Born and raised in Fresno, California, Kenneth “Flex” Wheeler is a unique figure in the world of Mopar® enthusiasts. After growing up in a lower class economic situation, but having found martial arts and bodybuilding in his teens, Flex began to focus on professional bodybuilding in his late teens and early 20s. Among his accomplishments in bodybuilding are winning second place at the 1993, 1998 and 1999 Mr. Olympia competition. He is also a 5-time Ironman Pro winner and a 4-time Arnold Classic winner. His other competitive accomplishments include the France Grand Prix, South Beach Pro Invitational, Night of Champions and Hungarian Grand Prix.
In 1994, he was involved in a near-fatal car accident that could have left him with lifelong paralysis. However, he started training from scratch, and he returned with remarkable speed to bodybuilding’s top tier. In 1999, Wheeler discovered that he had focal segmental glomerulosclerosis, a form of kidney disease. Wheeler announced his retirement from competitive bodybuilding in 2000, but continued to compete until 2003. He even recently re-emerged to finish 15th at the 2017 Mr. Olympia!
Following the car accident, Flex had time to begin learning more about high-performance cars. This turned into another passion for him. As he learned about cars, he became more and more attracted to Dodge, Mopar and HEMI® engines. In 2007, Flex purchased a 2007 Dodge Charger with a 3.0L V6. Almost immediately, he talked with a few friends about putting a new engine in the Charger. Flex landed on a 7.4L 426 Mopar HEMI engine. Once this upgrade was finished, the fun really started!
Flex developed a friendship with noted aftermarket tuner John Urist. John’s first drag car was a 1969 Charger R/T in the early 1980s! After moving away from racing for a decade, he returned to drag racing in the late ’90s as a hobby. He started racing in the late ’90s with the NMCA and has continued to this day. As he developed his passion for racing, he also began to develop drag racing kits. This turned into Hellion Power Systems, which is named after a Judas Priest song that showed up on John’s iPod! In addition to drag car builds, John also developed supercharger and turbocharger kits in conjunction with Bassini.
Flex and John decided to develop a game plan with the Charger to make as much horsepower and torque as they could, while allowing it to continue to be one of Flex’s daily drivers. The duo worked with Turbonetics and Hellion equipment to turn this Charger into an 800-plus horsepower and 800-plus lb.-ft. of torque monster. And they were able to do this while allowing Flex to drive to New Mexico, Texas and Las Vegas for SEMA, all without issue.
Now that Flex has had this car for over a decade, he and John are working on a new Dodge/Mopar project. Stay tuned to DodgeGarage.com to learn more about this next vision from them.