Greg Clark
September 30, 2005
Photos By: Miles Cook, Jasper Trout

Factory Five Racing (FFR) is known for its replicas of great American muscle. In ten years they've become one of the most recognized names in the business. Started by Mark and David Smith in 1995, the company has earned its reputation by sticking to a philosophy of doing it right. From the new Mark III Roadster to the FFR Spyder GT, they make arguably some of the best cars around.

Because the kit relies on donor parts from late model Mustangs, they are strong and reliable. You can go to your favorite parts house for replacement parts later on: There's no need to worry about finding an exotic brake rotor or control arm. That's not to say you can't upgrade to beefier parts. Every part is available as an upgrade, from independent rear suspension to coil-over springs to fully adjustable control arms.

From the passion they share with their customers for the cars and racing, the Factory Five Racing Challenge Series was born. Sanctioned under the National Auto Sport Association, the series was designed to be both affordable and competitive. FFR has updated some roadster components for racing, and sells a kit as well as complete cars. Considering one can be built for about $20,000, racing wheel-to-wheel in a competitive environment is within reach for most everyone. The FFR spec racer is designed for track use but may be street legal in some states.

The car begins as the standard Mark III Roadster with tube frame chassis modified to NASA and SCCA rules for Open GT-1 cars. The cage and the frame are welded together for strength and safety, and the door hinges are replaced with tubular caging. Three-link suspension is an upgrade on the Mark III Roadster, but standard on the racing model. The coil-over shocks, fuel cell and steering rack are also standard on the racer. You'll still need donor parts, but with more standard parts included in the race kit the list is shorter.

If you're considering buying a Mark III Roadster and think you might want to take it racing, think again. Because of the changes in the tube frame and chassis, you won't be allowed to race the Mark III in this series: The rules don't allow it. Take this into consideration before buying. The folks at FFR are always willing to help with the buying process.

Intrigued by the idea of this series, we headed to Phoenix International Raceway (PIR) to see the cars and the competition firsthand. Set up like most races, there was practice time before qualifying, giving the racers a chance to shake out their cars and get ready for action. Spencer Sharp qualified first--PIR is his home track, followed by Dave Rhea and Donny Edwards qualifying second and third respectively.

Racing for 26 laps on PIR's 1.51-mile racetrack, the competition was fierce throughout the 16-car field. Spencer Sharp paced the field again with a win, followed by Donny Edwards and Dave Rhea. The only casualties were Rick Anderson and James Bondurant, who exchanged parts on the backstretch, but as they say, that's just racing. No helmets were thrown or words exchanged.

This series is about more than just racing. While everyone may be competitive on the track, they also help each other afterwards, whether on their cars or their technique. Of course, there might have been one or two exagerations about somebody's driving technique. But that's required in racing. Check out the photos of the action, and then contact Factory Five Racing to get a car and join the race.