Josh Dietz: Creating Frankenstein, a New Car Out of Old

Josh Dietz: Creating Frankenstein, a New Car Out of Old

Josh Dietz and crew created their own crate late model out an old 2004 black front-end Rocket. Last weekend, they won with a car they call “Frankenstein” at Florence Speedway in Union, Kentucky.

The project has been two years in the making. It started with a car Dietz found for his crew member Cliff Byrd’s son. They bought the 2004 Rocket to scavenge parts.

“Me and my crew chief, Dylan Rivers, started cutting that old car all apart — front clip, rear clip, frame rails — all cut off, but we kept the roll cage,” Dietz, of Florence, Kentucky, said. “The old Rockets had great cages. We decided to start from there and build a car around it.”

(For more on the Josh Dietz and Dylan Rivers, read “Josh Dietz & Dylan Rivers: Engineers Gone Racing.”)

Dietz and Rivers put their minds together to figure out a design during winter months of 2022–2023.

“We took different aspects of different chassis we liked and blended them together for our own geometry,” said Dietz. “We wanted a rear clip like an XR-1 [from Rocket] and a front clip like a Swartz or Kryptonite chassis. We strived for perfect ground clearance with a lot of Rocket bolt-on parts.”

The two built the car with crate racing in mind.

“The others are focusing on super late models, building a stiffer chassis because the 900-horsepower engines will easily twist a car,” Dietz said. “A 604 late model has 400 horsepower, so we theorized that a car with more flex would do better with that amount of horsepower.”

That amount of flex helped Dietz and Rivers dial in the car.

“When you add flex to a chassis, it opens up the sweet spot in setup,” said Dietz. “With a bigger sweet spot, the car handles better all the time. Even as the track gets slicker and slower as the night progresses, it still works well.”

When Dietz decided to run the full American All-Star Series circuit, they put the project on hold. They eventually debuted it at the tour’s season finale at Natural Bridge Speedway in Virginia. Cliff Byrd’s son, Nicholas, drove it. He failed to make the show.

“We went back home and worked on it all winter to fix a number of small issues,” Dietz said. “Things like shock-mount positions and adjustments to keep the right tire from rubbing on the frame rail.”

Nicholas Byrd competed with Frankenstein three times this year, at Florence Speedway and Lake Cumberland Speedway in Kentucky, as well as Brownstown Speedway in Indiana. He finished ninth in his last time in it.

When Nicholas Byrd decided to race his modified at Indiana’s Lawrenceburg Speedway last Saturday, Josh Dietz took Frankenstein to Florence Speedway. With it, Josh Dietz set quick time, won a heat race and then the feature.

“Frankenstein kept getting better each time we took it out — there wasn’t much to adjust,” said Dietz. “We kept the Byrds informed as the night went on. They were excited to have us race Frankenstein.”