Muscle Mustangs & Fast FordsFeatured Vehicles
2003 Ford Mustang Cobra is World's Quickest Terminator
After more than a decade of development, VooDoo Racing Innovations enters the big leagues by winning the NMRA World Finals with two heads-up victories
For some people, their greatness can be traced back to a single decision, a fleeting moment or an encounter with a lone individual who helped change the course of their lives.
For Frank Yee, the decision to hock everything and buy his dream car over a decade ago would unknowingly change the course of his life.
It was easy to assume that Yee would take the most common ownership path with his Mustang by burning rubber, adding mods, and quickly parting ways for the next best thing, but his Terminator quickly became more than just a car; it became the inspiration for his life’s work.
“I knew this car was special,” says Yee, “but I couldn’t have guessed just how influential it would be on my life’s decisions and how many great memories I’d have with it—it’s been a part of every big decision I’ve made since the day I got it.”
Many will never understand the bond between man (or woman) and machine. It’s more than just the hours spent wrenching or the tens of thousands of dollars invested; it’s the memories you have with that car that make it more than just metal. Maybe buying that very car was fulfilling a dream. Or possibly it’s because you met your significant other in it. Then again, maybe it’s because you built it with someone special. Whatever the reason, owning that car changed your life for the better.
Yee says, “I’ve been through so much with this car that it’s hard to recall every event, but it’s been a driving force that has evolved with me, and was the inspiration for the creation of VooDoo Racing Innovations.”
He might admit it has changed his life, but for fear of sounding boastful, he is less apt to share the milestone his Terminator can lay claim to.
“Back in May of 2008 I was the first Terminator to break into the 9s with a stock blower, running 9.83 at 137 mph with a ported stock blower, ported heads, cams, solid-rear axle, and 4R70W, and at full weight,” Yee explains.
Before his Terminator slipped into the single digits, Yee regularly grudge-raced it both on the mean streets of Las Vegas and legally at the race track. He’s rather modest about the road he has travelled with his Cobra, but during our interview we counted no less than 11 different combinations and a story as colorful as the intricate paint before you.
Ready for this? Yee has also tried the IRS, a solid-axle swap, the T56, a 4R70W, and a Powerglide. The car started in the 12s, dipped into the 10s, has steadily fallen into the 8s and now has enough trap speed for the 7s with more setup. At the moment its best pass was the 8.1 at 175 mph that he ran at the 2014 NMRA World Finals, where he reigned supreme.
With so many different combinations, it’s no wonder the car is said to have several thousand passes under its belt.
Yee says, “I don’t know exactly how many passes I’ve made in it, and I don’t race on the street anymore, but between the track and the street I easily have over 2,000 passes. In fact, the center console and glovebox are overflowing with timeslips.”
To understand what has made Yee an NMRA World Champ and the owner of the worlds baddest Terminator in 2014, we have to step back over a decade.
“I was raised in a strict household and was expected to excel at school, go to college, and pursue a career my parents thought was respectable. But I got into modifying cars, and that changed everything,” Yee explains.
A gearhead at heart, Yee applied his vocational skills learned in class to his turbo Volvo. He always had a knack for going fast and, as such, turned his Swedish led-sled into a respectable 12-second sleeper. His love for cars was so strong that he decided his parents’ plan was anything but correct, so he started down the road to his own definition of self-fulfillment. This of course caused friction, and Yee was booted from the nest at the ripe age of 18. Lost but determined, he wrenched on the side and was trying to find his way in the world.
“I was bussing tables, working on cars and really didn’t know what I was going to do. The only thing I knew was the day I saw artistic renderings of the Terminator Cobras in high school, I knew I had to have one,” Yee explains.
Call it a twist of fate, but in 2004 a local Ford dealer had a new, leftover 2003 Terminator sitting on the lot. It only took sliding behind the wheel of the parked car for Yee to realize he couldn’t leave without the midnight Mustang.
Yee says, “The moment I slid behind the wheel, I knew she was the one, so I put everything on the line and bought it.”
He gambled everything he had, but the first time he hit WOT, nothing else mattered.
“I drove it everywhere and raced it almost nightly between the dragstrip and the street. As time passed, I became a better driver and the car continued to get faster as I gained experience and added better parts,” Yee explains.
Yee quickly developed a reputation in Sin City for bringing his A-game and killing faster cars in heads-up drag racing. With every pass he gained more knowledge, and soon people from all over the area were coming to him for advice and side work. Eventually the demand grew so intense that in 2006 he started VooDoo Racing Innovations out of some rented shop space. As demand swelled, so did his appetite for more real estate. After three moves he eventually landed in his current 5,000 square-foot facility, where he now builds some of the baddest street/strip cars in Nevada.
“Once I really started to see what made the Modular Ford motors tick, I started applying my Import and Euro knowledge from years prior to the Cobra to see how it responded,” says Yee. As it turns out, his unorthodox strategies worked well.
“Like the high-boost, small-displacement four cylinder import motors, I experimented a lot with high compression, unusually large cams for forced induction and unconventional cam timing.”
He wouldn’t divulge all his tricks, but let’s just say that he spins his Terminator over 8,000 rpm. The combination of big boost, high compression, and big lobe cam specs leads to an aggressive top-end charge.
In its current state, the car has run the aforementioned low 8-second e.t. and makes over 1,300 hp at the wheels thanks to a healthy motor combo built in house. The foundation starts with a Teksid block filled with JE pistons, Manley rods, and an Eagle crank that’s supported by a VRI girdle. Up top you’ll find ported heads that utilize Ferrea valves and Manley valve springs along with VRI custom cams, a Sullivan intake manifold, and fuel rails. An HPP upper intake plenum and an Accufab throttle-body round out the induction duties. The motor was built to handle high rpm and big boost, and the VRI-speced, VWR-built turbo system with the Turbos Direct Garrett GTX 94mm snail sure brings the beans.
All that boost would be useless without copious amounts of fuel, so VRI created a custom fuel system that utilizes Fuel Injector Connection–supplied Moran 235-lb/hr injectors, a Weldon 2345 pump, XRP lines and fittings, Aeromotive filters, and a JMS PowerMax. A Kenne Bell Boost-A-Spark brings the fire, while a ProEFI standalone computer tuned by VRI orchestrates the entire symphony of speed.
Power is transferred into a VRI-built Powerglide transmission with a PTC torque converter and Performance Automatic flexplate that then feeds the twist into a PST carbon-fiber driveshaft. Inside the built 8.8 solid axle you’ll find Ford Racing 3.27 gears, a matching carrier, and Strange axles. One can’t forget the Mickey Thompson tires on all corners that wrap Weld front and Exospeed rear rims with beadlocks.
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Now that the car is trapping over 170 mph in the quarter-mile, quality suspension components are imperative. That’s why VRI uses a QA1 K-member and front suspension components along with AFCO rear bits and an MMR ARB.
Yee continues to march to his own beat inside the car . . . literally. He says, “Mike Dunn made the cage and I left the Zeus Hiphonics amp, Pioneer in-dash DVD head unit, and speakers since it’s still a full-weight street car that weights around 3,600 pounds and I saw no use to ditch the stereo.”
Yep, music comes from under the hood and inside the cabin. How’s that for unique? The beautiful paint and airbrush work came courtesy of Las Vegas Devious Designs after a heart-stopping mishap with a wall at speed.
“In all the years and passes, I’d never had a problem, but when the intercooler tank leaked water onto the rear tires, it sent me into the wall. In that moment, before I could assess the damage, time stopped and my heart sank. I thought it was all over,” Yee says.
But as Yee emerged from the car trying to hold back his devastation, a sense of determination fell over him. “There was no way I was going to abandon the car after all we’d been through, no matter what it took I was going to rebuild it.”
Thankfully a rear quarter-panel was the fix along with a new coat of paint and the intricate airbrushing before you. Shortly after the new paint dried, Yee and his VRI crew of Elton Burnley, Alex Masci, Suresh Shrestha, Paul Garcia, and Husic Hamo packed up and headed east to the 2014 NMRA World Finals in Bowling Green, Kentucky, to battle with the best in the country. As mentioned, the small crew out of Las Vegas emerged victorious after extreme consistency and big backend speed. If you asked someone from the outside why they did so well, they’d likely tell you that team VRI had a good weekend—but they’d be dead wrong. This ship built on hard work and determination set sail over a decade ago, and after many wins on the local scene the team finally landed on a national stage and proved capable of running with the best in the industry. That kind of dedication doesn’t come from simply having a good weekend.
“Buying this car completely changed my life,” says Yee. “Even my high-school sweetheart turned wife has been along for the entire ride and is now more of a gearhead than 90 percent of car people I meet, all because of the Cobra. We even named two of our kids after John Coletti, Steve Saleen, and other legendary industry names.”
At the age of 18, Frank Yee’s life took a drastic turn. Horsepower was his salvation, and it took form as a 2003 Cobra. One might say it helped save his life, but we’d like to think it helped change it. If ever the bond between man and machine were in question, one just needs to hear this tale to realize that in this case, oil is as thick as blood.