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2003 Ford Mustang: A Road Race Terminator Cobra That Brings the Family Together
Passing Power: Tom Shoecraft Sr. has passed along the power of Mustang racing to his son and grandson. Oh, and he’s not afraid to pass you on the track either.
From the word go, Tom Shoecraft Sr. has been addicted to speed. He began flogging fast Fords in his late teens near his home in Upstate New York, and he raced up and down the East Coast. He has competed in drag racing, dirt track, figure 8, and road course events, and now you’ll find him blazing corners in South Florida with his hard-charging 2003 Cobra.
These days Shoecraft, now 71, mixes it up on track with son Tom Jr. who participates in a 1997 Cobra, and his grandson Tom III, who at the tender ago of 7 is terrorizing go-kart tracks from Immokalee to Ocala.
“I raced in Syracuse, New York, while growing up,” said Shoecraft. “I drove a Galaxie in F/Stock and then a 1968 Cougar with a 427 at ESTA Safety Park. I also raced at Burton Speedway and other circle tracks. That racing was fun, but I got out of racing for a long while, until I attended a Shelby Event at Watkins Glen in 1992. My brother and my son and I went to SAAC 18 in 1993 with our 1970 Boss 302, a 1968 Shelby GT500KR, and a Cobra replica that my brother Tim had. And that was all it took to get me back into it.”
Shoecraft’s brother passed away, but the family keeps the spirit alive, attending events and running the cars. In 1995 they headed south for good, moving to Florida for year-round sun. The father-son duo restored a 2001 Stage 3 Roush and also attended a Roush-sponsored event at Sebring in 1995. Shoecraft used the Roush as his open-track machine before picking up the wild 2003 Cobra featured here.
Shoecraft says, “The Cobra was a Ford Racing test vehicle that was bought and built for World Challenge GT in 2004 by Cheyne Dagget, but he blew the engine and I bought the car in that condition in 2007. My son and I put in a Sean Hyland short-block, and we started doing HPDE events with a bigger plan of running American Iron Extreme. But we realized the cost of that class is out of control. Plus, at my age, I just enjoy the speed and driving on track, and I don’t really have the urge for wheel-to-wheel racing anymore. I’ll leave that to my 7-year-old grandson.”
Not your run-of-the-mill Terminator, this Cobra makes a big visual impact with widened fenders sporting big vents, a Tiger Racing hood, a front splitter, and a (2003) World Challenge–spec rear wing. Rolling stock consists of Kinesis 18x10 wheels wrapped in Nitto NT01 tires. “Between the Maximum Motorsports suspension and the wide 305 tires,” says Shoecraft, “it sticks and goes wherever I steer it.”
Improved handling comes by way of Maximum Motorsports forward-offset lower control arms, Bilstein race struts, and Hypercoil springs, all mounted to a Maximum K-member. Out back, Shoecraft has added Maximum Motorsports bushings to the IRS, along with Bilstein shocks, Hypercoil springs, and adjustable sway bar end links. Stoptech ST40 brakes with Hawk DCT 70 (front) and DCT 60 (rear) pads get the Mustang slowed from warp speed.
Justin Nelson at J&J Performance helps with the tuning of the Sean Hyland Motorsport engine, which has been modified with Manley rods a Canton oil pan, a DiabloSport tune, an SCT mass air meter, a K&N filter, and long-tube headers with Dynomax Bullet mufflers with custom side exits. Backing the Four-Valve is a Spec Stage 3 clutch and a stock six-speed with a Pro 5.0 shifter and an aluminum driveshaft.
As you can see, the interior is all business with a protective cage, Ultrashield seats, and Crow harnesses, as well as a coolsuit that Shoecraft uses to beat the Florida heat. He says, “I mostly run with Track Guys and with the PBOC in Florida at Sebring, Daytona, and Homestead, but my favorite track is still Watkins Glen.”
Not to be outdone by his dad, Tom Jr. hits the track in his own Cobra, a 1997 model, which spent a good portion if its years as a Bondurant workhorse. By the time he purchased it, the SVT Cobra had received a Griggs SLA setup and a built Four-Valve. The entire crew gets support from Tom Jr.’s wife Courtney and their 1-year-old son Cohen, who will certainly be the next Shoecraft racer. There are many off weekends for this crew, as Tommy III has been making moves in his 50cc Birel racing kart. The youngster finished Second in his track points chase, and he’s already itching to turn laps in one of the Mustangs.