Justin Fivella
June 10, 2014
Photos By: Joshua Coleman

As the sun set on the high desert, the underlying energy slowly intensified as the last ounces of daylight faded into the night sky. Nearly 30 miles from the nearest town, the road rolls through an arbitrarily placed half-finished industrial complex—the remains of an ill-fated oasis that died on the vine. For most it’s now an intersecting grid to nowhere, but to a select group of gearheads, this road leads to destiny. It’s a place where everything is won or lost in an instant—this is known in the underground world of street racing as, “the track.”

The desolate stretch of pavement, void of life only moments before, was then lined with a handful of trailers carrying race cars. A dozen people were moving about, walking the starting line and inspecting their vehicles. Few words were exchanged, aside from the sound of spinning wrenches and checking air pressure, it was silent—nobody was there to make friends. Tonight was to be pivotal, as there was a challenge for the top spot from an unknown contender. The tension heightened with every passing minute—one had everything to lose, one had everything to prove.

The moon began its ascent into the night sky, and the temperatures began their descent into the 50s, typical for the mile-high desert of Albuquerque, New Mexico, and perfect for making horsepower. The layers of molten rubber adhered to the pavement glimmered under the glow of the moon, and the big desert sky cast an unsettling backdrop indicative of the lawless acts that would soon follow.

While the rest of the population is fast asleep, there’s an underground world of racers who take to the streets and risk life, limb, and jail time in the name of respect, because out here what matters most is being crowned, “The fastest street car.”

The Duo

It’s the classic tale of David versus Goliath, the super star versus the up-and-coming. In one corner sits the defending champ, the blue ’67 Fastback, eager to keep his title. And in the other corner sits the new guy, the ’69 Mach 1, hungry for the top spot.

Some might recognize the blue Fastback sporting Shelby attire from the many Internet videos it’s started in. To be honest, that’s how we found the owner, Brain Henry and his flawless Fastback. His shiny Mustang is infamous for taking down modified GTRs, turbocharged LSX-powered cars, and any other fast car that gets in his way. It’s the baddest street car in the area, and the faster the competition gets, the more he turns it up.

But it’s the quiet ones who avoid the limelight that you have to look out for, and Ernest Plasencia’s murdered-out ’69 Mach 1 is a force to be reckoned with. Its high-compression big-block sounds like gunshots each revolution and the sweet aroma of race gas billowing from its open headers makes its intentions clear: to kick ass and take names.

Tonight was months in the making, as Plasencia laid back and watch Henry’s every move and every race. He wasn’t a spectator at all the big races for fun, this was calculated and he wasn’t going to be caught slipping.

They’re both classic Mustangs powered by big-inch Fords sucking down massive quantities of nitrous, but the similarities stop there. Let’s have a look at these two contenders now, shall we?

1967 Ford Mustang Fastback G.T. 500 Tribute

Purpose built doesn’t even begin to explain Brian Henry’s wicked fastback. Don’t let the slammed stance and flawless finish fool you, everything has a purpose; if it doesn’t have a function, then it didn’t make the cut.

“After selling my first ’67 Fastback I had several fast Fox-bodies, but I always missed my Fastback and was tired of emissions, so when I got this one, I decided I wasn’t holding back, I wanted to build the fastest street car in the area,” Henry explained.

His other requirements: no forced induction, and it had to be powered by a pushrod Ford.

“I did my homework before building this motor; I basically designed the entire combo around the limits of E85 fuel, even down to the compression, the cam, the size of the nitrous jets, and all,” Henry explained.

At the heart of this no-holds-barred badass is an aluminum 351W-based Dart block that’s stroked and poked to 440 cubic inches. Inside you’ll find a Callies forged crank and I-beam rods underneath Ross pistons and home-ported Trick Flow Specialties R heads that create a lofty 12.3:1 compression ratio. In true street racing form, we have a feeling the term “home ported,” is quite the understatement. Nonetheless, other underhood goodies include a massive solid-roller cam that specs out at 280/296-degrees duration at 0.050-inch lift, 0.727/0.720- inch lift on a 114-degree LSA along with Harland Sharp rockers. The rest of the induction duties are handled by a ported Edelbrock Super Victor intake manifold and a FAST 4150-style 1,275-cfm throttle body that’s controlled by a BigStuff3 standalone fuel-injection system.

“E85 and nitrous works well with roughly 12.0:1 compression so that’s what I stuck with, I also fabricated some 2-inch to 21⁄8-inch stepped long-tube headers and a dual 4-inch exhaust system to let it breathe,” Henry explained. “The BigStuff3 makes tuning a breeze and driveability on the street is unparalleled to a carb,” he added.

And breathe it does, as the Fastback cleanly spins to 7,500 rpm with ease even at the oxygen-depleted elevations of 5,000 feet in Albuquerque. For those that like to compare correction factors, it’s nearly a second up there! Although Henry has been spraying a much bigger shot on the street, on the dyno with a 175-shot the car has made a corrected 742 hp and 618 lb-ft of torque. On motor, it’s made 550 hp and 457 lb-ft.

About that nitrous. Henry said he uses the BigStuff3 for the fuel enrichment with the N20 system that consists of an Induction Solutions dry system with a two-stage cross plate that’s good for a 400-shot when it’s all in. Again, Henry’s explanation seemed a bit sparse when we asked about the nitrous, but despite more prodding, he wouldn’t budge. Something tells us he’s got a street racer trick up his sleeve, but he stonewalled us.

All that nitrous runs alongside plenty of E85 that travels from the 22-gallon ’69 Mustang fuel tank by way of an Aeromotive Eliminator pump and return regulator before hitting the massive 160-pound injectors.

All that fuel, air, and spark isn’t much without a solid transmission, so Henry decided to jump straight to a big-boy unit.

“I decided to run an ATI Powerglide with a 1.87 first, trans brakes, and an ATI 4,000-stall so that the car would hook up on the street, a C4 or C6 has such a deep first that it would just blow the tires off,” Henry explained.

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Henry has gone to great lengths to get this Pony to hook. The front suspension consists of Heidts weld-in front suspension with coilovers and rack-and-pinion steering, while the rear utilizes stock-style leaf springs with Calvert tractions bars. Out back you’ll also find a Ford 9-inch rearend filled with a 35-spline spool spinning 3.89 gears. There’s plenty of Mickey Thompson rubber underneath the ’wells and larger Wilwood brakes are hidden beneath Billet Specialties front and Weld rear wheels.

If the stance and the big’n’littles don’t do it for you, then certainly the BMW 381 blue paint that was thrown down in a friend’s garage will.

“We painted it a Bimmer blue, painted on the stripes, and added Tony D. Branda fiberglass G.T. 500-style nose, hood, trunk, sidescoops, and taillight panel,” Henry explained. “Despite the ’cage, full interior, and all of the other street car amenities, the aluminum motor and fiberglass front end helped it weigh in at 3,200 pounds with me in it,” he explained.

You might have also noticed the ’69 Shelby headlights and grille lights on the outside, or the 10-point rollcage on the inside, which coincidentally was homebuilt and ties into the home-crafted subframe connectors—Henry is a real racer and as resourceful as they come.

The Details
Vehicle: Brian Henry’s ’67 Mustang G.T. 500 clone
Owner: Brian Henry
Engine
Ford small-block 351, Dart aluminum block, 440ci
4.120-inch bore
4.125-inch stroke
Trick Flow R heads aluminum cylinder heads, home ported, 2.080 intake valves, 1.600 exhaust
Harland Sharp rockers, 1.6 ratio
Callies I-beam rods
Ross forged pistons
HellFire file-fit rings
12.3:1 compression ratio
Callies stroker crankshaft
Melling high-volume oil pump
Milodon 7-quart oil pan
Solid-roller cam, 280/296-degrees duration at 0.050-inch lift, 0.727/0.720-inch lift, 114 LSA
Edelbrock Super Victor aluminum intake, home ported
4150 FAST throttle body 1,275 cfm
BigStuff3 standalone fuel injection system
MSD Digital 7 ignition, coil, and crank trigger
Meziere electric water pump
Griffin 3-inch aluminum radiator
Flex-a-lite electric fan
Power Masters 140-amp alternator
McClintic vacuum pump
Aeromotive Eliminator pump and regulator and return fuel system
160-lb/hr injectors
’69 Mustang 22-gallon tank
Power Adder
Induction Solutions Dry Nitrous System with two-stage cross plate and fuel enrichment handled by BigStuff3
Transmission
ATI PowerGlide with 1.87 First gear and trans-brake, and 4,000-rpm stall
Mark Williams custom aluminum driveshaft
Rearend
Ford 9-inch housing
3.89:1 Motive gears
35-spline axles
Spool differential
Exhaust
Homemade stepped long-tube headers, 2 to 21⁄8-inch primary, 4-inch collectors
4-inch tubing
Dynomax 4-inch Bullet mufflers and Dynatech Split-Flow mufflers
Suspension
Front: Heidts weld-in front suspension with coilovers and rack-and-pinion steering rack
Rear: Calvert traction bars with Ford mono-leaves, Rancho adjustable 9000 shocks
Brakes
Wilwood discs front and rear
Wilwood master cylinder
Wheels
Front: Billet Specialties, 15X3.5
Rear: Weld Pro Magnum 2.0, 15X10
Tires
Front: Mickey Thompson ET, 26x4.50-15
Rear: Mickey Thompson MT Pro Drag Radial, P275/60R15
Interior
Custom homebuilt 10-point rollcage and subframe connectors; stock rear seats, bucket fronts; Auto Meter tachometer, shift light, oil pressure, voltage, fuel pressure, and battery voltage gauges
Exterior
BMW 381 Blue paint and bodywork done at home; painted stripes; ’69 Shelby headlights and grille lights; Tony D. Branda G.T. 500 style fiberglass nose piece, hood, trunk, sidescoops, and taillight panel
Thanks
Chris Grooves at The Dyno Edge, Roy Shank and everyone at Automotive Machine
Family Allison, Autumn, and Justin

1969 Ford Mustang Mach 1

Ernest Plasencia’s ’69 Mach 1 might not be as flashy as the fastback, but he didn’t want it that way, he wanted it all business.

“When I bought the car it was painted lime green and had a 393-cubic inch Cleveland with a Top Loader that ran high 11s after I’d dialed it in, but as fate would have it, I smoked the motor at the track one night,” Plasencia said.

Fate gave him both a blessing and a curse that night, as the tow truck driver that towed him home after the blown Cleveland sold Plasencia the big block from his LTD that now resides between the rails of his Mach 1.

Plasencia has a background rich in building fast street cars so he applied that knowledge with his big-block Ford build. After careful consideration he decided on a 552ci combination that utilizes a Scat forged stroker crank, Probe SCJ flat-top pistons, and Eagle H-beam rods that sit below Kaase P-51 heads for a lofty 13.0:1 compression ratio that eats up the nitrous. The Kaase EMC-spec solid roller cam from Comp is also gargantuan spec’ing out at 272/280-degrees duration at 0.050-inch lift, 0.760/0.756-inch lift, and a 109-degree LSA.

Induction duties are handled by a massive Holley 4500 1,250-cfm carburetor perched atop an Edelbrock Victor Jr. intake manifold while a mixture of MSD and Mallory ignition components light the fire.

An Aeromotive A1000 pump and regulator with -10AN and -8AN lines utilizing the stock tank feed the beast while Kreits longtube headers with 2-inch primaries and 3.5-inch collectors let it breathe.

“The motor spins to 6,500 rpm but literally runs out of air up here at 5,000 feet because there’s just not enough oxygen in the air,” Plasencia explained.

Thankfully he’s got a custom nitrous setup consisting of NOS Cheater Big Shot solenoids, a Nytrex plate system, and a 10-pound bottle to make up for the lack of oxygen at a mile in the sky.

It took plenty of fabrication to get this big-block-powered Mustang to launch without tearing itself apart. Apparently when you have this much torque from such a big motor you must make some modifications.

“I notched the shock towers for more clearance and reinforced them with plate steel, I also fabricated braces from the shock towers to the firewall and also utilize a Monte Carlo bar that ties the two fenders together—the combination did wonders for tightening things up,” Plasencia explained.

But that’s not all he did to the suspension in the name of traction, he also added roller breaking upper front control arms, Moroso drag springs, and Lakewood 90/10 shocks up front; while Calvert Caltracs with split mono-leaves and Rancho RS9000 adjustable shocks handle the suspension duties out back.

Continuing with the topic of traction, the Mach 1 utilizes a Ford 9-inch rearend fortified with 4.30 gears, 31-spline Moser axles, a spool, and a Yukon Gear heavy-duty third member.

The last piece that helps turn all that big-block twist into forward motion is an ATI Competition C6 transmission with a manual reverse valve-body, an Ultimate Converter Concepts 10-inch 5,000-stall, and a Hurst Pistol Grip shifter.

“I’ve built a lot of small-blocks, but there’s something raw about a big block, they just never give up, they just keep pulling harder and harder as you upshift,” Plasencia said. “To this day I still get out of the car after a pass and I’m shaking, and when a car is scaring you, that’s how you want it,” he added.

We could also highlight the tidy exterior or the untouched interior that’s accentuated by the homebuilt cage that’s also tied into the custom subframe connectors like the Fastback. We could also talk about how this Mach 1 is a survivor, wearing all of its stock body panels save for the lift off fiberglass hood or how the motor is making more than 800 hp on the unit and it’s only moving 3,100 pounds; literally, we could go on for days. Although at first it might not seem as tidy as the Fastback it faces, a closer look reveals this Mach 1 is equally awesome and reaches perfection by way of another route, and if you doubt its caliber, it’s got 565 cubic inches of BBF under the hood to prove you a liar.

The Details
Vehicle: Ernest Plasencia’s ’69 Mustang Mach 1
Owner: Ernest Plasencia
Engine
Ford big-block 460, 552ci
4.420-inch bore
4.5-inch stroke
Kaase P-51 aluminum cylinder heads, 2.25 intake valves, 1.76 exhaust
Comp stainless steel rockers, 1.73 ratio
Eagle H-beam rods
Probe SCJ flat top forged pistons
13.0:1 compression ratio
Scat stroker crankshaft
Kaase BBF oil pump
Deep-sump 8-quart oil pan
Kaase-spec EMC Comp solid-roller cam, 272/280-degrees duration at 0.050-inch lift, 0.760/0.756- inch lift, 109 LSA
Edelbrock Victor Jr. aluminum intake
Holley 4500 1,250-cfm carburetor
MSD sparkplug wires
Mallory Unilite distributor and ignition box
Meziere electric waterpump
Griffin 3-inch aluminum radiator
Spal electric fans, two small pullers and one pusher
Mr. Gasket vacuum pump system with -12AN lines
eBay aluminum valvecovers
Aeromotive A1000 pump and regulator
-10AN feed and -8AN return plumbed into factory tank
Exhaust
Kreits long-tube headers, 2-inch primary, 3.5-inch collectors
Power Adder
NOS Cheater Big Shot solenoids, Nytrex plate, 10-pound bottle
Transmission
ATI Competition C6 with manual reverse valve body, Ultimate Converter Concepts 10-inch 5,000-stall
Hurst Pistol Grip quarter-stick shifter
Albuquerque custom steel driveshaft
Rearend
Ford 9-inch braced housing
4.30:1 Motive gears
31-spline Moser axles
Spool differential
Yukon Gear heavy-duty third member
Suspension
Front: Modified, shaved, and reinforced shock towers; roller bearing upper control arms; Moroso drag springs; Calvert 90/10 shocks
Rear: Calvert Caltracs with split-leaf mono-leaves, Rancho adjustable RS9000 shocks
Brakes
Front: Stock discs
Rear: Stock drums
Wheels
Front: Weld Draglites, 15X3.5
Rear: Weld Draglites, 15X10
Tires
Front: Hoosier, 26x4.50-15
Rear: Hoosier slicks, P28x10.50-15
Interior
Custom homebuilt 10-point rollcage and subframe connectors, Auto Meter Sport Comp tachometer and shift light, wooden steering wheel, four-point harnesses
Exterior
Black paint, stripe delete kit, ’03 Mach 1 emblem on the spoiler, UPR lift-off fiberglass hood with Krites Super Stock Boss 429-style 5-inch scoop
Thanks
Wife, Yvette, and kids, Justin, Eric, and Theresa
Budlong Motorsports of Albuquerque, NM, Gary Gonzales and Desperado Rods and Classics

The Race

As fate would have it, the local authorities got wind of the lawless behavior and decided to pay a visit. In the wake of the unfortunate interruption, both contenders have paid a visit to Albuquerque Dragway on separate occasions for further tweaks, but their paths haven’t crossed just yet. Despite a horrible 8,000-foot DA, Henry’s Fastback knocked down an 8.99 at 151 mph on a 300-shot of nitrous with a 1.43 short time.

Plasencia also caught an 8,000-foot DA on his track day and ran a 6.20 in the eighth-mile on a 125-shot, which equates to roughly 9.80s in the quarter. Although that’s just shy of Henry’s blistering 8-second pass, Plasencia let it slip he’ll be upping the shot and going back for more.

Both drivers have also wised up about street racing and decided that when they do finally line up, it will be at the track where the conditions are safe and the only thing they have to worry about hurting is the other driver’s ego. So in this battle for street car supremacy, it’s big-block versus small-block, Fastback versus Mach 1, E85 versus race gas, and nitrous versus nitrous. Who’s your money on?