Steve Baur
Former Editor, Modified Mustangs & Fords
September 27, 2005

It was the worst of days for a track test. Awash in the dreadful leftover soup that was Hurricane Dennis, we soldiered on in search of the fastest normally aspirated Four-Valve street Mustang.

At 10:30 a.m., our Altronics weather computer noted a tem-perature of 87.6 degrees and a density altitude of 3,074 feet. By noon, it had risen to 93 degrees and 3,388 feet-density altitude. It was a sticky day and thankfully so was the track, as you can tell from the lead photo.

Since Vero Beach's Al Papitto was the only competitor equipped with a 5.4-powered car, we had a feeling he would be the man to beat, and we were right. Al was over a second faster than the rest of the competition. A combination of cubic inches and having the lightest curb weight of the group did the trick.

The next six places were separated by a mere four-tenths and the last-place finisher probably would have been midpack in the main group had he come equipped with slicks and skinnies.

Though the air was hot, the competition was even hotter, with the guys really hammering the gears toward the end of the session looking for that extra tenth that would move them up in the rankings. Gunning for 11s in this type of weather was a challenge, too--one that a few of the guys met.

Check out the pictures and tech files to see what it takes to make it happen with a Four-Valve motor, and make sure you check out the extended photo coverage of the event.

Shootout Rules

  • 1. No power adders of any sort.
  • 2. 4.6-5.4-liter Four-Valve engines, strokers allowed.
  • 3. Overdrive automatic or manual transmissions only.
  • 4. No gutted race cars. Significant lightening OK, but up to our discretion. Rear seat removal OK. Racing seats OK, but two required.
  • 5. Cars/drivers must possess all required safety equipment per NHRA rules for elapsed times.
  • 6. Slicks, skinnies, drag radials OK.
  • 7. All cars must be muffled and not be louder than 94 decibels. No open headers or bullet-style mufflers allowed.

Al Papitto
1st place

Al Papitto competed in one of our shootouts a couple of years back, and since then he has swapped out his iron 5.4 block for a Ford GT aluminum piece. This knocked 110 pounds off the front of the car and led to it carrying the lightest curb weight of the group.

Built by Al at his Boss 330 Racing shop, the 5.5-liter engine cranks out 538 hp to the wheels. As you can see, it ran consistently, until later in the day when it was retired due to a rattle under the valve cover. The point was certainly made, though.

Al's all-time best e.t. of 10.03 was achieved by short shifting at 7,000 rpm. The Mustang has 9-second potential, but not a 9-second rollcage, yet.

Strip Specs
Owner: Al Papitto
Hometown: Vero Beach, Florida
Driver: Al Papitto
Year/Model: '97 Mustang Cobra
Weight w/Driver: 3,226 lbs
Engine: 332ci (5.5L) '05 Ford GT aluminum block, steel crank, Manley billet rods, Mod Max custom pistons, Aviaid four-stage dry sump oil system
Built By: Boss 330 Racing/Al Papitto Vero Beach, Florida
Intake Manifold: Custom, Boss 330 Racing
Cylinder Heads: '00 Cobra R Four-Valve, ported by Kris Starnes
Compression Ratio: Around 12:1
Camshafts: Crane custom--no, you can't have the specs
Ignition: MSD DIS 4
Exhaust: Custom 13/4 stainless steel headers, X-pipe, DynoMax mufflers
Transmission: Tremec TKO prepped by Liberty
Converter/Clutch: McLeod
Rear Type: 8.8, Moser axles with Detroit Locker spool and 4.56 gear
Wheels F/R: Weld Pro Star 15x4, 15x10
Tires F/R: M/T front runners, M/T ET Drag 15x28x10
Suspension Front: AJE tubular K-member, QA1 struts with UPR springs
Suspension Rear: UPR Pro Series control arms, QA1 shocks, stock Mustang GT springs
Best ET/MPH: 10.03/133.88


Car #


1/4 E.T.

1/4 MPH

7 1.43 10.34 127.70
7 1.41 10.36 127.81
7 1.39 10.26 128.95