5.0 Mustang & Super FordsFeatured Vehicles
Barry and Roxanne Shepard's '96 Mustangs
Taking To The Strip With A Pair Of SVO-Backed 4.6 Mustangs
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Drag racing is perhaps the only sport in which you can make a friend out of a total stranger. Tell a Forty-Niner fan that youre a Forty-Niner fan, and hell probably say, Yeah, go Niners! and thatll be about it. But tell another drag racer that you race and have a car like his, and youd better hope you packed a lunch, because theres nothing a racer likes more than talking about his or her car, or learning something new from someone elses combination. Drag racing creates common bonds, camaraderie, and friendship like no other sport in the world. But you dont have to tell Barry Shepard that. Through his own personal racing endeavors, Barry has helped hundreds of racers, made at least that many friends, and even found his true love, Roxanne, at the dragstrip.
Though Barry has been racing Fox-chassis Mustangs almost since their introduction, it was a certain 427 lightweight Ford Galaxie, and a rather fierce competitor from the 70s, that would start him down the road to Mustang-mania in the 80s. I used to compete against the Hornet-X car with my Galaxie back in the old Super Stock/Pro Stock days, Barry recalls. I found out that you didnt want to race against that Hornet. It was really fast. You probably couldnt have convinced Barry of it then, but one of the guys on that Hornet-X team, American Motors Bob Wheat, would eventually become one of Barrys friends as well.
That day came some 13 years later, when Barry walked through the doors of Village Ford in Dearborn, Michigan, seeking sponsorship for his SVO-backed 85 5.0 Mustang. It turned out that Bob Wheat was, and still is, the sales manager for the dealership, Barry laughs. We started talking; Bob talked to the dealerships owner Jim Sevitt, and the rest is history. That was 12 years ago, and Village Ford is still by Barrys sidemaking what he believes to be the longest-standing sportsman sponsorship in the country. Other dedicated sponsors include Reider Racing, Harlow Racing Tires, Pauls High Performance, and Weld wheels.
After racing a stable of Mustangs over the last several years, Barry eventually found himself behind the wheel of the 96 GT you see here. Every vehicle Ive had since that 85 Mustang has been a project car for SVO, explains Barry, whos a Ford Motor Company technologist in the compact truck division.
I get the parts out there to show the guys what they can do right out of the box, and encourage them to add their own touches to make the combination faster.
Apparently, a young lady racer by the name of Roxanne was paying close attention. She was racing her car at the Ford Expo race in Columbus, Ohio, in 1997, says Barry, and wanted to know how to make her car run as fast as mine. With my advice, she picked up about two seconds. As it turns out, she also picked up a husband, because the two were married eight months later.
Today, Barry and Roxanne compete at several Ford-only events a year. Both cars are sponsored by Village Ford and backed by Motorsport SVO parts, but thats where the similarities end. Barrys car uses bolt-on parts directly from the Motorsport catalog, including the high-flow intake manifold (PN M-9424-D46); high-performance cylinder heads (PN M-6049-D46); underdrive horsepower pulley kit (PN M-8509-D462); adjust-able cam sprocket kit (PN M-6256-D46); high-volume oil pump (PN M-6600-D46); windage tray kit (PN M-6687-D46); high-flow short-tube headers (four different PNs available); and a high-performance, manual-trans engine management computer (PN M-12650-B461). Other pieces include a stock Cobra clutch/flywheel assembly; SVO aluminum driveshaft; and 4.10 gears, with Detroit Locker and Moser 31-spline axles. The chassis itself uses no traction devices; the front/rear sway bars were simply removed and Koni 50/50 shocks, and 90/10 struts were fitted to aid weight-transfer. With these simple bolt-ons and a pair of 26x10x15-inch Mickey Thompson slicks, Barry has gone as quick as 12.58 at 110 mph.
Roxannes car also uses parts from the SVO catalog, but she went the supercharged route with the supercharger kit (PN M-6066-D46). The positive-displacement, Roots-type supercharger produces a moderate 6 psi of boost for use on pump gasoline and provides a reported 55hp gain over stock.
Part of the agreement [with SVO] was to drive the car to every race to demonstrate the durability and driveability on the street, and performance on the track, Barry explains. Its a street blower, not a race blower. Street it may be, but with the only other additions being a MAC H-pipe and SVO 3.73 gears, the car has gone a best of 13.07 at 105.83. It was driven to 10 events this year (at press time) including Bradenton, Florida; Englishtown, New Jersey; London, Ontario, Canada; and Cordova, Illinois. Roxanne drives and I tow to all the events, says Barry. We run 26x9x15-inch Mickey Thompson slicks on her car, but we allow a little bit of wheel spin by running 15 psi of air in them. This way, we help prevent breakage. We asked, what if it does break?
Id have to take my car home, then come back and get hers. Ouch.
Luckily, such drastic measures havent been necessary so far. Barry and Roxannes story is just one of the hundredseven thousandsof interesting tales that come from the book of 1320. So, the next time a stranger starts bending your ear about his or her car, take a few minutes to listen. You just might make a new friend, or more.