Last year Ford Racing Performance Parts invited a select few print and online writers/editors to experience the latest and greatest in FRPP performance parts in a very unique way--by taking various Ford vehicles modified with said parts down the quarter mile in a bracket style shootout. It was a fun way to interact with the FRPP guys and learn first hand how these parts work, feel, and sound. Let's face it, what better way to know how a muffler sounds or a shifter feels than to try it yourself with a spirited test drive. It was such a success last year (and the fact that none of us automotive Neanderthals broke anything) the FRPP guys in their famous red Polo shirts invited us all back for another round.
This year's invitational featured all manual trans vehicles (last year the invitational was won by John Gallagher, one of our publishers, in a supercharged F-150). They were all S197 Mustangs of various power and lineage--some started life as GT500s, others as base GTs--with the exception of the two entries provided by Factory Five Racing. FFR showed up with a Type 65 Coupe (Daytona replica) and a '65 Roadster (Cobra replica), both powered by Ford Racing crate engines and wearing other Ford Racing parts. I had a lot of fun in the Roadster last year, especially since I had just gotten under way with building our own, but this year I scored the black S197 you see here. This black car was in the field of entries last year and I remembered how awesome it sounded. It's a naturally aspirated 4.6 3-valve wearing FRPP's "Hotrod Cams" with custom calibration, FR2 Drag Pack (cold air induction, mufflers, shorty headers, shifter, and gears) and their Handling Pack (springs, shocks, sway bars, and strut brace). All told the mods was good for around 375 horses and made for one great sounding ride that was easy to drive.
The Mustangs were packing stock production radials, which made for some challenging starting line techniques. Once we squeaked out one round of testing we jumped right into qualifying, which we only had two rounds of due to time constraints. Last year I took the top qualifying spot, but didn't have such luck this year (that went to Shaun Bailey at Road & Track). Instead of a bye run I had to line up against Sam Abuesamid from Autoblog.com in a GT500. Sam may be a great blogger, but he's never bracket raced before, easily putting me into round two against Shaun when he broke out of his 12.80 dial in with an 11.94. Next round I saw the red light come on in Shaun's lane, putting him and his Shelby GT "on the trailer" and moving me into the third round of elims where I went up against Ben Wojdyla from Jalopnik.com, another blogger unfamiliar with bracket racing. My consistency with my dial-in, running a 13.82 on my 13.80 dial-in, once again moved me to the next and final round, where I was to meet up with David Freiburger, the former editor of Hot Rod who now runs carjunkietv.com. Dave was driving the FFR Roadster, so I had the horsepower advantage, but David had way more track time under his belt. Fortunately (for me anyways) David took a power nap at the tree giving me the edge by three tenths, which I took all the way to the winner's circle. So the 2008 trophy once again comes home to roost with a Source Interlink employee.