Shake A Leg: Chris "Legmaker" Harrigan's 2006 Dodge Charger SRT-8

10 min read

Shake A Leg: Chris "Legmaker" Harrigan's 2006 Dodge Charger SRT-8

10 min read

In today's world of high-powered factory-built performance cars, Dodge stands out from others as the company has committed to stuffing the Gen III Hemi engine into just about every chassis that has enough room to accommodate it. That proliferation of Hemi performance has sucked in enthusiasts from all walks of life, of which Chris Harrigan is one. Harrigan has quite an interesting story about how he ended up with one of the Hemi community's trendsetting machines and racing the car regularly, along with owning a business catering to the Hemi market.

"I was driving German — BMW specifically — and I had two of them. Didn't need two of them. I was single at the time, decided to get rid of it, and was looking for a high-horsepower 4-door sedan. And I was looking at M5, but they were a little out of my price range — we're talking 2005. I stumbled across an SRT8 Charger in December of '05 that a neighbor of mine had just bought. I didn't even know what it was. I remember driving by it when I was on my way to work. I looked and went, "Holy crap, that's a cool-looking car," says Harrigan.

Legmaker Charger close front quarter

"At 7 a.m., I got out of my car, walked onto this guy's driveway — I didn't know him — and started checking the car out. Brembo brakes, I loved the wheels. So I looked and it and said, 'Dodge Charger.' And I'm like, 'I didn't even know they made a Charger anymore, especially 4-door.' I just had no concept of what the American cars were at the time; I'd been driving German stuff for so long."

After a few weeks of poking around, he was able to find a dealer who was willing to swap his two BMWs for one of the 4-door Hemi Chargers, and that was that. He avoided the significant ADM markup on the car and made the decision that would change his life.

"We did the deal. I drove it home and was intoxicated with the vibe of the car. "The purchase of that vehicle had a profound impact on the direction my life went," he says.

Although it was nowhere near the build quality of the BMWs he was accustomed to, the raw realness of the Gen III Hemi captured his attention in a way no car ever had before. His natural curiosity got the best of him. He headed off to the internet to see if he could link up with some like-minded enthusiasts and discovered a couple of forums based around the LX chassis and the Charger. In those pre-Facebook days, message boards were the hot ticket to become educated on your car platform of choice.

"I started hooking up with a lot of local guys here in the Orlando area and doing things to the car. I lowered it right away. I did a wheel modification right away. I did a whole bunch of stuff and basically showed the car for the first three years I had it," he says.

Legmaker Charger engine bay

But the show life got old, and Harrigan, wanting more, put a Paxton Novi 1500 supercharger on the car and made his way to the dragstrip, where he clocked several 11.60s. Then came a smaller pulley and a fuel system. All the while, he was still driving it every day.

"It got to a point after a while where, now I've got a ProCharger on it, screaming through a blow-off valve that's louder than hell. It sounds like a jet engine pulling into the school when I'm dropping my kid off. I had a little 6-point RPM roll bar bolt-in cage in it. And I thought I was the (stuff) at the time," he says.

He continued to make changes, putting an engine in it in 2010 to go quicker, and so on. In 2015, the car ended up with Mario Abascal at Gearhead Fabrications, a Dodge/Hemi specialist shop in Jensen Beach, Florida.

Let's back up a moment. At the beginning of the article, we mentioned Legmaker Intakes, which caters to the Gen III market. When he first purchased the car, he worked in a completely unrelated business designing and manufacturing prosthetic limbs for those who needed his talents. That story is intriguing, so we'll let him explain.

Legmaker Charger Chris Harrigan

"I went to school to be a lawyer, believe it or not. And when I graduated college in 1990 at Cal State Sacramento in California, I thought I would be the next F. Lee Bailey or something. I got in a car accident, and I almost lost my foot as a result. Luckily, I was able to save it, but they had to fuse the ankle and do a whole bunch of stuff that made the ankle and the foot kind of worthless. I walk, but I can't run, can't jump, can't do anything I did when I was younger," he says.

While going through rehab for that injury, he met several amputees in his rehab group, and he had an interest in the sense of "that could have been me." He also met his future ex-wife around the same time, and as fate would have it, her brother was in the prosthetics field. Since he had missed his chance to go to law school due to the injury, he needed to find something to do with himself. He started working for the future brother-in-law, building carbon-fiber prosthetics and helping people from young to old get back into enjoying their lives.

Now we all know that carbon fiber is the best invention ever for race car guys. While at the track, a fellow racer who knew of his profession asked him to make an intake tube for a particular application out of carbon, and a side gig that spiraled into his main gig — Legmaker Industries, LLC — was born.

"I did it, and then all of a sudden, I started helping somebody else out, and then somebody else wanted one. You know how it goes from there. I started in the garage to pay for my racing habit and all the crap I was doing with the Charger. That was my side money. And then next thing I knew, I was so busy in the garage I couldn't keep up and do a full-time job. I was working for the largest prosthetic company in the world as a mid-level manager. I couldn't do it anymore. I couldn't do both, so I decided to go off my own at, I don't know, 40 years old. It was a huge risk. But I look back, and I'm glad I did because I wouldn't be able to do the things I do now," he says.

Legmaker Charger license plate

“Legmaker”, you see, was his forum name, so when it came time to make his passion into a business, the choice was simple. And it left him with an out if the car gig didn't take off as he'd be able to get back into the prosthetics industry without too much difficulty. As we can see, that didn't happen.

Back to the Hemi and the Charger. As he started to upgrade each facet of the car, he spiraled down that rabbit hole so many of us have fallen into, enlisting Gearhead to install a real cage for safety while he searched for ever more performance.

Today, the car is built around the very same chassis he drove off the showroom floor all those years ago, with AAD factory-style front suspension and a tubular K-member. In the rear, it still uses the stock independent rear suspension with AAD adjustable control arms, and Menscer Motorsports coilovers spec'd by John Reed at Reed Motorsports control suspension movement.

Erik Storms at BFNY Performance teamed up with Billy Briggs Racing Engines to develop the 370 cubic-inch Gen III Hemi, based around Manley H-beam connecting rods and pistons along with a factory 6.1 crankshaft. Storms set the dimensions on a custom camshaft for the engine and then dropped a set of Thitek Bear cylinder heads on top. The Plazmaman intake and throttle body sucks down boost from a ProCharger F-1A-94 supercharger. Transmission duties are handled by a combination of an ATI Racing Turbo 400 and an FTI torque converter. Weld Racing S71 wheels are at the corners, riding on Mickey Thompson Radial Pro rear tires and M&H Front Runners.

After Gearhead finished the car in that configuration, he raced it for a couple of years but was very discouraged with its consistency, as he had finally outclassed the factory engine management system.

Legmaker Charger dash

"You're always fighting electrical gremlins. And it was like, you turn the power off on the car, you turn it back on, you didn't know what you were going to get. And it got frustrating to a point where I was asking way more than what a 2005-'06 timeframe ECM was capable of doing for me," he says.

He credits the installation of the Holley Dominator EFI system earlier this year by Mario, Matt Kesatie, and the Gearhead team for taking the car to the next level.

"When I look back, it's like I was trying to run the car using a Game Boy computer versus using a military supercomputer, with the Holley. Going to the Holley has been, without a doubt, the best money I've ever invested that car, ever, in all the years I've owned it. And I probably put $200,000 in that car at least. It has given me and my tuner, Gary Rhudy, the ability to see data points so minute that we would never be able to see before," he says.

Legmaker Charger rear quarter

Along with the Holley installation, he had Gearhead make some suspension changes and other upgrades to turn the car into a machine perfect for 8.50 Index classes. That's where we found him at the Yellow Bullet Nationals earlier this year, dialing the car in with Rhudy for the index for the very first time.

In October, Harrigan captured the 8.50 Index win at the Modern Street HEMI Shootout event at Houston Raceway Park. They've since turned in a personal-best 8.36 with the car at the Modern Street HEMI Shootout at Maryland International Raceway, where they also went to the final round before a parts failure derailed their efforts. With the new setup, they finished second in the MSHS's Demon Performance Super Pro class, validating the decision to make these changes entering 2021.

"The challenge for me is getting to know the car and the feel of the car. And then Gary, obviously trying to nail that, to me as a driver to really get to know the car and become one. It sounds corny, but you're trying to zero in on what the car is doing. And I like it because it's fast, but it's not, 'I got to pull the car apart between rounds.' Going 160 miles an hour or so door to door with somebody, that's pretty cool. I fought the car for years, and Holley solved all those issues. Now I have a car I enjoy taking to the track again!" he says.


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