Muscle Mustangs & Fast FordsFeatured Vehicles
This record-setting Mustang GT350 with a turbocharged powerplant, leads the way in domestic road racing performance
American Champ: Is this turbocharged unibody the country’s fastest turning Mustang?
Greatness doesn’t come quickly. It took years of talent and determination to be the fastest uni-body Mustang in the country. In 2016, Brian Faessler’s Mustang had 22 wins out of 26 NASA races it competed in, three second-place finishes and six track records. In 2017, this car, along with its teammate, a championship-winning 1965 Mustang, set 10 track records. This GT350R Mustang racecar was built with a combination of talented mechanical engineering, experienced racing history and a strong relationship with Ford Performance. The car is only a couple years old, but its composition has been refined for three decades.
You may not know Paul Faessler’s name (Brian’s dad), but chances are you’ve seen his work. He and his team, which consists of just father and son, currently hold 13 NASA National Championships. Paul has been building Mustangs for over 30 years, previously working as a Mechanical Engineer building Camaros in a GM plant. His shop, Paul's Automotive Engineering, is comprised of a handful of employees, most of whom have been with him for over 20 years.
When he nabbed his first American Iron Extreme Championship in his 1965 Mustang in 2008, Ford Performance took notice and gave them a task: build the new 2010 Mustang in 90 days for the 2009 Performance Racing Industry trade show (PRI).
A couple years later, he picked up a bone-stock, brand-new 2015 Mustang. Still with that fresh, new-car interior and 6-cylinder powerplant, it didn’t last long. “We drove it for maybe a week, flogged it at a local road course, and by Tuesday it was gutted and the roof was off,” said Paul. Presently, the car has 2017 Ford Mustang GT350R body work, thanks to Ford Performance.
In racing, you can’t let the competition see you sweat, so if you talk to Paul about the Mustang, he’ll convince you there hasn’t been a single significant issue. “We sit in the lawn chairs a lot at the race track,” said Paul, with an audible smirk through the phone as he knows how badly that has to piss off competitors. “We do all our homework at the shop before heading out. It’s just myself, my son and wife - that’s it. No track crew.”
After that first week with the Mustang, Brian pulled the glass and cut the A and C pillars out of the car, handling most of the dirty work himself. Anything that had two layers of metal was trimmed to one. He spent a few weeks simply cutting, drilling and removing every unnecessary tab. Then he built the roll cage and tig-welded it together.
The suspension is Paul’s own combination, designed on CAD and then built in house. It’s a short-arm, long-arm style with custom spindles, similar to that of a Trans Am race car. A complete, weld-in K member, that allows the car to constantly pulls two Gs of lateral acceleration. Adjustable points include camber, caster, anti-dive, with adjustable height by ⅛-inch increments, and an adjustable, tubular sway bar. You can also move the instant center around, making for a pretty solid package. “It’s a complete set up we've worked on for a long time, fortunately, we don’t have to mess with it much,” said Paul. “We’ve put it on a lot of different cars [including the 1965 Mustang], it’s pretty consistent.”
Naturally [pun-intended], the Mustang dropped the V6 quickly for a turbocharged Coyote 5.0L, that’s been heavily modified in-house. The Mustang has been the company’s link between racing and Ford Performance, as Paul’s engineering background has provided ample real-world R&D.
Starting with a Ford Performance 5.0 Boss 302 engine, Paul’s engine builder, Tim Rovecamp, who’s been with Paul for almost 30 years, added Wiseco BoostLine rods, Wiseco pistons and Cometic head gaskets. It still utilizes the stock crank, and compression remained the same at 11.0/1. Lash adjusters and followers are stock Ford Performance bits, but now accompanied by Ferrea valves, retainers and springs. It’s topped with a Cobra Jet intake and one twin 65mm throttle-body.
Fueling components include: Aeromotive fuel rails, Weldon regulator set to 40 psi, Injector Dynamics ID1000 with a 1015cc/min Nominal Flow Rate, a Weldon Racing Pumps DB2015A fuel pump and an Aero Tech Laboratories (ATL) 22 gallon Bantam fuel cell. “At the time, no single company had all the components we needed for the ratings we required,” said Paul.
Turbocharged-domestics are uncommon for NASA and Trans-Am racing, “I haven’t seen anybody else do it,” said Paul. The turbo is a custom TiAL Sport 84mm unit, designed and built uniquely for the Mustang.
This car was built from the get-go to be turbo charged. Paul did it to make the power they needed, and expressed that with an N/A set up they’d always be at the engine’s stress level. “We can run low boost, and turn it up when we need it. It saves us a lot of wear and tear,” said Paul. The team has run this engine for a season and a half with only regular oil and spark plug changes.
They never run over 13 pounds of boost and a normal race sees seven pounds. Our favorite part of the set up is the huge range of adjustability, the car normally runs 700 hp to the wheels with around 650 lb-ft of torque but with a simple turn of the dial can make 900 hp, at 680 lb-ft. Like Ford Performance, Paul sends back data to TiAL. After a mid-season upgrade, TiAL was able to gain an extra 50 hp while lowering inlet temps. Paul said without help from companies like TiAL, they’d never be able to run as strong of a program.
The MoTeC GPA-M150 is a complicated system with huge capabilities, but Paul said their setup only touches the surface. They wired it to the car in order to collect important engine and suspension data, control the Coyote’s electronics including variable valve timing and fueling and even Traction Control (up to 9 variations of intrusion).
The MoTeC system allows for four preset tunes, which can be changed at the simple turn of a dial, even mid-race. Each tune ups the boost level and then automatically changes fueling and timing. “Brian will start a race in one mode, then get the lead and turn it down,” said Paul.
For NASA racing, there’s door-to-door racing as well as time trial racing, for the single-lap fastest time. The team can simply range back the tune for easier door-to-door races and twist it up for the fastest single-lap possible. “We just monitor how fast we need to go,” said Paul about judging the competition and understanding track conditions before the races. He finished with a laugh, “We do like track records, if we haven’t broken it, by the end of the weekend we’ll turn it up and make a run for it.”
“This is the biggest thing we’ve done. We’re putting a Mustang in places that a unibody Mustang hasn’t been. It showcases our engine and tuning capability all in-house, it certainly is a showcase for our shop’s ability,” said Paul. “We’re proud of the fact that we make things look easy.”
This winter the team has a 5.2L V8 in the lineup for a complete main engine build, shifting this current Coyote engine to backup. But like everything before it, the upgrade isn’t about making more power, but instead, making that power more efficiently. “We hope to take advantage of the bigger bore, and bigger flow of GT350 heads, to improve efficiency, looking to make the same power.”
2015 Season 6 – North American Road Race Association track records, including: Mid Ohio, Watkins Glen and Pitt Raceway
2016 Season 4 – National Auto Sport Association track records including: Mid Ohio, Virginia International Raceway, Pitt Raceway, Road Atlanta 1 – Global Time Attack at Road Atlanta
2017 Season 2 – NASA records at Pitt Raceway 1 – Global Time Attack at Road Atlanta 5 – Grid Life Time Attack records including: Mid Ohio, Autobahn, Road Atlanta.
Total: 19 records over 3 seasons