Updated May 15, 2002

My Dodge Caravan, "Mean Mini", is a vehicle leading 4 lives.
        First, Mini is a family hauler that's taken the clan to Walt Disney World & back (3,000 miles) without a hitch.

        Second, she's a cargo hauler. With the vehicle lightened by 300 lbs, she can automatically take 300 extra pounds of payload without noticing it.  And because she has polyvinyl airbags in the rear, she can handle another few hundred pounds better than stock. That's how I was able to haul thirteen hundred lbs of cargo several hundred miles with fairly good handling (and acceleration). She could have easily carried more!

        Third, she's a snow-going vehicle, like a Jeep. With the air bags pumped up and the vehicle sitting higher than normal from being lightened, the ground clearance is good. The limited slip differential and big gnarly old fashioned snow tires really grab. A whopping 70% of the vehicle's weight is on the driven wheels, because of the rear end being lightened more than the front end, during it's diet. I often take my daughter joy riding in 8 or 9 inches of un-plowed snow, on grass and dirt roads.


         Feb 26, 1999   They bite very well...

 Fourth, she's a drag racer !!

When the light turns GREEN, the van turns  MEAN!!

Racing from 6PM to 10PM in New England means that most of it is done under the lights in Spring and Fall.

.  .

.  .

        She happens to win a lot more races than she loses. And that's running against almost all V8's. Very seldom does a 4 banger take on Mini. Example:
        Last 2 times out at the track *without* the lightweight race wheels on = Sept. 23, NED, made 2 passes; beat a 13 second Camaro, and a 13 second Corvette; both very shiny black, and rather pretty. Both went home a little sad...     Sept. 30, NED, made 4 passes. Forgot to write down the model of each car that I ran, but 2 of them were Mustang 5.0's.  Mini won all 4 rounds.

Here's her story:

             In September of 1988 I purchased a new 1989 Dodge Caravan with the 2.5 turbo 1 motor. It's best quarter mile was 16.5, on a cold night. I threw in Mobil 1 oil, @ stuck on a K@N air filter. My muffler man welded a 2.5" exhaust pipe onto the back of the cat, with the cat acting as the muffler. At New England Dragway Mean  Mini cut a 2.437 60' time, and 16.182 @ 84.11 mph.
              I put in colder spark plugs, a colder thermostat, & bled the boost to 12.5#s.  Back at NED the mini ran 16.01 @ 84.58.  The van got a manual fan switch (to keep the fan on at the track).  I put a solenoid air valve on the wastegate line bleed-off so that I could control boost from a toggle switch on the dash.  That way I could leave the line on 5 lbs. without spinning the tires, then flip the switch up to 13 lbs. while under way.  This produced a 2.38 launch, & a quarter of 15.766 @ 85.86 mph..  A little practice with the HI-LO switch= 2.28 60', and 15.558 qtr mi.
              A    MAP SENSOR BLEED TO RAISE THE CUT OUT POINT  was made & installed on the map sensor line to keep the stock computer from shutting me off at high boost.  I threw on a Spearco intercooler and ran 15.111 @ 89.45 mph..
             My Cyberdyne rich-lean gauge told me that fuel was needed.  I installed a solenoid fuel valve on the fuel return line to close the return as the boost climbs in order to raise fuel pressure.   ADDING FUEL  Mini ran a 14.854 @ 91.40, at 14 lbs. boost.

People enjoy watching a minivan heat the hides.

            The 3 speed auto tranny was beat up.  After a beefed up rebuild, & a hike to 15.5 lbs boost, Mean Mini cut a 14.563 @ 92.75 mph.  This was a 3,250# vehicle with 30 sq. feet of frontal area.  Any time that you're doing tranny work is a great time to spend $400 - $500 on a limited slip differential conversion. E-mail Seth Prentiss at: LIMITED SLIP

  In 1991 I ran a single NOS fogger nozzle rated 70-80 hp., and pulled a 13.43.  This proved that the drivetrain had a chance to take low 13's.

In 1991 and 1992 Turbo Magazine and High Performance Mopar magazine had something to say about Mini ; read the blurbs at:   MAGAZINES

         In 1992 I got rid of the nitrous, after deciding to beat my own record without it.  I found myself back in the 14.6's.  I added an extra fuel injector on the intercooler tube 6" before the throttle body, turned on by a pressure switch at 14 psi.  The coil was moved closer to the distributor, and a short solid-core coil wire put on.   Sticky street legal tires were mounted on 15" aluminum Daytona wheels.  Two coils of each spring were clamped together to stiffen the suspension, & lower the van.  100 lbs of weight was removed from the rear half.  I took the balance shafts out of the engine.  At NED the 60' time was 2.217 with a quarter mile of 14.170 @ 96.03 mph. (18lbs boost)
        13.949 turned out to be the best time possible on the tiny  Mitsubishi turbo, which could not produce more than 18-18.5 psi.

You can even kinda see old Gus in this night time shot.

              I knew that a  Garret would flow much better than the little Mitsubishi, and that a Super 60 would be better still.  The super 60 turbo, with a 3" exhaust, ran 13.764 right out of the box at 97.67.  After the addition of a sixth injector and positraction, Mean Mini cut a 2.08 60' time, and a quarter mile of 13.569 @ 99.80.
              In september of 1994 I drove 330 miles to Cecil County Dragway in Maryland.  The van out-accelerated 7 cars out of 7, and cranked out a 13.484 @ 101.36 mph in 95 degree heat.
            Then she packed up and purred home after churning out 26 lbs+ boost with no trouble.
          At NED, on a 75 degree Saturday afternoon, I made 2 passes with my new underdrive pulley on. Boost was 27 lbs.  The tires spun (2.194 60') to a 13.475 @ 102.29 mph.  On the second pass the tires spun less (2.025) and gave up a 13.184 @ 102.57 mph.

            Mini kept the big Super 60 turbo for a while, but eventually donated it to Slugmobile, my 1989 Acclaim. Mini received an old used stock Garrett T2 turbo. She couldn't get more than 21 psi out of the old Garrett. She still managed to run 13.7's!

           In May of 1998 I messed up my ankle really bad. Ankles were not designed to bend 90 degrees! That happened right after Anthony Berge  was kind enough to put a Super 70 (large turbocharger) in Mini! ...And a new high-flow fuel rail, along with a new MP "mild" head. I had to put racing on hold. In 1998  I was able to race at  the track with Mini only 3 times. I went up 4 times, but had a broken wheel stud on one trip, which prevented any serious passes.
        The first good trip of 1998 was to Lebanon Valley, New York.  Anthony, or "AJ", did a good job, and the turbo performed well. I dialed in the new Super 70 turbo during the day, with a best (last pass) of 13.192. The very next time out, with the engine dialed in fairly well, netted a Camaro-killing 13.183, and a Corvette-killing 13.186. Still nowhere near maximum boost!

             My OTC "Mindreader" (engine scanner)  told me that the timing was being pulled back by 14 degrees in #2 cylinder during all those 13.1's!! I was running low 13's on 3 1/2 cylinders!
            My plan is to fix the timing and mount the lightweight race wheels, which she's never tried, yet. Should be instant 12's, on the same set up as last time out.


        The "instant 12's" never happened in 99! I caught Lyme disease and couldn't go in the sun (from the medication) all Summer.
        Sadly, I caught Lyme's Disease AGAIN  (Arrrgghhh!!!)  in 2000, and NEVER got to the track to race!
        Now it's 2001, and I'm still hurtin'! I have knee and shouder troubles that forced me to give up wrenching. I had to sell my lightweight race wheels and slicks. I'm busy with Slugmobile right now, but will run the van on street tires from now on, and will set the street tired minivan record, if I don't have it already... ;)

       My pal Paul Smith has been healthy, and has taken his minivan into the 12's while I've been sick.  So Mini currently bows to Paul, but remains minivan Drag Racing Champion of 1990, 1991, 1992, 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 1997, 1998, and "no-nitrous" champ of 1999. (Cliff Sebring had a 13.0 second nitrous minivan in 1999)

        Mini now sports a cat and all season radials, and will be the only van running 13's in 100% street legal form!

    Mini takes out a turbo Shadow

 Watch Mean Mini do a burnout! The file is large, but less than 3 meg; try downloading at an "off hour", like at night.