An End of an Era of Fun. Good Bye Dog Car!

Here little Christa cheerfully peels off an old sticker and applies some new ones.  Man, she is little in this picture. I would say this is when she was about 4 years old so this is in 2004 or something.

So about this time, I decided to get innovative as an engineer and do some serious stuff. I got my buddy, Brian Kono of Afterhours Automotive, to make a splitter and belly pan for the Stillen front end I had just bought after determining that it had the best potential for being the base of some good aero.  Brian did a bang-up job and made everything strong, stiff and quick release so the whole front end could come off with a couple of dzus fasteners.  Brian also made a ram air cold air box using one of the ducts in the air dam.  He also relocated the oil cooler and made a vented duct using the other duct in the air dam.  Finally, he made a duct so the radiator air would exit out the hood vents. This was one of the first club racers in our region to address aero and one of the first cars to make a splitter.  Everyone wondered what this plank was and made fun of it at first until they realized that it made 1-2 seconds a lap difference and I was now one of the fast guys, even with less than legal power.  The first reaction was to try and ban it but I said that NASA needed all the cars to look more professional.  Finally, I said if they banned my aero, I would leave and take my media coverage with me.  I ended up getting my way!

About this time I added some mild JWT cams and did some tuning to get the car up to the power to weight ratio legal limit of 155 whp.  I started to podium most of the time and qualify well. I think I won my first race around this period and had a couple of lap records and pole positions too. I was happy as I had never won in any sport I had ever participated in before!

For the next year, I did a major retrofit of the Dog Car to bring it into what I consider its heyday. This is the most famous variation of the Dog Car. I had the cage further reinforced by Brian adding more bracing and gusseting.  I revised the shock valving and spring rates again to make the car rotate better. It was during this period that the car got a lot of media attention, being in just about every magazine at the time, and a reputation of being an underpowered but scrappy underdog that people rooted for.

I also had Ritchie Watanabe lengthen the lower control arms and cant them forward to increase the caster and widen the front track.  I also corrected the roll center and reduced the bump steer. In the rear, I added the stiffer and less compliant Scott-Russel linkage from a B15 SE-R.  I also built an engine specifically for the class with more compression for maximum torque and a higher rev limit, keeping the peak power to 155 with ECU tuning. Finally, the car handled close to as well as the Hondas and I could easily run up near the front. I won a bunch of trophies and a couple of more wins during this time. I also did pretty well in the FWD classes in Time Attack and Super Lap Battle. I even beat Dai Yoshihara at Super Lap Battle and got a good spread in Super Street.  Little did I know that Dai and I would become good friends and embark on many adventures around the world in later years.


  1. I am glad to see the Dog car has found a new home. I am also glad I got to see her in person when I was in SoCal earlier this year. I have followed this car for many years and it will be a shame to see her go. I have been building my sentra for the past 20 years, slowly trying to get to the same level as the Dog twins. Great write up, and great job on a great car. Good bye Dog car!

  2. Some of those photos reminded me of the old “robot vs monkey” articles in SCC. Its fun to see a longer story to tie it all together rather than what could fit in the magazine.

    1. Poor Jared, his performance was so poor the series didn’t continue. The monkey was so bad, he never made it past the morning warm-up! They never did get the story because his car always broke before qualifying.

  3. That was a superb intro/out-tro to Dog Car at the end of it’s tenure with you. I think even for long time-ish readers of MotoIQ, the story of this car is not known. The stories from its development of a crap car into a competitive car with good handling and good aero would make great articles.

    If they are already on print somewhere, I hope they can be brought together here for your global readers.

  4. In the last picture, you can see the Sentra has a well balanced suspension with minimum roll, while the Acura appears to have an oversized rear bar, and low roll stiffness up front. Great job on developing that car Mike !

    1. I believe it had no front bar, really stiff rear bar and rear springs which is popular with Honda racers. Although this was a competitive car in a higher series I was proud that the Dog Car with its crude suspension was much faster in the turns. A lot of this was due to Dai’s driving as well.

  5. I remember reading about this car in SCC. Jared’s B13 too. Great memories. Thanks for sharing this car with us for so long Mike!

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