Ro McGonegal
August 26, 2016
Photos By: Amanda Stafford

In the early days, top speed contests were confined to seemingly endless dry lakebeds or the Bonneville salt, places that were miles from anywhere and suitably unpopulated. Airstrips pertinent to WWII were abandoned but weren’t used for organized high-speed hijinks. Were they too close to civilization? At the lakes and therefore without physical boundaries, there was no civilization save for what the racers brought with them.

As time continues to march, so have the parameters. Much easier to run at a “local” venue than make the trek to the salt but once a year, hence the “Mile” races that have become so popular now. Lots of people really rise to the spirit, forget the trailer, and drive there and back. The Texas Mile is just one of these havens.

Now, it takes a special kind of loon to crave driving flat out the back door, driving that car as fast as possible, and Ken Polk might be one of them. Polk resides out of Corpus Christi, Texas. At the April 2016 trials, he and his Kenne Bell–blown, street- legal GT500 posted 232.4 mph, with a half-mile speed of 188.5. To put this in perspective, a couple of hours before Polk made his run, Patrick O’Gorman drove his street-legal, twin-turbo, alcohol-fired 2006 GT to an insane 279.9 top.

While Polk has upgraded the chassis and the like to accommodate the grunt and safety features, all the major changes took place under the Super Snake hood, folks. We got an addendum from Michael Rauscher at Ford specialist L&M Engines in Hatboro, Pennsylvania, explaining the design savvy L&M Engines infuses in its components and why.

Rauscher told us, “We started with a new 5.8 Ford block and L&M Engines–designed pistons for high boost, high torque, and heat. Diamond pistons (9.5:1) made them for us and we installed Total Seal AP steel rings for the heat component. Connecting rods are Manley Pro Billet I-beam with King rod and main bearings. The crankshaft is a Ford Cobra Jet model. We cut an additional 3/16-inch Woodruff key and installed an ATI double-key balancer/damper. We installed Triangle Speed billet gears in the factory 5.8 oil pump housing. The oil pan is stock. We used 10mm Ford GT timing chains, guides, and sprockets.

“Cylinder heads are GT500 with CNC porting by Slawko Racing. We design camshaft lobe profiles in-house as proprietary and have Comp Cams grind them using the four-lobe design files we created. Cams are degreed during installing, and timing changes are made by use of Comp steel adjustable sprockets.

“Head gaskets are OE Ford five-layer, which has shown excellent reliability. Head studs are ARP 2000; main studs and side bolts are ARP 8740 material.”

The power adder is a mammoth 4.2L Kenne Bell blower (25 psi boost) using a Fore fuel pump and regulator (55 psi) and a K-B168 throttle-body. Exhaust gases are vented via American Racing headers with 2.0-inch primary pipes, a custom 3 1/2-inch H-pipe, and MagnaFlow mufflers.

The techs down at Lone Star Hot Rod & Customs in Orange Grove, Texas, disassembled and reassembled the car to get it ready for the last “Mile” event. They swapped in the Kenne Bell supercharger. They fit the 5.8 with a Spec ST-trim dual disc clutch assembly, a Tremec Magnum XL six-speed and ordered up a Dynatech aluminum prop shaft. They fixed the 8.8-inch housing: 9-inch Ford ends and Moser 31-spline axles, a spool traction device, and 3.73:1 gears. Eric Lang at Lang Stangs put the tune on it. At the wheels, Polk’s E85-fueled ’cammer puts down 1,290 hp and 1,110 lb-ft of torque.

Since the mission is basically a long, straight line, chassis concessions include BMR upper and lower control arms, Eibach coilovers, and a BMR antisway bar. Steering retains power assist. BMR control arms, another Eibach damping setup, and a BMR antisway bar complete the rear suspension. An eight-point rollcage and BMR subframe connectors finished the chassis changes.

On the street Polk likes Toyo R888 295/30R19 and 315/30R20 on Forgeline hoops. For whooping to the horizon he swaps the back-axle Toyos for 315/30R19 Hoosier R7 rubber.

We asked him what his technique and driving style was. “For me there’s not much drama involved. The car runs likes it’s on a string, and the whole deal is over in about 25 seconds. Then it’s all about burning off the energy and getting the thing stopped!”

L&M Engines built a 5.8 that churns nearly 1,300 hp to the wheels. A 4.2L supercharger assaults cylinder heads thoroughly worked over by Slawko Racing.

Polk runs his E85-fueled Mustang as a Street Legal car. At the Texas Mile event, the pair exceeded 230 mph.

Lone Star Hot Rod & Customs did a ton of mechanical work, set up the drivetrain, installed the BMR/Eibach suspension and chassis bits, and got the GT ready to race.

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