$10K Drag Shootout: Inside Team Stinky Pinky’s ’86 Camaro

Every team that participated in the Horsepower Wars $10K Drag Shootout showed up with the goal to win, but Team Stinky Pinky took things to a whole different level with the flavor they provided. It didn’t matter what kind of issues they encountered during the build, Team Stinky Pinky rose to the challenge to finish their car in the alloted 10 days. The final product is a 1986 Camaro known as “Dr. Rodknocker” that matches the team’s flamboyant personality with a giant supercharger and in-your-face appearance.

Team Stinky Pinky is a group of hardcore racers from Ohio with a lot of drag racing experience. “Disco” Dean Karns is the leader of this motley crew that consists of his father, Dean Karns, Sr., Brian Sorells, Jimmy Bowling, and Jake Burton. The members of Team Stinky Pinky all have their own areas of expertise, and that came in handy during the build phase of the competition and allowed them to deal with adversity.

The Car

Dr. Rodknocker might be the most rocking ride in the $10K Drag Shootout, but it really wasn’t the team’s first choice. When they saw all of the cars that were available, the Buick Regal really caught their eye, because they’re die-hard GM fans and really didn’t want a Mustang. The car also offered them better options for aftermarket suspension parts that would save on fabrication time.

After the $10K Olympics, it became apparent that Team Stinky Pinky wouldn’t be getting the Regal, so it was time to tackle plan B, and in a hurry.

“I knew we couldn’t put a blown big-block Chevy in a fourth-generation Camaro without cutting the windshield, and in the rules it said we had to have the factory glass. We weren’t going to cut a piece of factory glass in 10 days where it would look good and not break. Since we couldn’t go to Lexan, that left us with the third-generation Camaro and the Falcon. I’m no leaf spring expert, the car was trashed, it was full of rust, and I wasn’t going to convert that car to a four-link, so the Falcon was out. That just left us with the third-generation Camaro, so we had to make it work,” Dean says.

With the team’s plan to build the Regal totally nuked, Dean and his crew set to figuring out how to make the Camaro work. As a new plan was formulated on how to make their driveline fit in the car, along with other parts, Team Stinky Pinky began to tear into the Camaro. Since the car was so heavy, the plan was simple — just gut it and forget it, everything had to go.

“We really didn’t weigh the car, but I’m going to tell you it weighs about 1.5 tons, I think,” Dean says with a laugh. “For weight reduction, we cut out every single possible thing we could get away with that we didn’t think would compromise the car’s integrity or the struts.”

Suspension & Rubber

Having a limited budget and a different car forced Team Stinky Pinky to get very creative with how they built their suspension. Knowing that the stock rear end wouldn’t work, they picked up a used Moser Engineering 9-inch unit to anchor the rear suspension and deal with the boosted power they wanted to put down. They also boxed in the stock lower control arms to add strength and save money while adding an extra hole in the rear end mount to provide extra adjustability.

The torque arm was also reinforced and then relocated with the help of a BMR Suspension relocation kit. To deal with the rear end wanting to squat on one side when the Camaro launched, an airbag was added to the right rear of the car along with a set of used springs from Team Bigun’s Mustang. The final piece of the rear suspension puzzle was a pair of Summit Racing Equipment three-way adjustable shocks.

For the front suspension, Team Stinky Pinky had to think outside the box again to deal with budget constraints. Dean cut part of the front spring coils out to help provide better weight transfer and help the stance. The team also opted to leave the rest of the front suspension stock since aftermarket parts were too expensive; that, and there wasn’t enough time to fabricate custom parts.

For the wheel and tire package on Dr. Rodknocker, Dean and his team needed to find an alternate way to use their Mickey Thompson 26×4 front runner tires and Pro 275 radials in the rear.

“We wanted to run skinnies in the front and tried to find a set of aluminum fronts, but didn’t have it in the budget. We realized a donut rim is the same width as a skinny, and we couldn’t get the Mickey Thompson front runners unless we had a wheel to put them on, so the donut just worked out. We stuck with the stock wheels in the rear because we didn’t have time to mini-tub the car,” Dean explains.

For weight reduction, we cut out every single possible thing we could get away with that we didn’t think would compromise the car’s integrity or the struts. – Dean Karns

Photo gallery


The Powerplant

One of the first things you’ll notice about Team Stinky Pinky’s Camaro is the massive blown big-block Chevy sticking out of the hood. Starting with a Gen 6 Chevrolet block as a base that was bored .60-inches over, engine builder Jimmy Bowling finished the mill’s short-block with an Eagle cast 4.250-stroke crankshaft that rides on MAHLE bearings, Eagle 6.385 I-beam rods, and MAHLE pistons. ProMaxx 317cc big-block heads are sealed to the block with MAHLE head gaskets and ARP studs. Providing the radical lope sound is a custom Comp Cams camshaft from Mike Henson. Inside the engine keeping everything nice and lubricated is 20W50 Royal Purple XPR synthetic oil. Howard Racing roller lifters purchased from Summit rounded out the valvetrain part #91128.

Fuel System & Cooling

Keeping the big Chevrolet fed with plenty of fuel was fairly simple for Team Stinky Pinky. An Aeromotive fuel regulator and A1000 fuel pump brought all the VP Racing Fuels C16 race gas into the engine via a complete plumbing system full of Fragola fittings and hoses. To keep the engine cool, Team Stinky Pinky scavenged the stock water pump from the V6 that was originally in the car and paired it with a fuel cell that was used as a radiator. Fragola again got the call here to move water to and from the engine.

Electronics & Ignition

Going with such a simple yet effective engine combination allowed Team Stinky Pinky to keep their wiring fairly basic. They were able to use a Ron Francis Wiring switch panel along with full wiring harness to connect everything together. The ignition system consists of all E3 parts including the distributor (E3.1410), ignition box, coils, spark plugs, and spark plug wires. Since Dr. Rodknocker could be dipping into the eight-second zone, a Moroso battery box was added to relocate the XS lithium battery to the rear of the car and was connected to the engine with a Moroso cable kit and on/off switch.

Power Adder & Induction

The most striking feature of Team Stinky Pinky’s Camaro is the very used Littlefield 8-71 high helix blower sticking out of the hood. Feeding the air into the blower is a single Holley 1250 Dominator carburetor.

“I’m a roots blower guy. I tune them and race with them, so I wanted to stick to my roots, if you know what I’m saying. We knew we had to have some type of scoop to funnel air into the engine, and it had to be cheap because of the budget. The cheapest thing we could find was the old mailbox, and it also helps us represent where we’re from,” Dean shares.

The Drivetrain

Behind the blown big-block is a TCI Turbo 400 transmission (PN 311005) 3-speed, with no trans brake, that the team picked up from Summit Racing. It was only rated to 775 hp, but it was all they could afford. They opted to go with a unit that had an upgraded sprag to help keep it alive longer. The torque converter is a used 9-inch sized unit from Abruzzi Transmissions & Converters that was used as a test mule, so Team Stinky Pinky got it for a song. Connecting all of these parts to the Moser rearend is a driveshaft from Inland Empire that has 1350 U-joints on each end.

Safety Gear

To make sure Dr. Rodknocker would pass tech, a full 8.50 certified Rhodes Race Cars roll cage was added to the car along with a Rhodes driveshaft safety loop. To hold Dean in place on each pass down the Summit Motorsports Park track surface, a Summit Racing Equipment harness and window net was also installed in the car. To help bring the car to a stop after each run, Baer provided a set of SS-4+ Deep Stage front brakes for the Camaro, and a Stroud parachute was added, as well.

I’m a roots blower guy. I tune them and race with them, so I wanted to stick to my roots, if you know what I’m saying. – Dean Karns

The Dyno

When it came time to move the rollers on the dyno with Dr. Rodknocker, Team Stinky Pinky had a few issues. After missing their first slot, the team had to thrash to get the car ready, and when they did get the car strapped down, a communication issue caused their pull to not be logged, so they didn’t get any data. On the final pull, before time ran out, the team was able to record everything to get a baseline on the car. On a soft pull up to just 5,800 rpm, the Camaro made 631 horsepower and 541 lb-ft of torque. That was plenty for Dean, so he could see where the tune was on the car and how much room he had to turn it up.


At the conclusion of the 10-day build, Team Stinky Pinky had used almost all of their $10,000 budget. At times they struggled to keep on budget since their plan had to be drastically altered by not getting the Regal … but they got the job done. The final product is a radical-looking 1988 Camaro that fits its name of Dr. Rodknocker perfectly.

“The competition for 10 days was very intense, to say the least. It wears you out mentally and was stressful because you had to get parts by a certain time, and you didn’t have a lot of slack to get your plan together. A lot of teams had a plan in advance and got the car they wanted, so they had it easier. It was a stressful, fun-filled, nerve-racking 10 days,” Dean says.

Team Stinky Pinky opted to use what we’re referring to as the “Fresh Prince” money, wherein they can spend up to $1,000 cash over their budget, but will have to race at 3,400-pounds, 200 over the minimum — which is roughly the equivalent of a passenger riding shotgun in Dr. Rodknocker.

Make sure you tune into the $10K Drag Shootout finale to see how Team Stinky Pinky did, and if Dr. Rodknocker was able to hand out some prescriptions for losses to the other teams at the Shakedown At The Summit!

Team Stinky Pinky Car Specifications

Vehicle: 1988 Camaro
Weight: 1.5 Tons
Electrical/Wiring: Ron Francis
Battery Box: Moroso
Battery: 16v XP Lithium
Roll Cage: Rhodes Race Cars
Fasteners: ARP

Engine Block: GM Gen 6 Big-Block Chevy
Crankshaft:  EAGLE 4.25 cast

Pistons/Comp Ratio: MAHLE/9.2:1 PN 929907120
Rings: MAHLE
Rods: EAGLE 5140 6.385
Rod/Main Bearings: MAHLE
Head Bolts/Studs: ARP Studs
Harmonic Balancer: ATI, Used
Cylinder Heads: Pro Maxx 317cc Big Block Heads
Camshaft: COMP Cams custom grind from Mike Henson
Lifters: Howard’s Cams Roller Lifters
Pushrods: Manton
Rocker arms: Garage sale special
Valves: ProMaxx
Valve Springs: ProMaxx
Head Gaskets: Supplied by MAHLE MLS
Starter: VES
Flexplate: Summit Racing Equipment

Exhaust: Zoomies
Carb/Throttle body: Holley 1250 Carburator
Fuel pump: Aeromotive A-1000
Fuel Regulator: Aeromotive
Spark Plugs: E3
Coil(s): E3

Power Adder
Blower: Littlefield 8-71 High Helix

Transmission: TCI TH400 3-speed, Non-transbrake, #311005
Converter: Abruzzi 9-inch blower unit
Driveshaft: Inland Empire
Shifter: Winters 3-Speed Reverse Pattern
Rear End Gear: Moser
Rear End Housing: Moser 9-inch
Axles: Moser 35-spline
Spool: Moser
Gears: 3.73

Front suspension: Stock
Front shocks: Stock
Rear suspension: Factory with airbags
Rear Shocks: Summit Racing three-way adjustable
Front Brakes: Baer disc SS-4
Rear Brakes: Stock Drum
Front Wheels: Donut
Rear Wheels: Stock
Front tires: Mickey Thompson
Rear tires: Mickey Thompson 275

About the author

Brian Wagner

Spending his childhood at different race tracks around Ohio with his family’s 1967 Nova, Brian developed a true love for drag racing. When Brian is not writing, you can find him at the track as a crew chief, doing freelance photography, or beating on his nitrous-fed 2000 Trans Am.
Read My Articles

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