Frank H. Cicerale
June 26, 2007

Since its beginnings, dragstrip shootouts have been a big hit with the MM&FF crowd. We love doing them, as it gets us to the track and it gets our readers' vehicles in the magazine in a very cool way. These days, we use the Internet to put out the call for cars when a shootout idea arises, and never have we received as much e-mail as we did when we drummed up the idea for the Mach 1 vs. '99-'02 Cobra confrontation. In fact, we may have even gotten the idea after our computers were flooded with 50 or so e-mails from readers with cars who wanted to see this go down.

After some discussion, we devised a plan and sent out the word. While it may not have been a heavyweight fight, we did have a pretty decent card. In one corner was the '03-'04 Mach 1. From the factory it had a naturally aspirated, 4.6L, Four-Valve engine rated at 305 hp. The Mach 1's signature came in the form of the ultracool Shaker hoodscoop and its unique body and stripe package. In stock trim, we've run as quick as 13.13 at 105 rpm.

In the other corner was the '99-'02 Cobra. While the Cobra also came with a naturally aspirated Four-Valve, that's where the similarity ends. The Mach 1 is better equipped for the strip due to its solid rear, while the Cobra came with the often-looked-down-upon IRS rear suspension. The Cobra also has a cool body package, and in our testing we've lit up the clocks with 13.30 e.t.'s. Compared to the Mach 1's 305 hp, the Cobra was rated at 320. All in all, though, we had the makings of a great fight.

The thing is, most people get confused and think the engine in the Mach 1 is the same as that in the Cobra. That's not the case. Basically, the engine between the strut towers of the Mach 1 is the same one found in the Mercury Marauder. For starters, the Mach 1 has a higher compression ratio than the Cobra-10.0:1 versus the Cobra's 9.85:1. In addition, the Mach 1 has the same high-flowing heads found on supercharged Terminator Cobras. The rear-gear ratios are different (3.55 for the Mach 1, 3.27 for the Cobra), and, more importantly, the camshaft profiles are different. The Cobra showcases intake cams with 0.392-inch lift and a duration at 0.050-inch lift of 196. The Cobra's exhaust cams spec out at 0.390-inch lift and 194 duration. Compare that to the Mach 1's camshafts. The Mach 1's intake cams are basically the same ones found in the 5.4L Navigator engine, featuring specs of .394-inch lift and a 184 duration. The exhaust is more in line with the Cobra, with the specs coming in at 0.397-inch lift and a 196 duration figure. With shorter duration, though, the intake cam makes great midrange torque, although the high-rpm horsepower pales in comparison to that of the Cobra.

The rules for our Mach 1 vs. Cobra shootout were fairly simple. A stock-style suspension was required, though we allowed the Cobras to ditch the IRS for a solid-axle. All cars had to have a full interior, a Four-Valve engine, and 28x10.5 non-W or 325-sized tires. The kicker was that any engine modification was allowed, as well as any and all multiple power adders.

But our doorbell barely rang. The call heeded a surprisingly low number of entries, so we made the best of what we had and brought six cars to Old Bridge Township Raceway Park in Englishtown, New Jersey, to see who would come out on top. This made us wonder if there were just a bunch of posers out there-fast with a keyboard but not on the track.

Right out of the gate, the Cobra contingent was in trouble as only two came to duke it out alongside four Mach 1s. While the power adder of choice was a supercharger, there was a mix between centrifugal and positive-displacement huffers as well as naturally aspirated Stangs. Everyone was given an equal chance, but each army was clearly not as strong as it could have been.

While the results weren't lightning quick, the competition was so close you couldn't fit a nose hair between First and Second Place.

1st Place
Matthew Wadel
Manassas Park, VA
'03 Mach 1

Matthew Wadel drove up from Virginia with his '03 Mach 1 and ripped off some blistering low-11-second times to claim the overall win for Team Mach 1. In a sense, he was straddling the fence as his Mach 1 had its engine bay stuffed with an '04 Cobra motor. The stock powerplant has its power output helped via a 2.3L Whipple supercharger stuffing 20 pounds of boosted atmosphere into the Four-Valve engine. Excessive Motorsports handled the tune, and according to Matthew, the engine was readied with little time to spare for the shootout, resulting in him running the everyday street tune. After opening the day with a couple of mid- to high-11-second runs, Matthew pounded out a pair of 11.30s with trap speeds well into the 120-mph zone. While his first pass was an 11.86, it was on that run that he recorded top speed of the day at 127.53. Adding looks to the purpose of the Mach 1 was the carbon-fiber hood with corresponding Shaker scoop cutout.

Weigh In
Owner:Matthew Wadel
Hometown:Manassas Park, VA
Driver:Matthew Wadel
Car:'03 Mach 1
Weight w/Driver:3,638 lbs
Engine:Stock '04 Cobra Four-Valve
Built/Tuned By:Excessive Motorsports
Power Adder:2.3L Whipple supercharger pushing 20 lbs of boost
Heads:Stock
Camshafts:Stock
Best ET/MPH:11.304/127.53
Log Book
Run No.60-FtETMPH
11.73911.304126.84
21.71211.309122.82
31.82811.532127.23

2nd Place
Roy Cole
Avoca, MI
'03 Mach 1

We have to give Roy Cole a lot of credit for ending up where he did at the end of the day. For starters, he was the only participant in the shootout who did not use forced induction as a power adder. Instead, he relied on a couple of guns to get the job done. Even though he had difficulty with the second stage of the nitrous fading on and off at the top end, he was able to utilize the laughing gas enough to score a Second-Place finish. Roy beefed up the Mach 1's short-block with some forged components before working over the top end, adding a quadruple set of rumbling camshafts and plumbing in the nitrous system.

Another advantage afforded to Roy was his Mach 1 being the lightest car running in the shootout. He took it easy on the first run of the day, keeping the juice system in the "off" position. He then let it all hang out on the second run, with his 11.32-second best being a scant 0.02 of a second behind the top 11.30-second run of Matthew Wadel. Roy hooked and booked to a 1.59-second 60-foot time, the best out of everyone in the joint. We were left to wonder how quick Roy could have gone if he got the second stage to work. He says mid-10s, so maybe we'll have him back for another shootout down the road.

Weigh In
Owner:Roy Cole
Hometown:Avoca, MI
Driver:Roy Cole
Car:'03 Mach 1
Weight w/Driver:3,464 lbs
Engine:'03 4.6L bored 0.030 over; Cobra crank, Wiseco pistons, Manley rods
Built/Tuned By:Lukovich Race Engines/Alternative Automotive
Power Adder:225 hp two-stage wet- nitrous system
Heads:Livernois Motorsports CNC-ported heads with 1mm oversize valves
Camshafts:Livernois Motorsports billet single-patterns featuring 214 duration, 0.432 lift, and a 114 LSA
Best ET/MPH:11.327/119.44
Log Book
Run No.60-FtETMPH
11.59211.327119.44
21.64211.759104.68
31.70212.126111.92

3rd Place
Eric Schaefer
Hillsborough, NJ'04 Mach 1

Eric Schaefer completed the 1-2-3 sweep of the Mach 1s with an 11.46-second best. He spent most of the day trying to perfect the tune-up in his Mach 1, as he had only a couple of days to get the powerplant ready for the shootout. Even though the car was running out of fuel at high rpm, forcing him to use Fifth gear at the finish line as a safety measure, he was able to make a strong showing. Powering his Mach is the accompanying Four-Valve, though the 4.6L had its cylinders punched out an extra 0.030. Eric was one of the few who utilized a centrifugal blower to make power-in his case, a ProCharger D1SC blowing in 15 pounds of boost. As the day progressed, Eric got quicker and quicker, eventually landing in Third Place with the aforementioned 11.46-second pass. Except for the first run, a 12.65, he stayed in the 11-second zone.

Weigh In
Owner:Eric Schaefer
Hometown:Hillsborough, NJ
Driver:Eric Schaefer
Car:'04 Mach 1
Weight w/Driver:3,584 lbs
Engine:'04 0.030-over 4.6L
Built/Tuned By:Eric Schaefer
Power Adder:ProCharger D1SC supercharger pushing 15 lbs of boost
Heads:Ported stock
Camshafts:Crower single-patterns featuring 222 duration and 0.475 lift
Best ET/MPH:11.462/121.45
Log Book
Run No.60-FtETMPH
11.74611.462121.45
21.77111.713115.02
31.90411.842120.02

4th Place
Kevin Harvey
Mooresville, NC
'99 Cobra

Kevin Harvey hails from NASCAR country, and he almost didn't make it to our shootout. In the photo to the right, you see him holding the trash-a piston from the motor he fragged a few days before the event. A couple of all-night thrashings and no sleep enabled Kevin to show up and represent the Cobra contingent. He slapped on a ProCharger P1SC blower and utilized the ensuing 14 pounds of boost to break into the 11-second zone on his last pass of the day. In addition to seeing action on the dragstrip, Kevin also tosses the Cobra through corners at open-track events near his home. Instead of ditching the IRS, he beefed it up and, to the shock of those in attendance, had the fourth best 60-foot out of everyone there (Roy Cole had the top three), with a 1.669. Not too shabby!

Weigh In
Owner:Kevin Harvey
Hometown:Mooresville, NC
Driver:Kevin Harvey
Car:'99 Cobra
Weight w/Driver:3,684 lbs
Engine:'07 FRPP 4.6L aluminum block, Cobra crank, Diamond pistons, Manley rods
Built/Tuned By:MM Performance
Power Adder:ProCharger P1SC supercharger pushing 14 lbs of boost
Heads:Ported and polished stock
Camshafts:Custom-ground Houston Performance billet cams
Best ET/MPH:11.882/121
Log Book
Run No.60-FtETMPH
11.79611.882121.69
21.66912.063119.87
31.85212.196120.71

5th Place
Ken Pimental
Carver, MA
'04 Mach 1

Ken Pimental had the only automatic transmission-equipped car at the shootout, and after solving traction issues, he got it into the low-12-second range to end up in Fifth Place. The Competition Orange Mach 1 was by far the brightest car of the bunch, and it utilized a ProCharger P1SC centrifugal blower tuned by Dez Racing to enhance the power level of the stock Four-Valve. Except for the blower and normal exhaust system changes, Ken's Mach 1 was pretty much left factory-fresh. He has owned the car since new and cruised to Raceway Park to let it all hang out. After spinning the tires through most of Second gear early on, he swapped on a spare set of gummy shoes. The result was a better run through the middle, culminating with increasingly lower elapsed times. Overall, Ken's car performed with bracket-like consistency throughout the day.

Weigh In
Owner:Ken Pimental
Hometown:Carver, MA
Driver:Ken Pimental
Car:'04 Mach 1
Weight w/Driver:3,694 lbs
Engine:Stock
Built/Tuned By:Dez Racing
Power Adder:ProCharger P1SC pushing 9 lbs of boost
Heads:Stock
Camshafts:Stock
Best ET/MPH:12.098/117.9969
Log Book
Run No.60-FtETMPH
11.93012.098117.92
21.94112.102117.99
32.06012.325117.69

6th Place
Jamie Robinson
Moultrie, GA
'01 Cobra

Jamie Robinson's Cobra was the only pure naturally aspirated car in the lot. With only bolt-ons such as a Bassani exhaust system, a JLT cold-air kit, a custom dyno tune, and 4.30 gears, Jamie showed what a mostly stock Cobra could do with a great driver, as he clearly had the launch and powershifting technique down pat. By great, we mean phenomenal, as he made the stock five-speed stick sound like an automatic going down track. With the mild bolt-on work and a swap to sticky rear drag radials and front skinnies, Jamie got the Cobra into the mid-12-second zone. As with Eric Schaefer's Cobra, Jamie kept the IRS and wowed us with a 1.680-second 60-foot time. Of course, he-and we-have to thank his wife, Ellen, for letting him come out and play with the boys.

Weigh In
Owner:Jamie Robinson
Hometown:Moultrie, GA
Driver:Jamie Robinson
Car:'01 Cobra
Weight w/Driver:3,550 lbs
Engine:Stock
Built/Tuned By:Runnin' With the Devil
Power Adder:None
Heads:Stock
Camshafts:Stock
Best ET/MPH:12.450/109.33
Log Book
Run No.60-FtETMPH
11.68012.450109.33
21.75412.568109.22
31.77912.628108.93