Mark Dykeman's X275 Camaro Has Changed His Life For The Better

10 min read

Mark Dykeman's X275 Camaro Has Changed His Life For The Better

10 min read

Many racers that we talk with stress how important the family aspect of racing is to them. They'll spend hundreds of hours in the garage preparing the racecar, spend untold sums of money on the latest and greatest parts to be competitive, and tow thousands of miles across the country, often in the wee hours of the morning. When it comes down to it, the memories made at the racetrack with family members and friends who become family make the expenditures of time, effort, and money worthwhile. Massachusetts racer and business owner Mark Dykeman fits squarely into this group.

Several years back, Dykeman purchased the X275 '72 Camaro known as the Blue Goose from Tommy Kirk of MAC FAB Beadlocks, then made arrangements to pick the car up from Kirk at Lights Out 7 down at South Georgia Motorsports Park. It was his first time at SGMP, and if you've been to a Duck X Productions event there, you can understand how it was life-changing for him.

"Up here, we don't have tracks up here that you can stand on the line. It's starting to come around to that now, but you couldn't even do burnouts past the lights. When I first bought the Goose, I'm in there shaking like a leaf. And the guy is telling me to do the burnout, and I couldn't even see the track. There were that many people. So, I held my hands up like, 'What the hell? Get these people out of the way.' And he told me to light them up. He did it again. So, I lit them up, and I was driving through the crowd; they just got out of the way like water. Just got out of the way. I'm like, 'Holy s___. This is insane.' That's what really got me excited … I really couldn't wait to get back down there for No Mercy and get going, you know?" says Dykeman.

Mark Dykeman Camaro

Before that event, Dykeman had never been quicker than 5-teens in his own car — an '80 Camaro he's had for 25 years that they are currently outfitting for son Jack to drive — so the 4.60-capable Blue Goose was a solid step up in performance. He spent a couple of years racing it, and then an unfortunate accident at New England Dragway while competing in NEX275 brought the car's life to an end.

"The next day in the yard, I was out there crying. I didn't know what to do with my life. I didn't honestly know what to do because everything I own is built around racing. The car, everything I have, my whole shop at the house is for engines, doing chassis, everything. And I have the motorhome, my stacker trailer sitting there. I didn't know what to do. I just said, 'To hell with this s___. I'm out.' Tommy Kirk and Ron Rhodes were a big influence on getting me back to the track after I took a week off to gather my thoughts," says Dykeman.

"But it was just such a good time, going racing. You meet so many different people and friends, and we have friends now all across the country. It's just surreal. People I used to look at in magazines; I talk to them all the time now. I never knew these people at all."

That connection forced him to reevaluate the situation, and then an unlikely deal popped up that permitted him to get back into the game quickly.

Enter the 2014 Camaro you see here, which was already under construction by Dennis MacPherson and the team at world-renowned chassis shop DMC Racing in Halifax, Massachusetts.

Mark Dykeman X275 Camaro head on no front sheetmetal

"I took some time off, and Dennis [at DMC] reached out to me and was like, 'I'm so sorry, let me know what I can do.' He was building that car for a guy. And that guy was in deep; he still needed a lot more to finish it. I think he pulled it out of there, and Dennis was like, 'Dude, I would love for you to get that car,'" says Dykeman.

DMC was building the 25.3-spec chassis in question to emulate the COPO Camaro, and by a stroke of luck, or perhaps fate, Dykeman had a 2013 427 COPO Camaro sitting in his garage virtually unused.

"I bought it for an investment. And they obviously lost a lot of value because they kept making them. So, the thing just sat. I reached out to him again, and at that point, the [other] car was already out at Dennis' for a while, and he really hadn't moved forward with it too much. And I'm sure he was getting sick of looking at it, so I told him, 'Listen, we'll make a deal. I'll give you the COPO, give me everything you have, and 30 grand cash,'" says Dykeman.

The seller, Milton Westgate, also owned Westgate Performance, so they made the deal for the car swap, struck up a sponsorship deal to help Dykeman finish the new car, and shook hands on it. Dykeman then brought the car home and turned it into what it is today – an X275 runner that features the best-of-the-best components and a state-of-the-art chassis.

Mark Dykeman X275 Camaro front fender

"I never thought I would own a DMC car, to be honest with you; it's such a big wait to get in there. And it's a lot of money because he builds quality, quality cars. So, for me to get one that was already 80-percent done chassis-wise and ready to rock, I was floored," he says.

Dykeman's day job as the owner of Dykeman Welding & Fabrication – which specializes in structural and ornate steelwork construction — means that he possesses talents many racers don't have. In fact, before he ever started the company, he did some fabrication work at home for local circle-track racers and even built the cage in the '80 Camaro we mentioned earlier, along with cages for several other cars. Finishing the '14 up was right in his wheelhouse as a fabricator, so he and son Jack fired up the welders and got to work completing the car for competition.

A chance dinner meeting Tommy Kirk had with fellow X275 racer Jackie McCarty in attendance turned into McCarty offering Dykeman a killer deal on the all-billet 470 cubic-inch LS engine that's in the car today over a late-night phone call. Today the engine is serviced and maintained by Dykeman's longtime engine builder and tuner guru, Peter Harrell of Harrell Engine & Dyno in Mooresville, NC.

Mark Dykeman X275 Camaro engine close

Inside is a Bryant crankshaft, Wiseco pistons, and R&R billet connecting rods; up top rest Mast Motorsports Mozez 2 solid heads and Jesel steel shaft rockers being fed from a Mast billet upper intake manifold. A ProCharger F-1X 106 crankshaft-driven supercharger provides a massive boost to the engine, enough to get this car into the low 4.20s at 170 mph.

M&M Transmissions' Turboglide 2-Speed Turbo400 transmission and bolt-together torque converter send the power back to a Markow Race Cars/McAmis 9-inch floater housing. Santhuff struts combine with Menscer shocks to control suspension movement, while Weld wheels are at all four corners. The rear ALPHA wheels wear a set of MAC FAB custom beadlocks, and the car rolls on 26-inch frontrunners in the front and rear 275/60-15 Mickey Thompson ET Street Radial Pro tires for X275 competition.

Tuning an engine like this is deftly handled by the car's Holley Dominator system, which Harrell recommended as it is his preference. Jack Dykeman had been to an EFI tuning class but had not worked with the Holley system specifically.

"Jeff Brandenburg from Dykes & Strippers Custom Wiring made the trip from Ohio and wired the whole car at my house. Then, Glenn Payne from MAD Racing Parts got everything up and going, on the phone with my son and him pin-mapping it, my son got to navigate to everything pretty fast and pretty good. So, he ended up learning it pretty well, just over the phone with Glenn," says Dykeman.

Mark Dykeman X275 Camaro checklist

"And Pete's our tutor. Pete's like, 'Listen, I'm going to tune your car, but I don't want to work with ten different people. I want to work with just your son. That's it.' We went back down to Georgia with the new Holley. That was our first outing with Pete. And we were doing awesome. We got the car down deep in the .30s, our first outing. I had never been that fast yet. We had a successful outing, not one hiccup, no issues at all, and he loves to work with my son. The first two days there, Pete was over there going through it and tuning it with my kid. And then after that, Pete goes, 'I'm going to sit in the trailer. You guys do your thing and bring it over to me, and I'll tell you if that's right or wrong.' He was teaching Jack. He would change two or three things on it and explain why he wanted to do that. Just that one week of racing with Pete, my son learned it like crazy. When I go to Georgia, it's still Pete tuning the car, but it's basically my son tuning it, and Pete's overseeing it. We bring it over to Pete before the run, and he looks it over and says, 'Yeah, I think we should change this.' And he explains why."

Any top-flight program like this doesn't get there without the help of sponsors, and Dykeman credits several companies for assisting in his efforts: MAC Fab Beadlocks, Motion Raceworks, ProCharger, MAD Racing Parts, Dykes & Strippers Custom Wiring, Westgate Performance, Harrell Engine & Design, and Menscer Motorsports are among them. The proprietors of those companies have not only become Dykeman's sponsors but also friends. And it's those relationships that keep his drive to compete alive.

Mark Dykeman X275 Camaro

He sums up, "That first time really got me hooked, buying the Goose. And next thing you know, I'm buying stackers and motorhomes and spare motors, and I couldn't wait to get back down there and race again, you know?"

Yes, Mark. We know.


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