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Posted: October 14, 2007 8:07 p.m.

Zero to 60 in less than a second

Social Circle man takes show car to Las Vegas contest

Darren Tedder lives the type of life normally reserved for the pages of an adventure novel. An underwater cinematographer by trade, the Social Circle resident spends his free time cave diving and working on his two classic racecars.

Later this month, Tedder, 42, will compete against seven other racers for a $25,000 grand prize at the DynoMax Power to the Wheels Dyno Tour at the 2007 SEMA Show in Las Vegas.

"I used to race motorcycles back when I was younger and thinner and my bones were more pliable," Tedder said. "I drag raced cars when I was younger too. I've always had some type of hotrod or internal combustible engine around me my entire life. I'm still fascinated with them. Just trying to squeeze more and more out of them has always intrigued me."

Tedder will compete in his custom 1,100 horsepower 1971 Plymouth Hemi 'Cuda. He is also currently remodeling a 1970 Dodge Hemi Challenger, a car which was made famous in the hotrod classic "Vanishing Point.

"It's a competition of all out rear wheel horsepower," Tedder said. "Most horsepower you hear about is measured on an engine dyno where the engine is out of the car and coupled to dynamometer and they'll read power from an engine. This is different in that it uses something called a chassis dyno. They actually strap the car to a set of rollers and read the power coming off the back wheels."

This way of testing the car's horsepower was more difficult because there are so many other parts of the car involved, Tedder said. Testing the car on chassis dyno actually reduces the horse power 20 to 30 percent.

Tedder previously competed with the car at the 2006 Hotrod Magazine Hotrod Pump Gas Drags where he placed third. The 50 cars competing in the race had to be road ready and run on pump gas. The race was invitation only.

"You had to drive the car 30 miles in rush hour traffic in Memphis, Tenn. at 5 o'clock in the afternoon in the summer," Tedder said. "It took an hour and half to drive to the Memphis Motor Speedway. Not only did you have to run it on pump gasoline, you were only allowed 10 gallons to drive for an hour and half in a racecar without overheating or breaking down. And then you had to race on that gas as well."

Only 20 racers were able to reach the speedway without overheating or running out of gas. The drivers then ran rounds of elimination based on qualifying times. The race had no cash prize, but Tedder did receive a highly coveted jacket for his third place finish.

A Florida native, Tedder spent most of his childhood in the water, which lead to a natural fascination with SCUBA diving. After moving to Georgia, Tedder discovered cave diving.

"There were not many images from underwater caves at that time, mostly because the environment is so harsh and deep and the pressure makes it hard to get equipment that will survive," Tedder said. "So then we started building our own equipment."

 His first equipment included a camera housing and lighting systems for the extremely dark areas.

"So we shot some of that stuff and got it on a local news station, which lead to a spot on ESPN," Tedder said. "Then we started getting contacted by other companies and just kind of bubbled into it."

Tedder has turned his hobby into a career, working on dozens of underwater and commercial projects ranging from filming sunken ships to celebrities. He is currently waiting to hear back about shooting a pilot for a treasure hunting series.

Until then Tedder will continue to tune his car up for the next big event and enjoy time with his wife Charlotte and their rescue dogs.

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