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Jack Rowden’s 200-mph 2011 Shelby GT500 is a Goal Setter
Jake Rowden had a 200-mph Texas Mile as the goal for his 2011 Shelby GT500.
As performance enthusiasts, we don’t generally buy a Mustang like the general public buys a family sedan. We don’t buy a Mustang to go back and forth to the grocery store. We buy a Mustang to see how quickly we can go back and forth to the grocery store. We buy a Mustang with performance goals in mind. We want to run 9s, we want to run 200-mph, and we want the baddest car in town. The average car buyer doesn’t care about those things, but we do.
Jake Rowden didn’t just want to run 200 mph in his 2011 Shelby GT500. He wanted to run 200 mph in the Texas Mile.
Actually, Jake had two goals. His initial plan was to run 200 mph in the March 2014 Texas Mile using his GT500’s stock short-block. Remember, prior to the world-beating 2013-2014 GT500, Shelbys featured a 5.4L engine, not the larger 5.8L of the later Shelbys. The supercharged 5.4L in the 2011 Shelby was rated at 550 hp, whereas the 5.8L 2013-2014 Shelby came in at 662 hp and was billed as a 200-mph supercar right out of the gate. The big news for the 2011 Shelby was that the engine featured an aluminum block to shave weight off the car’s front end.
Therefore, Jake’s initial goal was rather lofty. The plan was to run the stock bottom end combination with a Kenne Bell 3.6LC supercharger for a shot at 200 mph. Then between the March and October Texas Mile events, Jake planned to have L&M Engines build a 5.8L combination for a run at 220 mph for the October event.
Jake dropped off the Shelby at Kinetic Motorsport on December 9, 2013, for the Kenne Bell 3.6LC and suspension install. Shortly thereafter, he called L&M to get the ball rolling on the 5.8L build. L&M’s said they could have the 5.8L ready by the March event.
“I definitely wasn’t expecting that to be possible,” says Jake. He talked to Mitch and Josh at Kinetic about having the car ready for 220 mph by March. Their response was prophetic: “It will be tight, but we can do it.”
The insanity started January 2, 2014. The engine, transmission, clutch, driveshaft, and rearend were ordered. Kinetic installed its Texas Mile cooling system, consisting of a 12-gallon trunk tank with a 55-gpm pump to keep inlet air temps low. High inlet air temps are the death of Shelby GT500s, and the problem is exacerbated by the length of the Texas Mile.
“The shop was starting to look like a hobo village with all the empty parts boxes lying around, but week by week it started to resemble a car again,” Jake says.
Bad thing was they still didn’t have the engine, and the Texas Mile was two weeks away. “To further complicate matters, we couldn’t get the larger Kenne Bell 4.2LC supercharger in time,” Jake says. They weren’t going to be able to have a new one on the engine by the Texas Mile. Jake thought fate was working against him in his quest to make the event, but another Kinetic customer happened to have a 4.2LC being rebuilt at Kenne Bell. The customer couldn’t make the Texas Mile, so a call was made to Kenne Bell to check the status of the rebuild. The supercharger was apart, and Kenne Bell had the parts on hand to complete the rebuild.
Jake says, “I told them we needed it yesterday, and to my amazement they rebuilt and shipped it overnight from California.”
With one hurdle overcome, another hurdle presented itself. A snowstorm hit L&M’s neck of the woods in Pennsylvania. The shop was without power. Though we’re sure L&M can build an engine eyes closed, Jake would certainly feel better if they built it with fully operational lights in the building. A week and a half before the Texas Mile, L&M had lights. They told Jake they were finishing up the engine and it would be ready in time.
On Friday, March 14, the engine left L&M on its way to Kinetic in Houston. The engine was slated for delivery Monday at 9 a.m., and Jake tracked it like a man possessed. “I had the 14-digit tracking number memorized in only a few hours,” Jake says.
After a gut-wrenching weekend, the heart of the beast arrived Monday morning as promised. Josh and Mitch sprung to work swapping pulleys, the front cover, accessories, and the like from his Shelby’s existing 5.4L onto the new 5.8L beast.
“The guys were at the shop until 2 a.m. Tuesday,” Jake tells us. After just a power nap, the guys were back at it Tuesday morning. At 9:08 p.m. Tuesday, Mitch turned the key, and the Shelby roared to life.
“She started right up and was so loud, dust was falling from the ceiling,” says Jake. Kinetic’s roof tiles rattled, and the cams were so lopey that the car rocked back and forth on the lift. “It was a thing of beauty,” Jakes adds.
With the hard part done, the guys went home to get some sleep. The next day, with break-in oil still in the new engine, they headed to the dyno for tuning. With Lund Racing’s Jon Lund II remote tuning, the combo made 1,178 hp and 1,009 lb-ft of torque.
“Against all odds, the car was ready for the mile,” Jake says.
On Friday and Saturday of the Texas Mile, Jake had to make qualifying and licensing passes before being given the green light to make a full pass. “Despite a strong headwind, and spinning the tires at 180 mph, we crossed the mile marker at 209 mph.”
He didn’t hit his goal, but with the headwind and traction issues, Jake knew he was headed in the right direction.
Back to the drawing board in preparation for the October event. Jake and Kinetic decided to make a few changes for a run at 220 mph. Kenne Bell had released the 4.7LC, so the 4.2LC was swapped out in favor of the larger supercharger. The guys also switched from E85 to E98 and did some testing with using methanol as a cooling agent for the blower. As mentioned, inflated inlet temperatures hurt power by taking away timing, and we all know timing makes power. Speaking of power, the new numbers with the 4.7LC came in at 1,258 hp and 1,049 lb-ft of torque.
With everything sorted out, the guys were ready for the October Texas Mile. After qualifying was over, Jake made another 209-mph pass, so the next pass he was primed to let it fly. The Shelby went 181 mph in the half-mile, but shifting into Fifth, the crank snout let go, ending his chance of going 220 mph.
No one ever said accomplishing goals were as easy as setting them. Jake and Kinetic Motorsports are getting primed for the 2015 Texas Mile, which will take place about the time you read this. Jake hopes to reach his goal of 220 mph. If not, October is a long time to wait.