Veteran bracket racer turned no prep star “Disco” Dean Karns is many things — exuberant, flamboyant, and incredibly passionate. But one thing he is not is a quitter.
In April, the Ohio native was unhurt in a violent, barrel-rolling crash in his supercharged “Stinky Pinky” Camaro at the Mountain Park Dragway in Kentucky that rendered his famous machine — the very car that went toe-to-toe with Justin “Big Chief” Shearer on Street Outlaws — nearly a loss. But Karns, a professional window tinter by day who, interestingly enough, is a 3-time Lowrider Magazine hydraulic car hopping/dancing world champion, and whose other racecar is named, ahem … the “Pink Taco”, wasn’t about to let one bad night at the races derail his racing efforts. And so he put his head down and quietly went about planning his return.
First, of course, he needed a new racecar. And, with an opportunity to start over with a fresh slate, not just any car would do for someone with a personality as in-your-face as “Disco Dean.” As he shares, his intent from the outset was to find something a bit different — as if a bright pink Camaro named “Stinky Pinky” wasn’t unique enough in itself — and in time, he found precisely what he was after.
The car, a 1972 Dodge Challenger, is an original FM3 code car that came finished in Panther Pink paint — Karns commenting, “a car that came painted pink, you just can’t get any better than that!” Originally built by L&E Race Cars in Canada in 2009 for Pro Modified-style racing, it still sports the steel roof and quarter panels but is well and truly an all-out racecar, complete with a 25.2 double framerail chassis, a full floater rear end housing and the works.
“It’s basically a Pro Mod car built with an original Challenger body — it’s got the rockers, the firewall, the quarter panels, all of it is a factory ’72 Dodge Challenger. The original owner added a fiberglass nose, doors and decklid. And the wheelbase is still factory at 110-inches,” he shares.
“I think this car is going to pick up a lot of Mopar fans …I’ve never had a Mopar fanbase, but from what I can tell already, a lot of these people are really diehard,” Karns adds. There’s a whole group of people I didn’t know about who really stick to their guns when it comes to that Mopar stuff. It’s got the original headlights, the original taillights in it — it looks just like a factory 1972 Challenger.”
To add to the factory appearance, Karns had the roof airbrushed to look like an original white vinyl top. Jim Boitnott at Boitnott’s Custom Paint applied the trademark bright pink finish, along with the airbrushing of the roof and the chrome on the bumpers.
Since acquring the Challenger, it’s been re-worked by Diamond Race Cars and No Limit Race Cars, dialing in the four-link setup, adding the front double framerail, various mounts and tabs, the fuel cell, and fitting the nose.
But one of the elements Karns is most excited about, and that’s most unique on the Challenger, are the front wheels.
“I got together with Chris Lindsay of Lindsay Racing Products to design a front wheel; we’re doing the first ever 3-inch wide, 19-inch front wheel for a door car. I got the idea off of my dragster … I was in the staging lanes and Chris and I are talking and I say, ‘look at all of these door cars, what do they all have in common?’ And he says, ‘well they’re all door cars.’ And I said, ‘no, look at them … dude, the door car front wheel has not changed since the 1960s and 70s. I mean, you can go buy a Chevy with 20-inch front wheels on it from the factory. So I told Chris we needed to do a skinny front wheel like a dragster. All it has to do is go straight — we’re not doing autocross or anything, so why do we need such a wide front wheel?”
With a crack in the block of the Stinky Pinky powerplant, Karns has opted to go a new direction for power, tabbing All In Racing Engines in Cincinnati to assemble a supercharged Alan Johnson Hemi centered around a TFX block with headers from Stainless Works, backed by a two-speed Powerglide mated to an Abruzzi converter.
“Stinky Pinky Too”, as it’s been so aptly coined, will be a jack-of-all-trades machine for no prep, street racing, and anywhere that there’s money on the line. “We’re going to run it everywhere … wherever the money is at, I’m there,” he proclaims.
Although directing at his efforts at this time to the new car, Karns reports that the Camaro has been on the jig to check the chassis for any major structural damage, and if all checks out, will get a new front half and body in hopes of getting it back on the track next year.
Karns is quick to thank the many individuals and companies who have supported him on the new project, including JR1 Racing Oil, Lindsay Racing Products, Wiseco Pistons, Lanning Electric, Jeff Serra at In Motion Solutions, Moroso Performance Products, Ron Hamm of the Door Slammers 2 video game, Racing RV’s. “This car would not be together if it wasn’t for the help of Bundy, Brent Jones of JR1, and Bart and Deb Morris, and of course, my best friend and father, Dean Sr., and my girlfriend, Lynsi,” Karns added.