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The Briantes' Pro 5.0 Mustang Race Car
One Of The Quickest Outlaw Racers In The Country-and He Built It Himself!
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It was an offer they couldn't refuse.
The Briante mob from New York have been among the top kingpins of the Pro 5.0 and Outlaw scene for nearly as long as we can remember. These elf-appointed dons of the dragstrip have traditionally come well armed with their familiar blue Fox packing 400 inches of Windsor and a healthy shot of nitrous for a formidable threat.
They were the giggle-gas gangsters.
But that was then. This is now. Despite running as quickly as 7.92 seconds, and with 60-foot times often in the 1.15, 1.16 range, the writing was on the wall for the old Fox car: With all the new gangs out there in Pro 5.0 land competing for turf, and in view of the looming 25.1C requirements, it was clearly time for the Briantes to upgrade the family arsenal.
So when the offer of an affordable, flood-recovery New-Edge Mustang proved too good to refuse, the gang from Thornwood, New York, got to work during the frosty Northeastern winter. Jim Briante, who had driven the old car to considerable success throughout the past decade, explains the rationale behind the new car. "Really, our old car--although it was a fantastic-working car--really didn't benefit from the best-of-breed technology that is available in the marketplace. It was still a square-tube chassis with a ladder-bar suspension, and in putting together a new effort we tried to utilize the best equipment that was available. We believed there were gains to be made not only from a safety standpoint, but from a performance standpoint. And certainly as a business, it doesn't hurt to keep our faces in the magazines..."
The business, of course, is Briante Motorsports, a thriving engine-building service and race-car prep shop located about a half hour north of Manhattan. With extensive experience in Mustang performance the Briantes decided to build the new car in-house--a huge undertaking for an already busy shop, and one that consumed about three-and-a-half months worth of after-hours time. Jim's brother, Anthony, crafted up the all-chrome-moly 25.1C-spec chassis from material and schematics supplied by Billy Carol at Chassis Engineering, merging it with the Mustang unibody for a to-the-letter-legal Pro 5.0 challenger.
In the past, the Briantes have occasionally been vocal about what they perceived as liberties taken by some competitors when it comes to the spirit, if not the letter, of the rule book as it pertains to firewall-forward construction. "From the firewall back, the car is basically a Pro Stocker," Jim explains, "and from the firewall forward to the front of the car, you can pull a 2000 Mustang up right next to it and bolt in any suspension component out of it. It's a direct replacement as far as the frontend of the car goes, which is basically what the rules say."
A lot of HAL components found their way onto the chassis, including the K-member, control arms, and lightweight struts up front, along with single-adjustable rear shocks. The best results to date have come with the Bogart Force 5 rims wrapped in 16x33 M/T slicks.
Given the Pro Stock rear architecture of the chassis, the Strange Engineering rear axlehousing is located by a four-link and fine-tuned by Briante Motorsports' own sway bars--all of which is certainly a departure from the Fox car's ladder-bar setup.
Another departure from past Briante practices is the substitution of a Novi 3000 supercharger, with a Spearco intercooler, in place of the laughing gas that added power to the old Fox car.
"Basically, we've got full-time jobs here building equipment for everyone else," Jim explains concerning the switch from nitrous. "Maintaining the [old race car's] nitrous combination was a tremendous effort. When you try to run with the big dogs in this sport on a weekly basis, a nitrous motor has to come apart after each race, regardless of whether anything's hurt or not. With the time frame we have available to devote to our racing program, it was just taking up too much of our personal lives. By the end of last summer we were beat up pretty good. Basically, we believed the supercharged combination would allow us to run the same performance numbers as the best nitrous cars in the country, and we wouldn't have the high maintenance level that the nitrous motors have."
The Briantes remained faithful, however, to the same 4.125-bore by 3.75-stroke combination used in the former car, producing 400 rev-happy cubic inches. (So far, Jim has been shifting the Dynamic Transmission Pro 2 Powerglide at about 9,000 rpm.) Credit for the engine build goes, once again, to Anthony Briante, who based it on an FRPP M-6010-V351 siamese-bored block with a 9.2-inch deck. As with most race-oriented Windsor blocks, the wet-sump-design V351 uses a 2.749-inch Cleveland main-journal diameter. Its belly is filled with a Scat crank, GRP aluminum rods, and JE pistons of undisclosed compression.
Wearing Jesel valvetrain components and Victory titanium valves, also of unspecified size, the cylinder heads are the latest high-port M-6049-SCI Yates castings designed to accommodate down-nozzle injectors--in this case, 160 lb/hr squirters. Injection control is by Speed-Pro with needed air ingested through an Accufab 90mm throttle body secured to an elbow high above the NASCAR-style FRPP single-plane intake. This lofty perch necessitates the car's 7-inch cowl hood from Joe Van Overbeek. Blower tubes and injector rails were fabri-cated in-house.
You'll notice we haven't mentioned the cam here; not only were the Briantes tight-lipped about cam specs, but also they wouldn't even snitch on who the manufacturer was. Ah, racers...
The switch from carbs to injection has meant coming to terms with tuning the Speed-Pro, with help from Wayne Young at Young's Performance in the form of baseline fuel mapping and occasional advice. "Right now," Jim says, "we're set up with hardly any timing in the car, and we're set up rich so when we do get out there and establish an e.t. benchmark to work from, I feel like there's a tenth left in the map." A lack of time has meant the engine has yet to hit the dyno.
Victims of their own business success at the shop, as of this writing, the Briantes haven';t even had the time necessary for proper testing and tuning. Appearances at WFC and the NMRA's Michigan event have yet to demonstrate competitive times with full passes--not entirely unexpected with totally new chassis and engine combinations. Don't expect that situation to last long. By the end of the season we can likely expect to see the Briante hit men assume their usual role of gunning down their fair share of competitors.