Tom Wilson
March 2, 2012

Amazingly Close

Comparing notes, all were impressed by just how close the street car came to the race car. First, we should note we were a depressing 7-seconds-a-lap slower than Paul in his race car and about 4 seconds per lap in the street car. As all of us are familiar with Willow Springs, the difference is in recent experience—Paul is all tuned up having just come off a hard-fought year of racing to a championship win while we haven't driven in anger in, uh, a really long time, and we turned a total of just five laps in his car—not to mention raw skill, and in our case, just getting old. The difference in driver speed is important, however, as Paul was clearly driving the cars deeper into their capabilities.

Even more important, no matter who was driving, the gap between the street and race cars was a consistent 5 seconds per lap. For those familiar with Willow Springs, the street car turned a low-1:31 lap, and the race car was in the mid-1:26 range, both with Paul at the wheel. His analysis was both cars are capable of running one second per lap faster when fully sorted and the driver gets his act completely together.

In any case, these are plenty fast laps (especially for the street car). By comparison, in Road & Track testing a Mustang GT and Camaro SS hovered in the mid 1:37 range (an '11 V-6 Mustang posted a 1:39!), and the high-powered, but nose-heavy '10 Shelby GT500 Super Snake got hustled to a 1:40 by Hot Rod magazine a year ago. To get to the 1:32s in another street car you need a Corvette ZR1 or Steve Millen in a Lambo Gallardo. That's smokin' company for a Mustang stickered at $42,990!

Now, it's true the Pirelli race tires we ran on the Boss helped considerably. We have to admit that in our busy day of testing and photography we went brain dead on trying a couple of laps on the Boss's stock street tires, so we don't have a direct comparison for them. But pouring through Paul's and other published data, the difference is likely around 4 seconds per laps using a set of fresh "sticker" Pirelli race tires.

The tires we ran on the street car at Willow were a set Paul had previously raced a 50-minute World Challenge race on, plus qualifying, plus two practice sessions, and Paul says they were an easy 2 seconds per lap slower than stickers, or about "like a good DOT track tire." So add 2 seconds to our street car's lap and you get a 1:33 lap at Willow, which is still in exotic-car territory. Nothing in the Boss's price range even comes close.