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
10.03/133.88

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

STRIP LOG

Car #

60-FT

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

Jeff Schmell
2nd place
11.44 /119

Currently ranked Second in the NMRA Factory Stock class, Jeff Schmell of Jackson, Michigan, sold his '98 Cobra and picked up one of the first production Mach Is in November 2002.

Racking up a total of 6,500 miles so far, the Mach hits the 11s with ease and still maintains most of the amenities offered by Ford.

Strip Specs
Owner: Jeff Schmell
Hometown: Jackson, Michigan
Driver: Jeff Schmell
Year/Model: '03 Mach 1
Weight w/Driver: 3,364 lbs
Engine: 284 ci
Built By: Al Papitto
Intake Manifold: Stock
Cylinder Heads: Al Papitto
Compression Ratio: 10.1:1
Camshafts: Stock
Tuner: Paul's High Performance, Jackson, Michigan
Exhaust: JBA/Bassani/DynoMax
Transmission: G-Force T5
Converter/Clutch: McLeod
Rear Type: 8.8 with Moser axles and 4.56 gear
Wheels: Bogart
Tires: Bogart
Suspension Front: PHP springs, Tokico five-way struts
Suspension Rear PHP springs, upper and lower control arms, Maximum Motorsports rear swaybar
Best ET/MPH: 11.44 /119

STRIP TUNING LOG

Car #

60-FT

1/4 E.T.

1/4 MPH

4 1.59 11.76 110.98
4 1.59 11.79 111.03
4 1.58 11.83 110.33

Carlos Sobrino
3rd place
11.58/116

Banging gears in the NMRA factory stock ranks, Carlos Sobrino is currently ranked Fourth in the point's race. While behind the wheel of his own '86 ex-Florida Highway Patrol Factory Stock racer, Carlos often found himself in the opposite lane of one Bob Cosby, whose '99 Cobra had taken him to the championship.

During a rain delay, the two were discussing the sale of Bob's motor, and a deal was struck to buy the whole car. At our shootout, Carlos battled clutch problems, first snapping a cable and later having trouble finding the proper adjustment and subsequent gear selection. Still, his one and only clean pass was fast enough to take him to the Third-Place spot.

Strip Specs
Owner: Carlos Sobrino
Hometown: Fairview, New Jersey
Driver: Carlos Sobrino
Year/Model: '99 Ford Cobra
Weight w/Driver: 3,326 lbs
Engine: 284 ci
Built By: Al Papitto of Boss 330 Racing, Vero Beach, Florida
Intake Manifold: Stock
Cylinder Heads: Stock
Compression Ratio: 9.85:1
Camshafts: Stock
Tuner: SCT
Exhaust: JBA 15/8-in shorties, SLP Loud Mouth after-cat
Transmission: Hanlon Motorsports T5
Converter/Clutch: Fidanza flywheel, McLeod clutch
Rear Type: 8.8 with Moser axles and spool, 4.56 gear
Wheels F/R: Centerline Convo Pro 15x3.5, 15x9
Tires F/R: 165R75 radials / BFG drag radials 275/50/15
Suspension Front: Tokico struts, stock springs
Suspension Rear: QA1 rear shocks, stock springs
Best ET/MPH: 11.58/116

STRIP TUNING LOG

Car #

60-FT

1/4 E.T.

1/4 MPH

8 1.79 11.98 113.75
8 1.73 12.80 107.68
8 1.62 12.54 105.52

Mike Pope
4th place
11.90/115.4

At a mere 19 years of age, Mike Pope has one hell of a hot rod and, with a bit of help from his dad, has taken this relatively stock Mustang into the 11s naturally aspirated.

This may be Mike's first stick-shift-equipped ride, but he can powershift like nobody's business. Lessons from Dad have helped and so have the Ford Racing camshafts and substantial suspension mods.

Strip Specs
Owner: Michael Pope
Hometown: Memphis, Tennessee
Driver: Michael Pope
Year/Model: '03 Mach I
Weight w/Driver: 3,280 lbs
Engine: 281 ci
Built By: Ford Motor Company
Intake Manifold: Stock, with PHP spacer
Cylinder Heads: Stock
Compression Ratio: 10.1:1
Camshafts: FR500, 204/214 duration at 0.050, 0.472/0.472-inch lift
Tuner: Dynospeed Racing, Memphis
Exhaust: Bassani Mid-length 15/8-in headers, Bassani X-pipe, Flowmaster 21/2-in after-cat
Transmission: Tremec 3650 five-speed
Converter/Clutch: Stock
Rear Type: 8.8, 31-spline Moser axles, Eaton Posi, 4.56 gear
Wheels F/R: Weld 15x3.5, 15x10 Pro Star
Tires F/R: M/T front runners, M/T 26x10 ET drags
Suspension Front: Strange struts, QA1 springs, tubular K-member and A-arms
Suspension Rear: Steeda upper and lower control arms, Steeda springs
Best ET/MPH: 11.90/115.4

STRIP TUNING LOG

Car #

60-FT

1/4 E.T.

1/4 MPH

3 1.63 12.10 112.52
3 1.62 12.06 112.30
3 1.65 12.07 112.48

Dave Dur
5th place
11.95/113.63

Purchased in stock form, this '99 Cobra was to be a nice cruiser as its owner, Dave Dur, already had a Windsor-powered '87 LX to beat on at the track. When the Windsor went down for the count, the Cobra was called in for substitute duty, and Dave liked racing it so much more that he sold the hatchback. The snake has gone as fast as 10.89 on a shot of nitrous, but Dave likes racing normally aspirated to keep the motor together longer.

Strip Specs
Owner: David Dur
Hometown: Crum Lynne, Pennsylvania
Driver: David Dur
Year/Model: '99 Ford Mustang Cobra
Weight w/Driver: 3,276 lbs
Engine: 1999
Built By: Ford Motor Company
Intake Manifold: Stock, ported by Jimmy Dedden
Cylinder Heads: Stock
Compression Ratio: 9.8:1
Camshafts: Stock
Tuner: Dave at Kaufman Motorsports, Dillsburg, Pennsylvania
Exhaust: JBA 15/8-in shorty headers, Bassani X-pipe w/cats, Bassani mufflers
Transmission: T5 with G-force internals
Converter/Clutch: D+D Performance, SHP clutch
Rear Type: 8.8 with FRPP Traction-Lok, Superior 31-spline axles and 4.56 gear
Wheels F/R: Bogart D-10 15x3.5, Bogart D-10 Ultra Lights 15x9
Tires F/R: M/T front runner 25x45x15, M/T ET Drags 26x10x15
Suspension Front: PA Racing tubular K-member and A-arms, Strange struts, 150-lb coilovers
Suspension Rear: Stock convertible rear springs, Tokico shocks, Hotchkis control arms
Best ET/MPH: 11.95/113.63

STRIP TUNING LOG

Car #

60-FT

1/4 E.T.

1/4 MPH

5 1.63 12.11 108.08
5 1.66 12.35 106.31
5 1.61 12.32 106.57

Peter Attanasio
6th place
12.4/109.5

While the Terminator Cobras of 2003-2004 have received much admiration lately, Peter Attanasio opted to get a Mach I instead. "I testdrove both back in November 2003, and the Mach felt great," he says. "I really liked the retro theme."

In March 2005, the Four-Valve motor suffered an oil pump failure, so Peter had Mustang Magic rebuild the motor with FR500 cams, Cobra rods and crank, and a set of JE forged pistons for a bump in compression. This was his first time out with the new motor, and the results were promising despite the intolerable heat.

Strip Specs
Owner: Peter Attanasio
Hometown: Lindenhurst, New York
Driver: Steve Shaugnessy
Year/Model: '04 Mach I
Weight w/Driver: 3,432 lbs
Engine: 284 ci
Built By: Steve Shaugnessy of Mustang Magic, Deer Park, New York
Intake Manifold: Stock
Cylinder Heads: Stock
Compression Ratio: 11.1:1
Camshafts: FR500, 204/214 duration at 0.050, 0.472/0.472-in lift
Tuner: Joe Lausardo ofMustang Magic, Deer Park, New York
Exhaust: MAC 15/8-in long-tube headers, MAC 2.5-in ProChamber and after-cat system
Transmission: Stock Tremec 3650 five-speed
Converter/Clutch: SPEC Stage II
Rear Type: 8.8 with Auburn differential, 4.30 gear, Moser 31-spline axles
Wheels F/R: Weld Pro Star 15x3.5, 17x9 Weld Pro Star XP, 16x8 stock five star
Tires F/R: M/T front runners, M/T ET 17-inch drag radial, M/T ET Street 26x10
Suspension Front: Lakewood 90/10 front struts
Suspension Rear: 50/50 rear shocks, Steeda control arms
Best ET/MPH: 12.4/109.5

STRIP TUNING LOG

Car #

60-FT

1/4 E.T.

1/4 MPH

6 1.69 12.22 111.66
6 1.70 12.16 112.23
6 1.71 12.12 113.03

Bill Applegate
7th place
11.97/113.10

Having missed his opportunity to buy an affordable early Mach 1, Bill Applegate jumped at the chance to pick up this '03 model. He had sampled the Terminator Cobra, but found the Mach's lighter feel, solid axle, and unique styling more appealing.

The right modifications have made the Mach 11-second worthy, and Bill thanks his wife, Lisa; Mitch Wilson; Bob Cosby; Joe Lynch; and Jeff Schmell for their help and encouragement.

Strip Specs
Owner: William H. Applegate III
Hometown: Chambersburg, Pennsylvania
Driver: William H. Applegate III
Year/Model: '03 Ford Mach 1
Weight w/Driver: 3,240 lbs
Engine: 281 ci
Built By: Ford Motor Company
Intake Manifold: Stock
Cylinder Heads: Stock
Compression Ratio: 10.1:1
Camshafts: Stock Ford
Tuner: Kaufman Motorsports, Dillsburg, Pennsylvania
Exhaust: SLP 13/4-in ceramic long-tube headers, SLP off-road X-pipe, MagnaFlow after-cat
Transmission: Stock Tremec 3650 five-speed
Converter/Clutch: Stock
Rear Type: 8.8 with Superior 31-spline axles, Eaton Posi, 4.30 gear
Wheels F/R: 15x4, 15x8.5 Centerline Convo-Pro
Tires F/R: EuroMetric 165R-15, M/T ET Drag 26x10x15
Suspension Front: AJE tubular K-member and A-arms, Tokico drag struts, Maximum Motorsports coilover w/175-lb springs
Suspension Rear: UMI adjustable control arms, QA1 shocks, stock coil springs
Best ET/MPH: 11.97/113.10

STRIP TUNING LOG

Car #

60-FT

1/4 E.T.

1/4 MPH

2 1.63 12.15 111.48
2 1.62 12.14 111.71
2 1.58 12.13 111.31

Jim Vaccaro
8th place
11.90/114.91

Jim Vaccaro brought the second biggest engine of the group at 324 ci. The stroker motor has taken this full-weight (and heaviest of the group by 100 pounds) street car into the 11s on several occasions when equipped with slicks. The 18-inch wheels that were on the car at our track day were no doubt heavier and didn't quite get the 60-foot time down to where it usually is.Happy with the low 12s that the Mach ran in the heat, Jim is adamant about not allowing this Mustang to become unstreetable, which has happened to some of his previous cars, and opting to run the drag pack wheel setup in a competition is one slippery slope he'd rather avoid. Jim's car was also the only one equipped with an automatic transmission.We feel there were definitely 2-3 more tenths in the Dark Shadow Gray colt with the stickier and lighter wheel/tire combination though, and the trap speed showed it.

Strip Specs
Owner: Jim Vaccaro
Hometown: Howard Beach, New York
Driver: Jim Vaccaro
Year/Model: '04 Mustang Mach I
Weight w/Driver: 3,526 lbs
Engine: 324 ci
Built By: VT Engines
Intake Manifold: Stock, ported
Cylinder Heads: Stock, ported
Compression Ratio: 10.5:1
Camshafts: VT Engines Stage II, 222/222 duration at 0.050, 0.575/0.575 lift
Tuner: Joe Lausardo, Mustang Magic of Deer Park, New York
Exhaust: JBA 15/8-in shorty headers, JBA H-pipe with converters, MAC 2.5-in after-cat
Transmission: Stock
Converter/Clutch: Pro Torque 3,200-stall
Rear Type: Stock with 4.10 gear
Wheels F/R: 18x8.5 and 18x10 BBS
Tires F/R: BFG 265/35/18 front, BFG drag radial 295/35/18 rear
Suspension Front: Tokico struts, Steeda springs
Suspension Rear: Tokico shocks, Steeda springs
Best ET/MPH: 11.90/114.91

STRIP TUNING LOG

Car #

60-FT

1/4 E.T.

1/4 MPH

1 1.84 12.40 110.48
1 1.80 12.39 110.34
1 1.83 12.44 109.80

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