Rob Kinnan
Brand Manager, Mustang Monthly
November 1, 2000

Step By Step

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P60790_large 1989_Ford_Mustang Front_Driver_SideP60791_large 1989_Ford_Mustang Front_Passenger_SideP60792_large 1989_Ford_Mustang Air_Intake_PipeP60793_large 1989_Ford_Mustang EngineP60794_large 1989_Ford_Mustang Turbo_UnitP60795_large 1989_Ford_Mustang Rear_AxleP60796_large 1989_Ford_Mustang Interior

Rewind to the J&P Performance 5.0 Shootout of 1996. Jon Yates and his team, anchored by Pro 5.0 superstar, Craig Radovich, are on top of the world. Their Mondo-blown, 310-inch Mustang is kicking ass and waltzing through one of the toughest fields of Mustangs ever assembled. After a fist-full of mid-8-second e.t. slips, our guys find themselves in the final against Brian Golick.

The two cars are staged, and the lights come down. Typical of the day, Craig is out first and on a flier. Then, tragedy strikes. During a four-foot bumper stand, one of the "un-breakable" axles in the 9-inch Ford rearend breaks. The Mustang makes a violent, right turn and lands its under carriage on the retaining barrier 60 feet down track.

The forward momentum causes the car to rotate and flip on its roof. Luckily, Craig survived the roof job to race another day; but the crew knew, before it even came to a stop, that their Mustang was history. Life is odd in that it is often created from death. The resurrection of this team's program has revitalized each individual. It began with the search for a new chassis and the conviction to do it all over again, yet better. Radovich's own well-used '89 LX hatch sat engineless, and he felt compelled to donate the dormant beast to the project. While it had a good foundation built into it, the 5.0 Jersey Wars of the early '90s had taken their toll. And besides, the team's goal was the seven-second zone. So, off to Tony's Metal Craft it went where proprietor, Tony Parsons, would work his magic.

Working closely with S&W, Tony began by totally gutting the hatch and beginning from scratch. The cage is all chrome moly and has more points than we could count. In the tubbed rear, hangs an FAB 9-inch rearend with 4.86 gears wrapped around a Moser spool and 35-spline axles. The four-link rear suspension features Koni double-adjustable shocks that work with a custom wishbone locator and a top-secret Tony's Metal Craft anti-roll bar that will soon be marketed by S&W. The front suspension uses a tubular K-member and Hal Corporation's double adjustable coilovers to direct the car.

For power, Jon didn't play games. He called Jonathan Bennett and told him to build the wildest, 302-blocked creation that he could dream up. Price tag? It didn't matter--just make it nasty. On that note, Bennett started with a Ford Motorsport aluminum block. It's an exotic piece, but what else would you put in this thing? The rotating assembly is made up of a Crankshaft Specialties stroker crank, Oliver steel rods, and Ross pistons to produce 353 ci of thumping Ford. Other goodies of interest in the bottom end include Childs & Albert bearings and ARP fasteners.

The heads and valvetrain resemble something from a NASCAR garage. The Yates (that's Robert Yates, not Jon) castings have been treated to every trick in the book and flow way over 400 cfm on the intake and 300 cfm on the exhaust. This is accomplished with a 2.125-inch intake and 1.60 exhaust valves snapped into place by a triple spring set from Comp Cams. The solid roller camshaft is a custom-cut Bennett piece that is put into motion by a Danny Bee belt drive.

The induction system is something unique to the world of Pro 5.0 heads-up racing. Suspecting that there may be a supercharger limitation (hey, these guys are making something like 1700 hp), Jon chose to go with the biggest turbocharger that Turbonetics ever built. As Jon puts it, "It's sick. The turbo uses waste [exhaust] to make power. It's the ultimate, if you can control it." Flowing in excess of 2500 cfm, the big hairdryer has proven itself capable of going 8.00s with only 20 psi. The intercooler is a closed, air-to-water exchanger. It holds five gallons of water which is freshened between rounds with quick-release hose fasteners. The intake is a modified Hogan sheetmetal item that not only flows copious amounts of air, but houses 160-lb-per-hour injectors. Yes, that's almost 10 times the flow rate of the injector that came stock on this 5.0 Mustang.

To control the injectors, Jon installed a Fel-Pro SEFI8LO system. The base maps were set up by John Meany, but the fine tuning has been handled by Craig Radovich and by Dale Cherry, of Buick GN fame.

Location of the turbo and the general layout of the system is always a concern with such a custom setup, but Jon found a way to not only make it fit, but make it look right. Kook's did the incredible custom headers that place the turbo in the front of the engine compartment with the intake going straight into the throttlebody. The exhaust is handled by an ingenious downpipe from the turbo. It measures 4.5 inches and exits in front of the passenger-side front tire. Oddly, the team has discovered that even this system produces too much backpressure. So it will soon be replaced with a full 5-inch exhaust, with an internally bigger turbo.

One of the trickest pieces on the car, that is just catching on with the Pro 5.0 crowd, is an API "three-speed" Powerglide. It features a lock-up converter for high (or third) gear. Jon credits the Powerglide for the phenomenal top-end charge that this rocket ship possesses.

It is often said that a car is an expression of one's self--a form of art, if you will. And, believe us, about the only thing more flamboyant than this Mustang is the lifestyle that Jon keeps. The pictures do the talking, but it's almost impossible to describe. The body has been enhanced by a complete Cervini Stalker kit that accentuates the already muscular lines of the LX hatchback.

The paint is a combination of custom-mixed hues, of course, from House of Kolor. The whole thing was painted by Darin Hoffman at Marino's Auto Body. Plus, a Tony's Metal Craft aluminum wing sets it all off. Rolling on Weld Aluma Stars all the way around (15x3.5 up front and 15x14 in back), it's psychedelic--to say the least. But, the fun doesn't stop on the outside or under the hood. One look inside reveals detailed perfection fitting a show car: a host of Auto Meter gauges; a Billet Specialties steering wheel with the slogan "This Side Up" on the hub; and a paint-matching tweed interior. It all comes together in a creation that embarrasses most show cars, let alone anything that's actually run down a dragstrip.

The irony of the whole creation is that this is a racecar. Don't shake your head, and think it runs twelves. This thing is bad! And, with a best pass of 8.08/173, you'd think Jon would be content. Not so. You see, that run happened on only the third time off the trailer. It's going to go sevens. It will just take some time for the chassis to get worked out, the program to get refined, and for the track to be right. Helping Jon reach this point has been Rob Richie, Dan Cervini, and the aforementioned.

Rob Kinnan, our main man here at 5.0 Mustang, is a gifted camera man; but, even his talented index finger loses some of the true essence of Jon Yates' Mustang. It is so custom, so detailed, and yet so brutally powerful, that the experience of discovering this car loses something in the two dimensions of a magazine page. You simply must see this thing in person to realize its greatness; it is that special. In the evolution of the 5.0 Mustang, this one breaks new ground.