Michael Galimi
September 16, 2016

The tally has been over 1,000-miles, exactly how much over is unknown as we just gave up keeping accurate count. We’ve completed four days of driving and racing and the tally sits at three states, over 30-hours sitting in a Kirkey while navigating a Hot Rod Magazine-prescribed road course, and leading a pack of hot rodding maniacs. My adventure to tackle Hot Rod Drag Week, presented by Gear Vendors, with Mike Jovanis and his 1,400hp True Street Mustang is quickly coming to an end. To say it has been epic would be an understatement and truly an experience that I will cherish forever.

We spent Day Four in Indy, hanging around the hallowed grounds of Lucas Oil Raceway and we seem to have gotten our mojo back with the plan of One and Done. That means we make one pass on the track and if the car runs well, we convert back to street trim and hit the road. Day Three wasn’t as smooth running as the first days but Day Four seemed to put us back on our strategy.

This isn’t a car show by any means and the car will get filthy as you log on the miles, traveling through back roads to each track. Jovanis had to clean the dead bugs off the window before embarking on a 173 mph pass down Indy’s famous dragstrip.

Long story short, we were clueless on what was wrong with our Mustang on Day Three; after three runs on the dragstrip we ended up with a weird stumble. We’ve narrowed it down to either a user-generated tune mistake or a bad 02-sensor. I don’t know which cured the problem but whatever the fix, it seemed to work as the car ran its best run of the week with an 8.101 at 172.74 mph. Back on the road, we cruised into Indy with our pals Alex Corella and Willie Lujan riding behind us with their mid-8 second turbo Mustang out of Lujan Motorsports.

The chilly Indy morning and quality track conditions had us anxious to get on track, especially since our confidence was high after the 8.101 the day before. The track and weather conditions had Lujan begging us to get more aggressive with the boost controller. Jovanis complied and adjusted the curve in the Haltech Elite 2500, adding more C02 pressure to the wastegates to get more boost down low and in high gear. Out back is a pair of 315/60-15 Mickey Thompson ET Street Radials, so traction shouldn’t be an issue.

A clean burnout and we were hoping to run quicker than the 8.10 from yesterday. The car came up on the transbrake and left the starting line; it stuck the tires and screamed down track to an 8.123 at 173.07 mph. Despite being a quality run, all of us expected it to be quicker given the more aggressive boost curve. If there is one thing that Jovanis totally digs in this car, it is analyzing data. He works in the software industry so it should be of no surprise to anyone that knows him. The Haltech data showed the turbo wasn’t at max launch boost when Jovanis let off the transbrake.

We are back to One and Done as right off the street—only changing fuel, tire pressure, tune, and parachute mount. Jovanis unleashed an 8.123 at 173.07 mph run. We resisted temptation to make a second run to go quicker. (Photo by Dom Damato)
Jeremy Stelford smokes the hides in the Geriatric Hauler as he and his dad brought a 1980s-themed ride to the party.

Temptation and greed to go quicker is very tempting—the top two racers seem to be out of our league so we just need to stick to our goal to finish the week. I won’t say we didn’t talk about making a second run in an attempt to go quicker. The hard decisions are usually the right calls; we went into street mode before we changed our minds. The chute was first to come off and the trailer hitch was installed in the same mounting location. Then the VP Racing Fuels C16 is drained and replaced with pump gas that we have in a red fuel jug so we don’t mix it up.

We got on the road mid-afternoon after collecting our travel buddies, Lujan and Corella in their Mustang and our new friends, Jeremy and Rodney Stelford in their 1980s-themed Caprice Classic and homemade trailer that is painted to look like a camping trailer. We had 760-or-so miles behind us and 244-miles ahead of us for the final leg of the road tour. I won’t lie, there is that part of you that gets disappointed that the end of the week is near, but there is another part that wants to gets back to the normal life. As the cliché goes, all good things must come to an end and a major part of Drag Week was wrapping for us. And more importantly, we were on our way to finishing the street drive without any issues.

The Mustang was absolutely flawless on the street and never once hiccupped or did something out of the ordinary. It is a testament to one heck of a Mustang that Jovanis dreamed up and built for himself. There are faster cars that have run this event but that doesn’t take away how significant and extraordinary this little Mustang has become since its humble beginnings when Jovanis bought it at 17 years old. Lujan and Corella did have two issues on Day Four; the first was a leaking radiator cap that seemed to be fine after relieving some pressure. The other was a nail in the tire late in the day and it needed a roadside fix. Some random Drag Week competitor stopped and had a plug kit, so Lujan made quick repairs.

Alex Corella sits under the famous bridge at Lucas Oil Raceway at Indianapolis; he moved up to third place in Street Race Small-Block Power Adder through four days with an 8.6160 average.

We pulled into the hotel parking lot to a giant tailgate party as we joined about a twenty other Drag Weekers, who successfully finished the road tour. Beers were popped open and reflection and stories from the week were flowing as a sense of accomplishment and pride emanated from Jovanis and myself. We are sitting third in Super Street Small-Block Power Adder behind two awesome machines. Jovanis has an 8.1858 average so far while Clark Rosenstengel is first with a 7.9943 and our buddy Jay Meagher from Real Street Performance is second with an 8.0630.

Epic doesn’t even describe the experience I’ve had on Drag Week. We’ve worked hard, pushed our limits, and stay focused on our goal of finishing—respectably—no matter the exhaustion. One day remains in this crazy adventure as we look to close out strong and lock up our third place standing.

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