Marc Christ
Brand Manager, Modified Mustangs & Fords
March 24, 2014
Photos By: Kelly Leslie

We Mustang owners get our jollies by beating up on Camaros, Firebirds, and the occasional Challenger.

We hardly even notice the imports getting ever so smaller in our rearview mirrors. But when we're challenged by the performance and street prowess of (newer) Corvettes and Vipers, things may not be as certain. And on the track, forget about it. Right? Well, not for Brian Faessler.

Brian and his dad, Paul Faessler, are Mustang junkies and hard-core road racers. Paul has owned and operated Paul's Automotive Engineering (PAE) since 1983. He spent years doing high-end restorations on classis Stangs, including 100-point concours Shelby restorations, and built (and raced) open track Steeds on the side. Paul races his '65 Mustang coupe in NASA's (National Auto Sport Association) AIX class, and even won a national championship with son Brian as crew chief.

Then, when Brian was 17 years old, he decided to follow in his dad's footsteps and give road racing a try. "I had only been driving on the street for a year, so there was a steep learning curve," said Brian. But he caught on very quickly, completing the whole schedule of driving schools offered by Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course in no time. In late 2009, he got his hands on a body-in-white '10 Mustang with the promise to have a race car built in three short months for the PRI Show in Orlando. The PAE crew (including Brian) thrashed, and the BIW ended up in the Ford Racing booth at the show.

The next spring, the Faesslers got their hands on one of the first Coyote crate engines from FRPP, and Brian's S197 was used to validate the Controls Pack for the venerable crate engine. That same year, 18-year-old Brian got his feet wet in NASA's American Iron (AI) series, and even won his first race. "My first win was at Mid-Ohio against the defending champions in both the Great Lakes and Midwest regions," said Brian. "Just to be able to race alongside those guys was exciting."

The 2011 season would turn out to be even more thrilling, when Brian took home the Great Lakes regional championship in AI. He followed that with a regional championship in American Iron Extreme (AIX) in 2012. After three years of racing and improving, the Faesslers decided that it was time for a serious upgrade—a turbocharger.

In the off-season between the 2012 and 2013 race seasons, the Faesslers designed a mid-mount turbocharger, much like the system that Paul installed on his '65. Designed around a Precision Turbo PT7275 72/75mm turbo, the combination produces 575 rwhp at 4.25 pounds of boost. And since the class that Brian was to run in 2013, STR1, is a power-to-weight-regulated class, they kept the power output low. Trick Flow Specialties put its porting job on the Coyote's heads, and Paul filled the block with fortified components, including Wiseco pistons.

Suspension, front and rear, has been completely re-vamped by PAE. Paul's very own K-member, A-arms, and even custom-made spindles reside in the front. In the rear is a special cambered, floating, 8.8-inch housing; three-link suspension with a special lower arm; and a PAE Watt's link. All of these were designed and manufactured in-house at PAE.

In the wheel-and-tire department, 18x12 Forgeline wheels sit at all four corners. (Yes, it has 12-inch wheels in the front.) Hoosier A6 tires provide Brian the traction he needs, and they measure 335mm in the front and 345mm in the rear. To house such large wheels and tires, PAE designed custom body work, widening the S197 about 5 inches and providing the necessary downforce to keep Brian safely on track. The team received help from Good Aero and Rob Fields, a University of Cincinnati engineering student. They finished it off with '14 Mustang bodywork and Ford Racing-themed EcoBoost wrap.

Also providing a step away from a stock Stang is the 49-percent-front weight distribution. "Moving the weight to the back is one of the main things that sticks out," says Brian. He's referring to not only the turbo being mounted in the rear, but also the driver's seat being moved back to the rear-seat hump. On top of that, Paul's K-member moved the built Coyote back 2 inches and down 3 inches.

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Back on track in 2013, Brian was up against a whole new group of cars and drivers. This time, instead of facing other Mustangs and Camaros, he was up against race-prepped Corvettes and Vipers—nothing to sneeze at, for sure. But Brian kept his head about him, adjusting quickly to the two-fold increase in power. He came on strong in the second half of the season, winning four of the last six races in his region, setting four poles and two track records.

Not only did he take home two championships (SRT1 and TTU) his first season, but he was also awarded with the honors of Driver of the Year in the Great Lakes region, chosen by the officials. Brian is obviously not your regular novice weekend warrior, so we're rooting for him to get a seat on a professional racing team, which he deserves. His humble persona, exemplary sportsmanship, and skilled driving are exactly what team owners are looking for. He's even working on a business degree at the University of Cincinnati.

As for PAE, well, it's shifted its business away from restos and into late-model performance and all-out road race builds. In fact, it's working on three BIW builds like Brian's as you read this. You may even be able to buy a K-member, A-arms, turbo kit, or Watt's link like Brian's for your Steed very soon.