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Outlaws on the Run
These Bullitt boys take mattersinto their own hands.
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Ever since Fun Ford opened up the rules a couple of years ago, Street Outlaw has provided some of the most exciting racing anywhere in the sport. Gone are the days when you could pull into an event with a production car and a centrifugal blower or a shot of nitrous and expect to get into the field. Advanced e.t. cars built specifically for this class are now the order of the day along with turbos capable of supporting in excess of 2,000 hp or more.
That's what Mike Calvert and his supporting cast of family and friends saw coming when they looked at building their '01 Bullitt Mustang a couple of years ago. If you were going to hunt elephants, then you'd better bring a big gun. Calvert knew it would take nothing less than the best car and equipment possible to be competitive--and that's exactly what this team has brought to the hunt.
"The car we're using was built by The Race Factory in Hampton, Georgia, with Fun Ford Pro rules in mind," Mike said about his Mustang. "They do really nice, clean work and it's pretty convenient to where I live. I can put a 16x33.5 tire on this car and run Pro 5.0, but we just decided to go with the smaller tire and keep it in Street Oulaw. At this point, if we ever had another car built, the only thing I'd really change for this class would be to add double framerails for extra stiffness and stability."
The Mustang was recently updated and tweaked further by Cajun Pro Cars, also located in Georgia, to handle the excessive amount of horsepower coming from the engine.
The decision to compete in Street Outlaw rather than Pro might have a lot to do right now with Calvert's roots in Ford racing more than anything else.
"My father used to drag race when I was a kid. All of the vehicles our family owned were Fords," Mike recalled. "He used to street race some with a '65 Mustang fastback, so I guess that's where I inherited all this from. I got started about four or five years ago when I started playing with my street car, which was an '87 Mustang LX with a stock 302 in it. We used to take it to the dragstrip on Friday nights and play around with it. We got it to run 11-flat before we built another motor for it and got the car down into the 9.50 range. After a while, that wasn't quick enough, so we added some nitrous."
Calvert drove this Stang to one final round appearance and a fifth place finish in Street Outlaw points in 2002. In addition, he also won a few times on the Outlaw 10.5 circuit. Not bad by any standards, but still not good enough for the Bullitt Boys. The team took a big step for 2003 by picking up a new tow rig, changed from a Powerglide to a Lenco/Bruno automatic transmission and then updated the car with a carbon-fiber nose. An increase in power was on the list of improvements for a quarter-mile assault in 2003.
Those changes made a difference in a big way as Calvert made six final round appearances that year while winning three and finishing second in championship points. In addition, his was one of just a handful of cars to break into the 7.20 zone and break through the 200-mph barrier in S/O competition. Calvert has gone as high as 203 mph with his turbocharged Mustang. Throw in the fact that they over came a scary looking fire and crash at Richmond and you can appreciate the progress this team made in 2003.
"The only bad part is that it takes a lot of money to run at this level," Calvert said. "Because of that, there aren't always a lot of cars in the class. We have about $125K in the car and another $400, 000 in the tow rig. Then it takes about $3 to $4 grand just to run every event in Fun Ford itself."
With expenses like that, cutting corners with the engine program doesn't make a lot of sense. With that in mind, Calvert turns to Jason Fields of RJ Performance in nearby Sharspburg, Georgia. Power comes from a 401-cubic-inch engine combo that utilizes an RDI aluminum block with a 4.125-inch bore and a 3.750-inch stroke. A Scat billet crank uses GRP rods mounted with Ross low-compression, dished pistons to fill up the cylinder bore. Topping the engine are Bennett Racing heads and an Edelbrock Super Victor cast intake. With a Precision 101mm turbo providing ample boost through a PT2400 liquid-to-air intercooler, Calvert uses a single Weldon 2035 with a MSD 7AL2 box and a programmable F.A.S.T. EFI system to light the mixture at the precise moment for maximum horsepower.
"In going through the learning curve with nitrous, we tore up a lot of stuff," Calvert said about his first Mustang. "We were up in the air about going with a supercharger or a turbo, but opted for the turbo, even though you can't use so much power with this small of a tire anyway. With having my own business, it's really tough to do everything on my own, so Jason Fields of RJ Performance has been working with us as crewchief."
At the time of this writing there have only been a handful of events in 2004. Calvert has finished runner up twice in Fun Ford Weekend competition and has set a record in ORSCA (a southern Outlaw 10.5 circuit). The ORSCA hosts the largest Outlaw 10.5 races and they compete on eighth-mile tracks. Calvert ran 4.68 at 168 mph to set the record.
"You get to meet a lot of good people, but it's pretty competitive," Calvert said in looking back over the past season. "I just hope the performance level stays where it is because it's going to get dangerous if Street Outlaw gets any faster on small tires like these. I don't want to see anyone get in a bad situation. As for our future, a lot of things change, so I don't know if I'll be driving the car myself forever. My goal is to look at the Pro class or even Pro Stock as a team owner."
With the program that Calvert has put together in such a short period of time, the Bullitt Boys may be there in less time than you may think.