8.8 reared housing from Ford Explorer – used
Axles, spool, yoke, driveshaft: Moser Engineering — #A5000
U-joints: Spicer Blue Coated – #SPL30-1350XC
Ring & Pinion: Spicer 8.8 4:10 gear – #2020737
Retainer plates: Moser Mustang Retainer Plates – #9750
Housing ends: Moser Housing Ends – #7750

Front wheels: Weld Alumastar 2.0 – #WLD-88B-1704204
Rear wheels: Weld Alumastar 2.0 Black anodized wheels – #788B-510280
Lug Nuts: Enemies Everywhere, titanium rear lug nuts 5/8″ – donated
Front tires: Mickey Thompson 3002 fronts– #3002
Rear tires: Mickey Thompson 3055S rears – #3055S

Short block: Stock GM 5.3 short block – used
Rods: Stock GM 5.3 rods – used
Oil pan: Moroso GM LS A-Body rear sump – #MOR-20150
Oil pump: Moroso GM LS high volume pump — #22120
Oil pump pick-up: Moroso rear sump kit — #24050
Starter: Proform High-Torque Mini-Starter – #66273
Fuel pump: Holley Electric Fuel Pump — #HLY-12-1800
Fuel filters: Holley – #HLY-162-577
Fuel regulator: Tanks fuel regulator adjustable — #TNK-AFPR1
Race fuel: Renegade Pro E85

Cylinder heads: Stock GM – used
Valves and valve springs: stock
Camshaft: COMP Cams custom ground camshaft – #54-332-11
Rocker Arms, lifters, timing chain: Stock GM
Pushrods: Stock
Head gaskets: BTR Summit Racing — #BTC-BTR22033
Oil Pan gasket: Moroso GM LS — #93152

Engine oil: Lucas Oil Racing high performance motor oil – #10911-1
Automatic transmission fluid: Lucas semi-synthetic Sure Shift – #10052-1
Assembly grease: Lucas Oil Assembly grease – #LUC-10891-1

Radiator: PRW Industries racing radiator 19 x 29 – #PQX-5421931
Water pump: Stock
Trans cooler: Derale Electra-Cool – #DER-15800

Power Adder, Engine Electronics and Induction
Turbo: BorgWarner 80mm cast – #BWW-177287
Wastegate: Summit Racing wastegate – #VSG-VSR60WG
: Holley Terminator X Engine Management System – #HLY-550-903
Solenoid: Innovative MAC solenoid boost – #INN-3883
Intake tubing: Summit Racing aluminum – #SUM-29442
Exhaust tubing: AP – #APH-10641
Intercooler: Summit Racing Universal – #SUM-260005

EFI intake: Stock GM truck
Fuel injectors: VS Racing – #VSG-0280158821
Fuel injector spacers: ICT billet aluminum – #ICB-551287-ls058
Throttle body adapter: ICT billet throttle body adapters – #ICB-551511xg
Ignition coils: E3 Racing ignition coil pack set – #E3-600
Spark plug wires:
GM LS OE Replacement Wire Set – #E3-1002
Spark Plugs: E3 – #E3.53


About the author

Todd Silvey

Todd has been a hardcore drag racing journalist since 1987. He is constantly on both sides of the guardwall from racing photography and editorship to drag racing cars of every shape and class.
Read My Articles

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