Muscle Mustangs & Fast FordsFeatured Vehicles
Wanted! Dead Or Alive
Outlaw racers across the land want a piece of Dan Millen and his 7-second white pony
Dan Millen is a wanted man. His crime: Terrorizing dragstrips with 7-second runs and getaway speeds in excess of 190 mph. He takes no prisoners and can be spotted slipping in and out of small towns with his low-slung white pony that purrs with a whoosh from the speed-giving turbocharger. But before you attempt to apprehend, you must be cautioned, Millen may be hard to recognize because he wears a suit of armor with a protective helmet and is not after some damsel in distress. His mission: Run 6s at 200 and become top eliminator in the Fun Ford Weekend Outlaw class.
Millen and his posse from Livernois Motorsports hail from Dearborn Heights, Michigan, and, collectively, they are one of the top teams in ranks of Street Outlaw. As the name implies, Street Outlaw is home to wild men who've stuffed sick 1,500hp small-blocks in modified Mustangs. Sometimes the power is overwhelming, but when it goes right they can rocket themselves to mid-7s at nearly 200 mph.
However, Dan Millen didn't always ride so quickly. Instead he clawed his way to the top by practicing his power adder punch. Actually, he got started in drag racing right after high school with his friend Rick Irvin. "I first went down to the 1996 Spring Break Shootout with my '85 GT, and it went 11s on motor and low 10s with nitrous," Millen says. "It had a 331, a five-speed, and a carburetor, but we didn't take racing too seriously. We had fun at that race so we returned to the Spring Break Shootout in 1997 with a bigger engine and did pretty well. We went to the final and then ran in the Norwalk True Street and won with a 9-second average," he added.
For the next two seasons Millen raced the GT in True Street and other assorted Ford events. His car was definitely getting quicker and he was getting more serious about winning, so he planned a trip to the 1999 World Ford Challenge. Unfortunately, a nitrous backfire put an end to his glory run at the WFC, but ultimately, the deal motivated him to do better. Millen and his team wasted little time and pulled out the juice and switched over to a totally new combination.
They called on the services of Skinny Kid Race Cars in White Lake, Michigan, to prepare a '92 LX for Outlaw competition. When the chassis was ready, Millen stuffed in a 400-inch Windsor with a Vortech and a Powerglide, as per the NMRA Super Street Outlaw guidelines. After sorting out the usual bugs, the blown LX spit out low 8s, but Millen saw the future and the future was turbocharged. He replaced the Vortech with a 91mm turbo that fed a smaller 357-incher, and the basic looking LX stormed into the 7s with regularity.
"We really took racing seriously at that point," said Millen. "We took it like a job and really worked hard and tested a lot." The effort paid off and the Livernois boys won the 2000 NMRA SS/O championship and set the class record with a run of 7.89 at 179 mph. Millen also set the Fun Ford Weekend Street Oultaw record in 2001 with a quicker blast of 7.61 at 187 mph. But running mid-7s and at 180 mph was getting to be a bit too much for the LX.
"The LX was built to run low 8s," says Millen. "We knew (with the power) it could go 7.50s (which requires a 25.1C certified chassis) so we decided to have a new car built because, according to the guys at Skinny Kid, it was easier than updating the car we had."
Once more, SKRC broke out the welders and assembled a new hot rod for quarter-mile competition. And as you may imagine, this time the Millen's horse rides as it has been bred to handle massive power and speed. It began life as a stock Mustang shell, or "body-in-white," but before hitting the track it was fortified with a tubular chassis and a re-worked front suspension with a custom K-member and Strange struts and springs. Meanwhile, the rear of the machine was prepped with tubs and a 9-inch Ford rear that hangs from a custom four-link. However, all the mounting was supplied to use a ladder bar, should the rules call for it. And in addition, SKRC used it's own anti-rollbar design along with adjustable AFCO coilover shocks to keep the Mickey Thompson "W" tires hooked from start to finish.
For motivation Millen turned to his in-house engine room at Livernois. He and the gang assembled a powerplant to take advantage of the S/O rules with a 9.2-inch Windsor race block that was fitted with a LA Billet crank, G.R.P. aluminum rods and JE pistons designed to achieve 8.0:1 compression. The heads are Brodix/Neal BF202 casts that hold 2.20-/1.60-inch titanium valves, Comp Cams valve springs and 1.70:1 Jesel rockers. Porting was accomplished in-house via their own custom CNC program. The mill is fed by a 91mm turbo and it blows into a custom Edelbrock intake. Throttle body is sized at 95mm and fuel flow is controlled by the F.A.S.T. EFI system. Once all the MSD ignition equipment was hooked up and dyno tested, the powerplant was slipped into the frame and hooked to the Neal Chance converted and Bruno three-speed transmission. A 3.89 gear is housed in the 9-inch and turns Strange axles and Mickey Thompson tires.
Amazingly, while plenty powerful, Millen did not like the car right away. "We had plenty of power, but couldn't get the new car sorted out," he stated about the new chassis. "We had transmission trouble and then a problem with the brakes sticking, so we tested and tested until we found the sweet spot." Despite the trouble, Millen towed his machine to the popular World Ford Challenge in 2002. He spun the tires every run, but somehow made it to the final where he faced Ford racing legend Bob Glidden. "The highlight of my career was racing Glidden. I talked to Bob before the race and he was pretty cool and I asked him to sign my timeslip, win or lose. I wasn't nervous because I try not to let another racer bother me. I raced Mike Murillo in 2001, red-lighted and, after that, I told myself that no racer would ever bother me again."
For Millen, however, it was extra special racing Glidden. Like many Ford fans, Bob Glidden is a hero, having won 10 NHRA Pro Stock championships. Additionally few would ever get to see the legend race and even fewer would get to run a final with him. Lastly, everything in Millen's car was new and he never expected to make it that far. This time, like many others, Glidden's opponent was the underdog, but with $10,000 on the line the team from Livernois adjusted the car and headed to the line. "Glidden let me sit there a bit, but on green we launched good and I beat him with a 7.89. I think he got loose and had to lift because he ran an 8.60," Millen explained.
Millen was elated after the pass, and for good reason. He and his crew sorted out the new car and beat a racing legend, all in less than 8 seconds. They pocketed the cool $10,000 and went on to do further damage in the FFW series running in the mid-7s almost every pass. And as if that wasn't enough, they cleaned house at the Clash of the Titans drag race in San Antonio, Texas, with a 7.17-second run at 198 mph. It was the quickest pass for a Mustang on 10-wides ever.
For 2003 Millen will return with the white pony and more power to boot. The gang from Livernois plans on running the entire FFW schedule along with hitting some NMCA and NMRA action. These days Dan Millen owns and drives the quickest and fastest small-tire Mustang, but he won't rest until the timeslip reads 6.99 at 200 mph. Those are the next barriers in Mustang drag racing, and even if they score 'em both I doubt the boys from Michigan will relax.