5.0 Mustang & Super FordsCar Reviews
Ford Mustang Boss 302 vs. 302S - Street vs. Race
The Boss 302 Gives its race car brother A run at the track—and drives home with the air on
He is the Champion
Paul Brown is no stranger to road racing. Son of Mustang-chassis expert Kenny Brown—the guy who put the winning Escort Series Fox Mustangs with Steve Saleen in the '80s and purveyor of aftermarket suspension systems today—Paul, like drag racing's Billy Glidden, is a racing son who made his own way in the sport.
Running his own program, Paul has bootstrapped his way through an incredible array of road racing cars, and is likely best remembered by the current generation of Mustang enthusiasts as a major threat in NASA American Iron Extreme. But that effort was really a denouement to his long '93-'00 World Challenge series run, and like that campaign of opportunity, Paul's 2011 World Championship season wasn't one he originally planned on. But Paul was working with Ford Racing to supply the hoods, wings, and splitters for the Boss 302S racers and found himself positioned to get an early start on the season.
Not that the start came easily. Ford was behind in producing customer 302Ss, so Paul had to put his own car together, and as usual, money was near non-existent. Old friends Tracey and Jodi Wellendorf stepped forward, rolling a spanking-new Mustang GT into Paul's shop a month before the 2010 SEMA show. Paul and crewmembers Adam Cox and Chris Fillias dismembered the new Mustang, welded in the cage, and incredibly, debuted the new racer at the big Las Vegas show.
Sponsorship was tough, with Paul putting together many small or one-time programs throughout the season. He credits all of them, but notes Lucas Oil was critical in getting the team to two far-away East Coast season-opening races, and One Hour Heating & Air Conditioning seems to have picked up much of the slack at season's end. By the time the rubber dust had settled, Paul and wife Carol's Tiger Racing team had won five races, set seven fastest laps, and led more GTS laps than all their competitors combined.
Anyone watching the telecast of the title-clinching win at Laguna Seca could see what an emotional triumph the title was for Paul. After decades of crushing effort the field was finally his, and for us at the magazine who have watched the entire run, we can say the title couldn't have been won by a harder working, more optimistic, and upbeat Joe. Way to go Paul!
Expect to see Tiger Racing in the winner's circle again next year as Paul returns to defend his Pirelli World Challenge GTS championship.
Horse Sense: Ford's goal for the Boss 302 was to beat BMW M3s, but that job was already closely approached by the standard Mustang GT when it received the fabulous Coyote 5.0 engine. As a result, Boss 302 performance is more akin to the '11-'12 Shelby GT500, a car we believe might best the upcoming Chevy Camaro ZL1. In every way, the Boss 302 is the balanced, 400-plus-horsepower, naturally aspirated handling Mustang we've been waiting for Ford to build ever since your author bought his '66 fastback in 1979.