Muscle Mustangs & Fast FordsEvents
2017 Drag Week: Day Five
Alex Corella completes Drag Week flawlessly in a mid-8 second turbo Mustang
Hot Rod Magazine’s world-renowned Drag Week completed its fifth and final day at Cordova International Raceway, the location that kicked off the annual festival of drag racing and street driving six days earlier. We’ve followed Street Race Small Block Power Adder competitor Alex Corella through each day of the competition. It is the second time Corella has brought his Lujan Motorsports-built 1993 Mustang LX coupe on Drag Week, who placed third last year in the category. This time around, Corella sat fifth heading into the final day of the 2017 competition with an 8.5558 average.
The Street Race class has morphed into an 8.50-index category due to the class rules not allowing funny car style roll cages, thus no SFI-certified cages are legal in competition. Hot Rod officials never intended for it to be that way, but evolution over the past three years has brought Street Race to the brink of the safety gear. It has created a fun and interesting category, combining the skill of remaining slower than 8.50 each day but running as close as possible to it, trying to stay out in front of the other competitors’ averages. The rules also call for a true stock suspension configuration, adding the element of limited traction as most racers rely on turbocharged or supercharged small-blocks. Corella was one of a handful of small-block Ford powered entries, a stark contrast to the competition who rely on LS-based powerplants.
For Corella, he spent a week street-cruising his Mustang for roughly 900 miles while running solidly in the 8.50s most of the time. There were only a handful of dragstrip performances that didn’t go quite as planned; a couple of times his coupe spun the tires, another run was too quick with an 8.45 at 163 mph result, and one day he dropped an 8.64 at just 158 mph when he lifted early.
To review, the coupe tips the scales at 3,380 pounds with the Miami-Dade firefighter strapped behind the wheel. A 308ci small-block Ford sports a set of Trick Flow Twisted Wedge cylinder heads and a custom solid-roller camshaft. Lujan Motorsports built a single turbo system using a Bullseye Power 83mm turbocharger and a small air-to-water intercooler mounted behind the front bumper. A Powerglide two-speed transmission transfers the power back to the Mickey Thompson ET Street R 275/60R15 drag radial tires.
A Pro EFI engine management system, which was setup by Errol at TPS, keeps the car running well on the street and strip. The ECU references a flex fuel sensor to determine the percentage of E85 and gasoline being fed to the engine. It then automatically adjusts the engine’s calibration for the proper air/fuel ratio and timing based on the fuel content. Corella doesn’t have to touch anything when alternating between fuels. Another neat feature is an internal boost controller, which Lujan, Corella, and Errol have refined over a few years to create a conservative boost curve, keeping the car consistent on most track surfaces. The only boost controller variable that was changed during Drag Week was starting-line launch rpm, Corella could go up or down in order to speed up or slow down his coupe when targeting the 8.50 index.
As mentioned earlier, he entered the final day of competition with an 8.5558 average and in fifth place. The odds were stacked against him for a top three finish, but Corella took his best shot at going another 8.50 to lower his average. His first run resulted in an 8.54 at 161 mph, a performance he felt comfortable in submitting to complete the five-day competition. He, officially, finished Drag Week with an 8.5536 average and ranked sixth out of 51 entries. Corella qualified for a special Street Race shootout—the Crazy 8s—that brought the top eight competitors together for a heads-up battle, without a breakout. A first round run of 8.47 at 164 mph was quick, but Tom Franks outran Corella with an 8.44 at 166 mph in his 1979 Ford Furtura for the round win.
“I can’t complain,” expressed Corella about his adventure. He continued with a laugh, “I didn’t even check or change a spark plug. I didn’t even check the oil or trans fluid, either! I just put in gas and adjusted the launch rpm.” The most work Corella did to the car was drain the pump gas out the night before and replace it with E85.
With Drag Week becoming a memory, Corella has his sights set on a new challenge—NMRA Limited Street. It is a brand-new category, designed for cars like his coupe. The Mustang is being dropped off at Lujan Motorsports to get the turbo swapped over to a new Bullseye Power 76mm unit, specific for the category. The intercooler is also being exchanged to an air-to-air unit, as mandated by the rules. Racing heads-up in a class is a going to be a new task for the Floridian, but he is going to tackle it like he did True Street and Drag Week, with a smile and have fun doing it.