Maryland native Chris Rankin is no stranger to the “Street Outlaws” franchise, but he will take on his most arduous racing endeavor to date in 2023 aboard a newly-built Chrysler Conquest for “No Prep Kings” competition.
Rankin, famous for his one-of-a-kind ’87 Conquest known as “Relic,” began the effort nearly two years ago, keenly aware that his 427 cubic-inch, turbocharged, LS-powered machine would be outgunned in the franchise’s only track-racing program. Determined to stay on-brand, he tracked down a Conquest withering away in a field in Florida, made a trade with the owner, and then tasked Henry Fryfogle at HFR Fabrications to construct a world-class new racing machine.
“My other cars are fast cars; the Relic is a 4.20 car, but it’s not a 4,500 horsepower car that can go threes,” Chris says. “I just needed something faster. Henry does a top-of-the-line chassis car up here. He just built Mo Hall’s new car, and he’s had some other really fast radial-tire cars, but he hasn’t had many big-tire customers, so I told him I was doing No Prep Kings, was going to take him outside his wheelhouse a little bit, and he was down for it. He worked with me on the build, and it’s a very well though-out build for the wheelbase that it is. We came up with midplate-to-axle center measurements that we felt like we needed, and created the instant center where we believed they’re needed to get the four-link dimensions right.”
The car, which he’s coined simply “Relic X2” will feature power from a Billy Briggs-built Alan Johnson 481X, with twin 88mm Comp Turbos, which will be guided by GP Tuning utilizing a Holley EFI ECU. Rankin is backing it up with a close-ratio three-speed Turbo 400 and a ProTorque lockup converter, and a Mark Williams 10.5-inch ring-gear center section and full floater axle setup. Penske air shocks have been chosen to help plant the power and keep the nose down downtrack.
“The turbo cars struggle because they can’t 60-foot like the supercharger cars and they weigh more, and without the zoomie headers they tend to wheelie downtrack. Since the surfaces are better early but go away after the 330, the turbo cars have trouble using the lockup and getting into the power where they can make up the difference. I come from a small-tire and no-prep platform, and I do things differently, and I’m really hoping what I do is going to mark this short wheelbase car do what it needs to be able to do out the back. The car was going to be pretty light, so I’ll have about 300-pounds to play with to put the ballast where I want it to make weight.”
The car will fit a 36-inch rear tall drive tire, which has been the tire of choice in the series, despite a weight penalty given up to the cars on a smaller diameter tire. The rubber will wrap around RC Components wheels.
The factory wheelbase of a Conquest is a minuscule 95.9 inches, thereby giving Rankin and Fryfogle just 98.9 inches of wheelbase to work with once the plus-three-inches rule in “No Prep Kings” is instituted. That, needless to say, makes it the shortest car in the series.
“It was difficult to stay with my brand with the Conquest,” Chris shares. “The small-tire car I bought when I was 15 years old. I twas red and out was in rough shape. I bought it for $2,250 off a lady in Washington, D.C. And the only reason I bought that car is because back then Mustangs were 8 to 10 grand, and I didn’t have that kind of money. I grew up poor and didn’t have any family money or anything to leverage buying a car. I was in a car accident and the insurance company gave me $2,200, and that’s what I used to go buy this car. I’ve just kept with that car, and I don’t get rid of anything. I guess I have separation anxiety. I just keep everything when it comes to cars.”
“A guy approached me in 2014 at Mason-Dixon Dragway and said he had a roller he’d sell me. I ended up going to look at it, and bought it for $4,000. I finished it and made a name for myself with that car…we got on the show, beat JJ on a big tire and a small tire, took a lot of heads throughout the other shows, and built my brand around this thing, so I wanted to keep the same car. I knew it was going to limit me, but there’s these imports out there now going fives with 90-some-inch wheelbase cars with the front end hiked up. These guys get down, and they’re fast. So I just stuck it out. The main challenge with my other car has been keeping control of it if I get crossed up; they’re harder to drive when they’re out of shape. If people knew what I’ve had to drive through, it would blow their mind. But a true double framerail car with all four wheels on the ground, it can be done.”
The naming convention for the new ride came along rather haphazardly.
“I told my son this car is twice what the Relic is…it’s the Relic times two, and it just kind of stuck. So it’s Relic X2,” Chris says.
Rankin is aiming to campaign the full “No Prep Kings” season six, barring any major mechanical woes. A second, spare engine is in the works to help ensure staying power in the series, in which he’s hopeful to have the opportunity to race his way in to the invitational. He’s also targeting the World Cup Finals in the fall, intent to go 5.70s in the 1/4-mile. “We may also do small tire with it, too, because the small tire game has gotten really fast.”
The car is expected to be finished in a battleship grey or Nardo grey colorway, keeping a similar them to the Relic.