Steve Baur
Former Editor, Modified Mustangs & Fords
October 1, 2009
Photos By: Kevin DiOssi
Paul Liparato of Palm Harbor, Florida, had one of the few Fox-bodies on the property and didn't hesitate to put the hammer down.

There's no doubt you'll find a lot of drag racing tech and event coverage here on the pages of Muscle Mustangs & Fast Fords magazine. Drag racing is the easiest and cheapest way for you to go fast in your Mustang or Ford-plain and simple. If you've found yourself bored with the straight, 1,320-foot speed test, and you want to explore the overall limits of your Mustang, then you need to bang some corners in addition to banging gears in a straight line. To accomplish this, you can visit your local autocross, or do something really fun like go to a road course racetrack.

For years, Camp Steeda has offered the latter to enthusiasts who want to extract the maximum from both their cars and themselves. The annual event, held at Sebring International Raceway in Sebring, Florida, returned once more for 2009 and set the Mustang maniacs loose on Sebring's famous 3.7-mile, 17-turn stretch of pavement. Trackguys Performance Driving Events organized the whole event, which combines a driving school with open track time for those who are already experienced enough to drive solo.

Will Franssen of Montrose, Pennsylvania, was our track instructor last year, and he allowed us to turn a few laps in his modified Cobra. Thankfully we didn't forget anything he taught us, and we might have even improved since then, as Franssen saw fit to sign us off to run solo. Thanks, Will.

This year, Trackguys also instituted a new program called the Test Drive. For those that aren't sure whether or not the road racing thing is for them, the Test Drive offers an inexpensive way to get a taste of driving at the limit, both in a straight line and around the curves. For a $40 fee, you get a Saturday-only pass that puts you in the classroom with the driving school for the day, allows you to take the parade laps at the noon break, and gives you one full on-track session with a Trackguys instructor. If you get hooked, like most people do, Trackguys puts your $40 toward the following day's registration fee.

Last year, we brought you the details of the driving school part of the event, as your author looked to gain some track experience and driving instruction, in addition to being able to flog our '93 Cobra project, Stolen Goods. This year, we opted to stay largely behind the camera, though in between photographs and interviews, we managed to catch a few rides with instructors Will Franssen and Matt Guida. Franssen even turned the keys to his own Cobra Mustang over to us for a few laps around the famed circuit.

Camp Steeda 2009 also saw the debut of a pair of Steeda Autosports' '10 Mustangs, and Steeda's Dario Orlando tossed the MM&FF staff the keys so we could turn a few laps in one. The car we sampled was a pre-production version equipped with Steeda's sport coils, front and rear antiroll bars and endlinks, lower control arms, and strut tower brace. The Pony also featured a few exterior Steeda touches along with the company's big brake kit and a set of its 20-inch Spyder wheels with Nitto Invo tires.

We grabbed Steeda's vice president of operations and SCCA road racer Glen Vitale to ride shotgun, and on track, the Steeda Mustang felt very composed whether you were bending a turn or bouncing the car off the curbs. It cornered and braked flat, yet it was far from harsh, and certainly something we could see commuting in every day. It's non-dramatic reactions to the track and driver inputs inspired confidence in the driver, and we look forward to testing one of Steeda's cars with a few power upgrades. The 20-inch Nitto Invo tires also pleasantly surprised us, as they offered much more grip than we expected, and were very predictable at the edge of traction. They also held up to the rigors of driving at Sebring very well.

The Steeda Autosports team also had SCCA American Sedan South East Division Champion Tom Ellis and 2008 NASA American Iron Champ Robin Burnett turning laps in their Steeda-prepared Mustangs and taking enthusiasts for rides in their purpose-built steeds. For Steeda customers and Mustang enthusiasts in general, Camp Steeda is the perfect place for you to enjoy everything your Mustang has to offer.

The Steeda was flat in the corners, yet it absorbed bumps and curbs with ease.

Off track, there was the Saturday night banquet, which featured great barbeque delectables, as well as a host of raffle prizes. This year, event sponsors stepped up in a big way with prizes. Steeda Autosports, Total Mustang Supply, Royal Purple, Garmin, Chicane23, and Tremec Transmissions all made the $35 banquet fee a worthy gamble, and Nitto Tires was looking to get everyone hooked on turning by giving away 30 sets of its NT01 ultra-high-performance tires.

For 2010, the Steeda crew, along with Jeff Lacina, Dell Hughes and the rest of the Trackguys staff are looking to make Camp Steeda even bigger and better, so be sure to put it on your calendar. To keep up with Camp Steeda event information, or for information on other Steeda shows and high-performance driving events, visit www.steeda.com or www.trackguys.com.