Pete Epple Technical Editor
January 24, 2011
Photos By: Team MM&FF

As members of the greatest late-model Mustang publication, we work very hard to stay on the pulse of the Mustang world.

We usually don't need to look far for newsworthy stories, but when it came to the 2011 Mustang, the phone seemed to ring almost daily with stories of someone raising the performance bar another notch. Seemingly before the 2011 Mustang GTs began to surface in dealer lots and at racetracks across the country, rumors of how much horsepower the TiVCT 5.0-liter-powered Ponies made began popping up all over the Internet. When MM&FF finally got its hands on a test vehicle and blasted out quarter-mile times in the low 12.30-range with nothing other than a rear tire swap, we knew these claims were more than mere rumors.

Soon after the car's release, tuner shops all over the country began finding ways to add power. A massive influx of research and development led to impressively quick track times and even more impressive power levels. Soon, many shops found themselves in an undeclared war to be the quickest and fastest with Ford's latest rendition of the Pony car.

The Muscle Mustangs & Fast Fords 2011 5.0-liter Shootout was conceived to bring the quickest and fastest naturally aspirated and power-adder-equiped '11 Mustangs to one location for a run-whatcha-brung day of on-track action. We invited seven N/A cars and five power adder cars to compete in early September. The event was held at Englishtown Raceway Park to take advantage of the great weather conditions in the Northeast, along with the spectacular track prep E-town always provides.

Our competitiors have put together some of the nastiest combinations available for the '11 Mustang GT. From big boost and built motors to simple bolt-ons, there is something for everyone.

Nelson Whitlock

Aston, Pennsylvania

9.41 @ 132 MPH

Research and development is hugely important when it comes to getting down the track with a new car or powertrain. Nelson Whitlock and the rest of the crew from Evolution Performance in Aston, Pennsylvania know this all too well. As soon as the 2011 Mustang GT hit dealerships, the Evolution crew began making passes and logging data.

Photo Gallery

View Photo Gallery

Since Whitlock picked up his 5.0L-powered Pony, extensive testing was done in naturally aspirated form as well as with healthy amounts of nitrous oxide. When word of our shootout made its way to Evolution, Whitlock ditched the giggle gas in favor of something different. He rolled into Englishtown with the most radical combination of all the participants.

The stock engine was pulled and fortified with Diamond pistons and Oliver rods from L&M Race Engines in Hatboro, Pennsylvania. An ATI/ProCharger F1C centrifugal supercharger pumps 20 psi of boost into the stock intake manifold after a Stage 2 air-to-air intercooler from ProCharger drops the temperature. An Alky Control water/methanol kit also helps reduce inlet air temps.

A Pro-Formance C4 backs the powerplant with a 5,500-stall converter transferring power to the trans. A blend of Evolution Performance and QA1 suspension components help get all of the power to the track, with 28-inch-tall, 10.5-inch-wide Mickey Thompson ET Drag tires keeping Evolution's 2011 GT glued to the track.

Like many of the people competing in our shootout, the Evolution crew rolled the car out of the trailer with a basically untested combination. As Whitlock pulled into the water box and began to heat the Mickey Thompsons, all eyes watched to see what 20 psi of boost would translate to on track. Whitlock left hard and the rear meats dug into the track surface. With all day to make passes, he cut his first run short and coasted to a 10.53 at 109 mph. On his next run, he wound his Kona Blue 2011 out a little further, but still clicked it off early, coasting to a 10.08 at 120 mph. The next attempt was a bust as tire spin forced Whitlock to abort the run shortly after it began.

As the afternoon progressed, Whitlock knew it was time to lay down a number. With the Mickeys hot, he inched into the beams and brought the revs up against the converter. The car dug in hard when he let go of the transbrake button, and he stayed in the grove from start to finish. When the scoreboards at the big end lit up, we were all excited to see a 9.41-second e.t. at 132 mph, which stood as the quickest run of the day.

Justin Burcham

Crownsville, Maryland

9.84 @ 139 MPH

As the owner of Justin's Performance Center (JPC), Justin Burcham spends much of his time testing combinations. When the '11 Mustang GT was released, it made perfect sense for him to pick up a test mule. Within days of taking delivery of his 5.0-liter-powered Mustang, he was credited with being the first in the 10s ("10s Too Easy," Sept. '10).

Photo Gallery

View Photo Gallery

For our shootout, Burcham wanted to run a combination the average person could have. The factory exhaust was ditched in favor of Kook's headers and X-style midpipe; a Bassani axle-back finished off the exhaust. Burcham added a Paxton Novi2200 centrifugal supercharger, a custom-made 4.5-inch mass air meter housing keeps track of the incoming air, and a Paxton air-to-air intercool keeps the air charge temperatures under control. The Paxton system cranks out 9 psi of boost with a 3.400-inch pulley. Once Kevin MacDonald worked his magic in the computer, the 5.0 laid down 661 rwhp.

At the track, Burcham blasted out a 10.60 at 132 mph, followed by a better 10.53 at 131 mph, but he wasn't happy with how the car was leaving the starting line. The front and rear springs were adjusted to level out the ride heights, resulting in better weight transfer. Burcham also decided to swap supercharger pulleys. The 3.400-inch pulley was replaced with a 3.250-inch pulley, which added about 2.5 psi of boost.

Burcham's next pass netted a near half-second improvement-a 9.97 at 137 mph. After a few more adjustments, he rolled up to the line again, dumped the clutch, and rowed through the gears in his Tremec TKO-600. His e.t. improved to a 9.84 at 139 mph, the fastest mph of the day.

Richard Lelsz

Alvin, Texas

9.94 @ 133 MPH

Coming into our shootout, Richard Lelsz had the quickest and fastest pass to date with a 2011 5.0-powered Mustang. Lelsz is the owner of Strictly Performance in Houston, Texas, and picked up his white 2011 to test combinations for the shop. With only a few hundred miles on the odometer, Lelsz' Mustang was equipped with a Performance Automatic C4 and 250hp direct-port fogger system from NOS. Just a few weeks before our shootout, Lelsz churned out the first 9-second pass with a 9.96 at 137 mph at Houston Raceway Park.

Photo Gallery

View Photo Gallery

Lelsz made the long trip from Texas to New Jersey and little had changed on the car. When he approached the line, the MM&FF staff was looking for him to set the bar early. The white GT left the line in a hurry, but like most of the other competitors, Lelsz cut the test pass short, running an 11.10 at 82 mph. For his second run, Lelsz' GT left hard again but slowed in the second half of the track to a 10.36 at only 99 mph. A fuel issue caused the problem; Lelsz sat out the next two sessions while the issue was addressed.

When Lelsz returned to the track, he let it all hang out and car responded with a 9.94-second e.t. at 133 mph. The next two passes resulted in tire spin, which ended the runs early, but Lelsz would back his quickest pass up with a 9.95 at 135 mph in his final attempt.

"The car is great!" exclaims Lelsz. "I drive it to and from work and play with it on the weekends. My favorite part about the car is how fast it is!"

Sean Kelley

Virginia Beach, Virginia

10.76 @ 123 MPH

Sean Kelley is a Virginia Beach native who owns and operates Kelley Performance (Virginia Beach, Virginia). Kelley picked up his 2011 GT in Miami in June and hasn't changed very much. The engine is completely stock aside from the JLT Performance cold-air intake and the 150hp Zex nitrous oxide system. Not only is Kelley's engine stock, the automatic transmission is untouched also. The rearend gears have been swapped for 4.10s, and the suspension is in factory trim with the exception of the front and rear sway bars, which have been removed.

Photo Gallery

View Photo Gallery

The car serves as Kelley's daily transportation, and we were very surprised at how quickly and consistently it ran.

Kelley came out swinging. His first passes scored him two 10.91-second e.t.'s at 120 and 122 mph respectively. As he began to get a hold on the E-town starting line, Kelley was able to drop his e.t. to 10.87 at 122 mph, followed by a 10.92 at 122 mph. Kelley really got after it on his fifth run-a 10.76 at 123 mph, his best run of the day. The simple yet driveable combination impressed us-we think Kelley Performance has built a great street/strip 2011 Mustang GT.

"I drive the car everyday and was running in the 10s on the third trip to the track," Kelley tells us. "I have driven it three hours one way to the track with the air on and cruise control set. It's a full-weight car that runs 10s. That's not bad in my book!"

Terry "Beefcake" Reeves

Amelia, Ohio

10.86 @ 129 MPH

Terry Reeves is a huge Ford enthusiast. Over the past 10 years, he has owned everything from a '99 Cobra to an '01 Lightning to a '10 Mustang GT. After just three months, Reeves traded his '10 in for the Kona Blue '11 seen here. When he caught wind of our shootout, he quickly got on the list and made the trip from Ohio to Englishtown. Reeves, more affectionately know as Beefcake, is no stranger to MM&FF shootouts. He took to the track with MM&FF in 2002 for our Lightning Shootout.

Photo Gallery

View Photo Gallery

The stock '11 motor was upgraded with forced induction from a Vortech T-trim centrifugal supercharger feeding 8.75 psi of boost to the hungry Four-Valve. The kit was installed by Finish Line Performance in Milford, Ohio, and tuned by Jon Lund at Evolution Performance. With the help of full Stainless Works exhaust, Reeves' GT laid down a healthy 529 rwhp and 444 lb-ft of torque on Evolution's Mustang dyno.

Once Reeves heated the Mickey Thompson ET Streets, the car went into limp mode, resulting in a first pass of 31.95 at 32.70 mph. Once back in the pits, Lund retuned the Copperhead processor. The changes to the computer kept the car out of limp mode and the result was a 10.86 at 121 mph, which would stand as Reeves' best run of the day. In the next two sessions, Reeves pumped out nearly identical 10.89-second passes, both at 129 mph.

"I love coming to the track and racing with this many heavy-hitters from the Mustang world," Reeves tells us. "It's nice to be grouped with this caliber of people!"

Rick LeBlanc

Dearborn Heights, Michigan

11.25 @ 119 MPH

There is no disputing Livernois Motorsport's ability to make big power. Rick LeBlanc handles the company's advertising and marketing needs, and from time to time, he gets to come to the track. LeBlanc loaded Livernois' 2011 GT up and headed to E-town to show off its newest naturally aspirated combination.

Photo Gallery

View Photo Gallery

The stock engine was pulled and stripped before being reassembled with new Livernois go-fast goodies. The stock crankshaft was reused with a set of Livernois Motorsports/Manley H-beam connecting rods and Livernois Motorsports/Diamond pistons, which are designed to raise compression to 12:1. The stock cylinder heads received Livernois' Stage 1 CNC port work, and the stock camshafts were reused. The combination was topped off with a prototype intake manifold with a Cobra Jet cold-air intake system and 123mm mass air housing. The engine exhales through Stainless Works exhaust consisting of long-tube headers, X-style midpipe, and axle-back exhaust. Power is transferred to the stock six-speed automatic transmission through a Circle D 4,000-stall torque converter, and 4.10 gears have been added to help acceleration.

"The car has nearly 90 quarter-mile test passes on it," explains LeBlanc. "This new engine combination was installed and tuned only a few days before the shootout. For such a new combination, we are very happy with how it ran!"

The Performance White GT rolled into the burnout box, and LeBlanc heated the Mickey Thompson ET Street Radials and headed to the line. When he brought the revs up and traded feet, the car was gone in a flash. The first run netted LeBlanc a solid start to the day with a 12.67 at 96 mph. His next three trips down the quarter-mile showed an improvement of nearly a second and a half as the car bolted to an 11.29 followed by an 11.32 and another 11.29, all at 118 mph.

After giving the car a little extra time to cool, LeBlanc brought the car back to the starting line. The cooler engine temp paid off as LeBlanc rocket down the track to an 11.25 at 119 mph to take the quickest spot in the group of naturally aspirated 2011 Mustang GTs.

Fred Cook

Garnet Valley, Pennsylvania

11.35 @ 118 MPH

The Evolution Performance team has spent equal amounts of time testing in N/A trim as they have with different power-adder applications. The Grabber Blue GT, like the Kona Blue racecar, has served as an R&D tool for the Aston, Pennsylvania-based performance shop. Evolution's N/A Mustang belongs to Fred Cook and was piloted by Nelson Whitlock.

Photo Gallery

View Photo Gallery

With only 4,200 miles on the odometer, Cook and Whitlock added a Steeda cold-air intake with a 95mm mass air housing to help the 5.0-liter breath a little deeper. The Four-Valve exhales through a set of American Racing Headers headers and X-style midpipe, with a Borla after-cat exhaust system completing the exhaust. Jon Lund, who was on-hand to make changes to both Evolution Performance cars at the track, handled the calibration. The stock torque converter was swapped for a 4,200-stall version from Circle D, and 4.30 rear gears turn an Eaton TrueTrac differential, which distributes power to both wheels.

Coming into the shootout, Cook's Grabber Blue GT made 400 rwhp and 390 lb-ft of torque, and until this point, had run a best e.t. of 11.50 at 122 mph. With Whitlock behind the wheel, the first pass down the famed strip at E-town netted a new best of 11.42 at 118 mph. After a few adjustments, Whitlock headed out for his next pass, which resulted in the first of two 11.35-second passes, both at 118 mph. After two more attempts, Whitlock laid down an 11.41 and an 11.43, both at 117 mph, to finish off an impressively consistent day.

Joe Marini

Clinton, Maryland

11.37 @ 120 MPH

Joe Marini is a faithful JPC Racing customer, and when Marini decided to pick up his 2011 GT, the JPC crew jumped at the chance to have a second car in the shootout. JPC prepared the car by dropping a few unwanted pounds. A Kirky race seat resides where the factory bucket once sat, and the passenger seat and rear seat were removed. Marini's GT checked in at only 3,250 pounds with the driver on board. The engine was enhanced with a JLT Performance carbon-fiber cold-air intake and a custom tune using DiabloSport software. Kook's headers and midpipe replace the stock pipes; a Bassani after-cat system completes the exhaust.

Photo Gallery

View Photo Gallery

The six-speed manual's stock clutch was pulled in favor of a twin-disc set up from McLeod, and a one-piece drive was installed to replace the factory two-piece unit. The suspension was fortified with parts from Eibach, Strange Engineering, Metco, and JPC Racing. The rearend's internals were ripped out to make room for the Strange spool, 33-spline axles, and 4.88 gears.

Driving duties were split between Marini and Justin Burcham; the duo started with an 11.70-second pass in the first session, followed by a slower 12.15 at 116 mph. After heating the Mickey Thompson slicks, Burcham ripped off an 11.76 at 117 mph, but he knew the car could go quicker. After a clean, hard launch, Burcham rowed through the gears, which resulted in an e.t. of 11.37 at just under 120 mph.

Adam Browne

Baltimore, Maryland

11.45 @ 120 MPH

One of the greatest benefits to a shoot-out like this is the exposure to many different combinations. Adam Browne is the owner of Revolution Automotive, and he took a different approach for our shootout. When Browne built his 2011, the short-block remained stock, but the TiVCT Four-Valve heads received some work.

Photo Gallery

View Photo Gallery

AHM Performance in Rosedale, Maryland, smoothed the intake ports and opened the exhaust ports before a five-angle valve job finished them off. The engine is fed by a JLT Performance cold-air intake. American Racing Headers 1 7/8-inch headers let the 5.0-liter breath easy, and Flowmaster mufflers give the car that classic Mustang growl. Browne handled the tuning with the help of SCT software, which allowed it to make 435 rwhp and 395 lb-ft of torque.

A McLeod clutch connects the engine to the stock six-speed manual transmission. QA1 coil-overs sit where the stock struts once were, and QA1 adjustable shocks sit out back. Browne removed three-quarters of a coil from the stock rear spring to adjust the ride height, and UPR Products upper and lower control arms keep the rearend in line.

"When I race, I kill it!" Browne tells us. "I launch the car around 6,000 rpm, and powershift every gear around 7,200." His technique paid off as he quickly followed his first pass of 11.57 at 120 mph with his quickest and fastest of the day, tripping the beams at 11.45 seconds at 120 mph. Browne made six more passes down the 1,320. An 11.55 was the closest he came to his best run, but consistent mid-11.50s were the norm for Browne's N/A 2011.

Joseph Jones

Woodbine, Maryland

11.67 @ 117 MPH

Joseph Jones (JJ) of Woodbine, Maryland is the President of Woodbine Motor Sports (WMS). Although WMS may be more known for the Lightning trucks it builds, JJ picked up his 2011 Mustang GT to show just how easy it is to make an incredible daily driver with little more than simple bolt-on performance parts and quality tuning.

Photo Gallery

View Photo Gallery

"We feel the majority of 2011 Mustang GT owners will do simple modifications," JJ explains. "We provide our customers with the parts they want and great service to go with it. We plan on road racing and drag racing our car while keeping it very streetable and reliable," JJ adds.

The short list of mods on JJ's 2011 starts with a cold-air intake system from JLT Performance. The stock headers and midpipe have been left in place; an after-cat exhaust system from Pypes replaced the stock mufflers. Metco upper and lower control arms sit where the stock links once were, and a BMR Fabrication adjustable Panhard bar and support bracket keep the rearend inline under the car.

Coming into the shootout, JJ's personal best in his 2011 was an 11.90 at 114 mph. His first pass of the day saw his best e.t. drop to an 11.77 at 114 mph. The next two passes brought even better results as JJ laid down an 11.75, followed by an 11.69, at 114 and 115 mph respectively.

Though he slowed slightly on his fourth pass, the fifth run was his best effort of the day. The boards lit up as he crossed the stripe with an 11.67-second pass at 117 mph, his quickest and fastest of the day.

Jay Tucker

Chesapeake, Virginia

11.95 @ 114 MPH

Some of the cars in our 2011 Mustang Shootout were set up to hit the dragstrip in full-race or street/strip trim. Jay Tucker, owner of JLT Performance, brought his Kona Blue 2011 in nearly the same trim as when he heads out to the road course.

Photo Gallery

View Photo Gallery

"We removed the front sway bar and put a pair of slicks on it," explains Tucker. "We left the 20-inch Boze wheels on the front and headed out."

Tucker's 2011 has been updated with a JLT cold-air intake system and an SCT custom tune, with American Racing Headers headers and X-style midpipe with high-flow cats to help the 5.0L breath easier. The stock clutch has been removed in favor of a replacement from McLeod, which helps Tucker hit the gears as he heads down the track. The suspension has been modified with FRPP springs in the front and rear, and Mecto upper and lower control arms, which help keep the rearend in line.

When Tucker took to the famed quarter-mile, his first attempt netted him a 12.34-second e.t. at 113 mph, but he wanted more. After aborting the next run, Tucker was ready for a better run. After heating the Mickey Thompson slicks, he traded pedals and rowed through the gears on his way to an 11.95 at 114 mph.

Tucker used the next two sessions to try and improve on his best time, but that would be his only 11-second time as he pumped out a 12.21 and a 12.11, both at 113 mph.

"This was my first MM&FF shootout," Tucker adds. "We had a car there that represents what most people would have on the street, and it was great to be a part of it."

Lidio Iacobelli

Chesterfield, Michigan

12.16 @ 113 MPH

Six hundred and fifty miles is quite a trip-especially when you drive all that way to race a car, then drive home. Lidio Iacobelli made the trip from Chesterfield, Michigan, to E-town just to be a part of our shootout. Not to take anything away from the competitors who made the trip from further locations, but Iacobelli drove his California Special (GTCS) from Michigan to New Jersey, then drove it home once he finished making his runs!

Photo Gallery

View Photo Gallery

"I run what most people would drive," explains Iacobelli. "My car is mostly stock with some bolt-ons-something the average person would build." Iacobelli is the owner of Alternative Auto.

The combination in this black GTCS is simple. Iacobelli installed a C&L cold-air intake and Kook's headers with a catted X-style midpipe and Flowmaster mufflers, with a custom SCT tune tying it all together. The factory rolling stock has been replaced with 20-inch Enkie hoops wrapped in Nitto rubber. The factory brake rotors have been replaced with 14-inch rotors from Baer Brakes.

Iacobelli's 2011 barely had an hour to cool down from the 10.5-hour trip, and the only change made was to the tire pressure in the NT05R drag radials. The first pass netted him a 12.27-second e.t. at 112 mph. Iacobelli hit the starting line a little harder on his second run, and the result was his best pass of the day at 12.16 at 113 mph. This was quickly followed by a 12.20 and a 12.22, at 113 and 112 mph respectively. With his passes complete, Iacobelli aired up the drag radial and headed back to Michigan.

2011 Mustang Shootout

Results
NameWeightTransmission
(With Driver)
Nelson Whitlock3,420C4
Justin Burcham3,455TKO-600
Richard Lelsz3,555C4
Sean Kelley3,8956R80
Terry Reeves3,8756R80
Rick LeBlanc3,6406R80
Fred Cook3,6206R80
Joe Marini3,250MT-82
Adam Browne3,485MT-82
Joseph Jones3,556MT-82
Jay Tucker3,795MT-82
Lidio Iacobelli3,8806R80

Photo Gallery

View Photo Gallery
Driver 1st Pass 2nd Pass
Nelson Whitlock 10.53/109.15 10.08/120.89
Justin Burcham 10.53/131.66 9.97/137.33
Richard Lelsz 11.10/82.72 10.36/99.67
Sean Kelley 10.91/120.40 10.91/122.87
Terry Reeves 31.95/32.70 10.86/129.01
Rick LeBlanc 11.29/118.93 11.32/118.32
Fred Cook 11.42/118.22 11.35/118.42
Joe Marini 11.70/113.92 11.37/119.65
Adam Browne 11.57/120.68 11.45/120.81
Joseph Jones 11.75/114.96 11.69/115.42
Jay Tucker 12.34/113.88 11.95/114.11
Lidio Iacobelli 12.27/112.57 12.16/113.47


Driver 3rd Pass 4th Pass
Nelson Whitlock 15.44.51.86 9.41/132.11
Justin Burcham 9.84/139.36 9.94/139.86
Richard Lelsz 9.94/133.79 9.95/135.69
Sean Kelley 10.87/122.36 10.76/123.28
Terry Reeves 10.89/129.27 10.89/129.75
Rick LeBlanc 11.29/118.49 11.25/119.10
Fred Cook 11.41/117.90 11.35/118.54
Joe Marini 11.69/118.14 11.40/119.76
Adam Browne 11.55/120.55 11.57/119.69
Joseph Jones 11.67/117.13 11.76/115.20
Jay Tucker 12.21/113.27 12.11/113.53
Lidio Iacobelli 12.20/113.00 12.22/112.58
*although some of the racers made more than four passes, only the four best are presented here.