The name Dominator – Joe Woods to his mum – is synonymous with what I reckon is the most exciting reality TV racing series of the century so far: Street Outlaws. Essentially, it’s about a bunch of Oklahoma guys taking racing to the streets, and Joe has been a standout on the show from day one with his big-block Chev-powered 1967 Dodge Dart.
First published in the December 2022 issue of Street Machine
Joe’s easy-going nature, the fact that he’s a budget battler trying to manage a family, business and racing commitments, and his skills under the hood and behind the wheel have all made him enormously popular among racers and fans.
Joe and his brother Shane originally built the Dart in their back shed. The initial motor set-up was a tunnel-rammed big-block Chev with up to four kits of nitrous. Over time, Joe developed an online friendship with Sydney-based car builder and tuner Dale Heiler of Castle Hill Performance. Dale, a prominent Haltech dealer, eventually headed over to the States and fitted Haltech EFI to a whole bunch of the Street Outlaws cars, with the promise that he would assist with remote tuning back in Australia.
That new EFI/nitrous combination on Joe’s Dart quickly evolved into a nitrous-assisted twin-turbo affair, and then one with just all-out twin turbos. “When it comes to setting up the car with tuning, I owe every bit of my Haltech stuff and the ability to manage this system to Dale,” Joe says.
Aside from the full Haltech Nexus vehicle management system, the big mover and shaker in the development of the car has been the new, full-billet, Aussie-made Noonan Hemi engine. “They are an amazing engine, essentially based on a Chrysler Hemi but with all the modern refinements,” Dale says.
Joe has gone for a full water-jacketed engine over a solid block, which you’d think would have added a lot of extra work. Not so, according to him.
“The only real work it created for me was getting the air out of the system when I first put the engine together,” he says. “My whole deal was, this is Street Outlaws and I want to street-drive my car. My goal is that when we are not filming, I’m going to attempt to survive some drag-and-drive events like Rocky Mountain Race Week, Drag Week and that kind of stuff, and I just can’t do that with a solid engine.”
Joe’s even hoping to one day take part it our own Street Machine Drag Challenge! “We have discussed bringing the car to Australia to do Drag Challenge, and I’m 100 per cent in,” he says. “The hang-up is getting the car back in time to film. Getting there is no issue, as it’s the end of our season; your summer is our winter.”
Joe’s current Dart is not the original car; it’s version two. He and Shane do most of the fab work themselves, and while they didn’t build the whole chassis, they did fit a double frame rail, moved the engine and transmission rearwards, remade the wheelie bars and four-link, and fabricated the new headers and turbo piping.
The rear end is a sheet-metal nine inch with a 10.5 Quick Performance gearset, swinging rims clad in 35×13 rubber, which is essentially what is holding the car back. To run with the big dogs, Joe needs move to a 36×17 or thereabouts, which just won’t happen without fitting a new back-half in the car.
Aside from the Haltech Nexus and the Noonan mill, other Aussie components in the Dart include Plazmaman clamps on plumbing joins, XX Racing injectors, a PWR electric water pump and Speedflow fittings. “I’ve got to tell you right off the bat, I have not had a single Aussie piece that I do not like,” Joe enthuses. “The Noonan Hemi just makes me speechless, to be honest. [Plus] the Speedflow stuff, Plazmaman parts, and I’ve got a floater rear end housing that I don’t have set up yet from Race Products.”
Joe has recently changed from running Precision turbos to a set of twin 88s from Harts Turbo. “At 66lb of boost, the turbos are pretty maxed-out, and the 521ci Noonan would be making every bit of 3800hp,” Dale Heiler says.
The car has every conceivable sensor for data acquisition, from converter pressure to shock travel sensors, EGTs, wheel speed and many more. Dale is responsible for fuel and ignition tuning, while Joe does the power management based on track conditions.
With the hectic race schedule taking Joe from one side of the country to the other on a weekly basis, maintenance on the Noonan mill rolls around pretty fast.
The motor gets a new set of rods every 40 passes or with every big over-rev. Joe has managed two seasons out of a set of pistons, with big-end and main bearings changed at 20 passes and valves at 40.
“When we are not filming, I’m going to attempt some drag-and-drive events like Rocky Mountain Race Week and Drag Week”
To date, the Dart has run a best of 3.89@200mph over the eighth, which is pretty impressive on a no-prep track. But there’s an overhaul in progress that should see it go even quicker.
“We are in the middle of building a new car with a whole new chassis,” Joe says. ”Unfortunately we only get a small window to build the car from November to February, and we are just not quite finished. It will be a bit different insofar as it will be fitted with a Daytona rear wing and front end.
”The car has steel roof and quarters and will be a double frame-rail build with a funny car ’cage and the Race Products floater rear end. We will be getting a 36-inch tyre under the rear and have really focused on building a car that will be easy to work on.”
We can’t wait to see Joe’s revamped Dart kicking arse both on the street and track. Here’s hoping those Drag Challenge plans become a reality!