When Daniel Lewis, a disabled veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom was planning on a direction to go with on his 2014 Dodge Challenger R/T “Blacktop Edition,” he really didn’t know where to start. The direction of the car was “unclear at first,” said Dan. He continued, “We planned to do all the usual such as brakes, wheels, tires, exhaust, and a cold air intake system. But we were clueless where to go from there.”
Dan really wanted to make his Challenger stand out from the crowd so he sat for days thinking of what he could do to make it pop. Then it hit him. Dan decided to take his experience in the US Army Infantry, as well as his love of military vehicles and aircraft, and incorporate that into the overall theme for his car. See, while serving in Iraq, Dan was the driver and gunner of a M2A2 Bradley infantry fighting vehicle. A M2A2 Bradley is a type of armored fighting vehicle used to carry infantry into battle and provide direct fire support.
Dan says while he loves the armored vehicles, his main passion is with airplanes and helicopters, like the P-51 Mustang and P-40 Warhawk. “Hence the inspiration and design for my car. Along with being a tribute to one of the greatest fighter planes to ever blaze the sky, fight in WWII and in Pearl Harbor, the car is as also a tribute to a friend and fallen brother in arms,” shares Dan.
Dan’s close friend and roommate in Iraq, Private First Class (PFC) Robert L. Frantz, died in combat on June 17th, 2003 in Baghdad, Iraq. While pointing to the door of his car, Dan said, “This is for him, his name is on the side of the passenger door as being my co-pilot, the tail number, like you see on fighter planes, is his birthday.” Dan even hangs his fallen comrade’s dog tags from the rear view mirror inside his Challenger. “So with Robert in the passenger seat, I feel he still ‘has my six’ and will be watching my back,” said Dan.
Early in 2015 Lewis was asked to represent Red Lion Motorsports (RLM) at the 2015 Optima Search for the Ultimate Street Car event being held in Fontana, California, with hopes Lewis would also earn an invitation to the Optima Ultimate Street Car Invitational (OUSCI) event held each year after the Specialty Equipment Market Association (SEMA) show in Las Vegas, Nevada. Being new to the Ultimate Street Car Association (USCA), Lewis managed a solid mid-pack finish in his class, which unfortunately, wasn’t strong enough to garner an invitation. But both Red Lion and K&N look forward to supporting Lewis in 2016.