Frank H. Cicerale
May 31, 2007
Photos By: Michael Galimi

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The pretense for our street-legal stick-shift shootout was simple. Find eight of the baddest, clutch-activated Mustangs, have the drivers row the gears to the best possible elapsed time, and then run the cars on a chassis dyno to gauge which one made the most rear-wheel horsepower. The problem is, a thing called carnage got in our way. To make a long story short, there were more bombs dropped on the starting line at our host track, Old Bridge Township Raceway Park in Englishtown, New Jersey, than the U.S. Army Air Corps dropped on Germany during all of World War II. Trust us, that's a lot of boom.

When it comes to putting together a street-legal, wicked-fast, stick-shift street car, there are a lot of things to take under advisement. Generally, an automatic street car leaves softer than a stick car, making traction an issue with a do-it-yourself gearbox. Getting the power to the ground yet keeping the car driveable on the street requires the perfect setting of the suspension components and proper tire selection. In addition, choosing the right clutch is also key to splitting hairs and finding the fine line between ultimate track potential and great street manners. Finding the right clutch that will allow you to drop the hammer hard on the starting line yet being able to live with it on the road makes it difficult to go fast with a stick. As you can see, there's much more than meets the eye in terms of going fast and rowing through the gears.

Things were good until we started running the cars. Go figure. By the end of the day, we had seven busted Stangs, with breakage coming in the form of snapped axles, fragged clutches, torched heads, fried transmissions, clunking rears, and one hurt motor. In the end, though, Tommy Godfrey's IRS-equipped Cobra (yes, we said IRS) made it all worthwhile when he laid down a stout 10.01-second pass. In addition, we were able to get three cars on the dyno. By the time the smoke cleared and the day was done, we had a nice mix of nitrous-snorting, supercharged, and turbocharged Mustangs that duked it out before broken parts and pieces took them out.

Justin Burcham from JPC Racing brought two cars to the shootout, the GT finishing in Third Place being one, and this ultracool Fox-body being the second. Unfortunately, Justin lifted a head gasket and torched a head on this car in the burnout box on the first run when a fuel injector went bad.

Special thanks go out to Paul Vaughn and DJ DiVigenze from Modern Muscle Motorsports for bringing the company's portable chassis dyno to Raceway Park for us. While we were able to get only three cars on the dyno, the guys stayed with us all day.

1st Place
Tommy Godfrey
Sunderland, MD
'03 Cobra

To be honest, we on the MM&FF staff were quite shocked when the lone remaining Stang in our stick-shift shootout happened to be an IRS car. Tommy Godfrey ripped up the Raceway Park asphalt in search of a 9-second elapsed time and came oh-so-close with a 10.01-second effort. He enlisted the help of Johnny Lightning Performance and JPC Racing to supersize his snake. The mod motor was bored out to 283 ci, and the factory Eaton blower was switched for a Kenne Bell 2.8 huffer. Tommy's Terminator was one of the three cars that made a dyno pull, and the rollers spit out a horsepower number of 726, with a rear-wheel-torque figure of 638.

Stick SpecsOwner: Tommy Godfrey
Hometown: Sunderland, MD
Driver: Tommy Godfrey
Car: '03 Cobra
Weight w/Driver: 3,754 lbs
Engine: 0.020-over block, stock crank, rods, JLP custom forged pistons
Built/Tuned By: JLP/JPC Racing
Power Adder: Kenne Bell 2.8 supercharger pushing 28 lbs of boost
Heads: Stock
Camshafts: Stock
Best ET/MPH: 10.015/139.79

Log Book
Run No.60-FtETMPH
11.57310.015139.14
21.57210.113139.79
31.56710.113138.88

2nd Place
Jonathan Joseph
Palmyra, NJ
'04 Cobra

Jonathan Joseph drove his '04 Cobra to the track, swapped his street tires for skinnies and drag radials, and dropped the clutch to a 10.66-second best to wind up in Second Place. His combo is a stock Cobra motor fitted with a Kenne Bell 2.2 blower and a Nitrous Express juice kit injecting a 100hp shot of the squeeze. When he decided to use the spray, Jonathan broke one of the axles on the launch. The reason he decided to run the nitrous was to stand the Cobra up on the bumper and give MM&FF a heck of a photo op. He blew off the tires on his first pass of the day and ripped off that 10.66 utilizing the boost from the blower only. In the end, though, it was Jonathan's car that was the epitome of what the shootout was all about-lighting up the boards with quick times while still being driveable to and from the track.

Stick SpecsOwner: Jonathan Joseph
Hometown: Palmyra, NJ
Driver: Jonathan Joseph
Car: '04 Cobra
Weight w/Driver: 3,450 lbs
Engine: Stock
Built/Tuned By: Lund Racing
Power Adder: Kenne Bell 2.2 supercharger pushing 17 lbs of boost with a Nitrous Express 100hp dry-nitrous system
Heads: Stock
Camshafts: Stock
Best ET/MPH: 10.662/130.27

Log Book
Run No.60-FtETMPH
11.44910.662130.27
21.46110.814126.79
31.61411.53893.{{{80}}}

3rd Place
Justin Burcham
Glen Burnie, MD
'01 GT

Justin Burcham brought two cars to the shootout, but unfortunately ran into trouble with both of them. While the GT, owned by John Dobson, finished up in the third spot, it was at the expense of two valvesprings. Even though Justin made only one good pass, the 10.76 that resulted from it showed that, with a healthy powerplant and a few more hits on the track, mid-10-second times were certainly a possibility.

Stick SpecsOwner: John Dobson
Hometown: Germantown, MD
Driver: Justin Burcham
Car: '01 GT
Weight w/Driver: 3,208 lbs
Engine: 302 stroker
Built/Tuned By: JLP/JPC Racing
Power Adder: ProCharger D1SC centrifugal supercharger pushing 18 lbs of boost
Heads: Ported stock
Camshafts: Custom
Best ET/MPH: 10.767/129.07

Log Book
Run No.60-FtETMPH
11.50010.767129.07
21.49016.36361.99

4th Place
Timothy Singleton
Virginia Beach, VA
'99 GT

Timothy Singleton showed up with the only naturally aspirated ride and promptly powershifted his way into Fourth Place. VT Engines assembled the stroker 302 mod motor. The extra displacement is complemented by a Nitrous Express single-stage wet kit that's good for an extra 150 ponies. Of all the cars that passed over the scales, Timothy's was the lightest, weighing a scant 3,134 pounds. His Stang was one of many that ended up sacrificing parts to the speed gods. He had just put the car on the chassis dyno after his fourth run and noticed that the paint on the rearend cover was cracked. Not wanting to take the chance of really breaking something, Timothy pulled the car onto the trailer, but not before stopping the clocks well into the 11-second zone.

Stick SpecsOwner: Timothy Singleton
Hometown: Virginia Beach, VA
Driver: Timothy Singleton
Car: '99 GT
Weight w/Driver: 3,134 lbs
Engine: 302 stroker, forged crank, CP pistons
Built/Tuned By: VT Engines
Power Adder: Nitrous Express 150hp single-stage wet kit
Heads: VT Engines Stage II
Camshafts: VT Engines Stage II
Best ET/MPH: 11.138/123.24

Log Book
Run No.60-FtETMPH
11.48411.138123.24
21.50111.274121.39
31.85712.029117.61

5th Place
Dean Adams
San Antonio, TX
'06 GT

Dean Adams had the only S197 car at the shootout, and arguably the toughest haul out of everyone who came. He drove in from San Antonio and had issues with his tow vehicle the entire way. After driving for 48 hours with no sleep, he unloaded his Mustang, fired it up, and made a couple of passes before wasting the transmission on the starting line on this third effort. With Dean just getting the car dialed in after he ran his best pass of the day, an 11.24, the 135-mph trap speed indicated the car has a lot more power to it. We could only wonder just how quick Dean's Stang would have gone had the trans not checked out.

Stick SpecsOwner: Dean Adams
Hometown: San Antonio, TX
Driver: Dean Adams
Car: '06 GT
Weight w/Driver: 3,712 lbs
Engine: Stock block, '03 Cobra crank, J&E pistons
Built/Tuned By: PSI Performance
Power Adder: Novi 220 centrifugal supercharger pushing 19 lbs of boost
Heads: Stock
Camshafts: Comp Cams
Best ET/MPH: 11.242/135.33

Log Book
Run No.60-FtETMPH
12.33315.35563.04
22.02411.242135.33

6th Place
Bill Tumas
Harrisburg, PA
'96 GT

Bill Tumas' Cobra lasted most of the day, and it even got the chance to shine on the dyno. Bill made six blasts down the dragstrip, clicking off a best elapsed time of 11.26 seconds. On the dyno, the snake recorded 457 rwhp and 265 rwtq, which was mighty nice. Unfortunately, Bill lost Second gear in the transmission, preventing him from trying to get into the 11.1-second zone. Overall, though, we dug the flames and the look of Bill's Stang.

Stick SpecsOwner: Bill Tumas
Hometown: Harrisburg, PA
Driver: Bill Tumas
Car: '96 Cobra
Weight w/Driver: 3,510 lbs
Engine: Stock
Built/Tuned By: SGS Automotive
Power Adder: Vortech T-Trim centrifugal supercharger pushing 13 lbs of boost
Heads: Stock
Camshafts: Stock
Best ET/MPH: 11.269/122.50

Log Book
Run No.60-FtETMPH
11.58411.269122.50
21.56511.302122.38
31.63511.332122.41

7th Place
Greg O'Brien
Lumberton, NJ
'79 LX

Greg O'Brien brought the only non-V-8- equipped car to the shootout. In fact, his fly-weight notchback featured only four cylinders under the hood, but a turbo coupled with a nitrous kit made sure this little engine moved down the track respectably. Unfortunately for us, and Greg in particular, the clutch just wasn't up to the task of handling all of the power the engine was producing. Every time the turbo started to produce boost, the clutch slipped and the revs climbed. While the elapsed times are not indicative of how well the car ran, the trap speeds indicate this is a 12-second ride at the very least, hence the dyno numbers of 527 rwhp and 463 rwtq. Not bad for a four-cylinder.

Stick Specs
Owner: Greg O'Brien
Hometown: Lumberton, NJ
Driver: Greg O'Brien
Car: '79 LX
Weight w/Driver: N/A
Engine: '84 SVO four-cylinder, stock crank, Wiseco forged pistons
Built/Tuned By: Housepower Racing
Power Adder: Precision SC 63 turbocharger pushing 30 lbs of boost with a 40hp single-stage dry-nitrous kit
Heads: Essliger
Camshafts: Schneider
Best ET/MPH: 13.088/105.22

Log Book
Run No.60-FtETMPH
11.80013.088102.56
23.40415.150105.22