5.0 Mustang & Super FordsFeatured Vehicles
1998 GT Cobra Mark Van Meter: Modulars, Inc.
This Four-Valve modular monster is set to take over the heads-up game
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When you think of modular Mustang racing, you think of all the talented competitors who strap on their slicks and head out to FFW, NMRA, and WFC for a little action. If you're really attuned to the sport, you know the special modular classes at these venues are run under an open comp-style eliminator. This arrangement allows for a pro-tree, handicap start, unlike a heads-up class where the light turns green and the winner is the driver who gets to the finish line first. Racers such as Joe Stewart, John Mihovetz, and Mark Walker were pioneers by entering their modular Mustang in heads-up competition against their 5.0 pushrod forefathers. Today, the Tymensky family, J. R. Granatelli, and especially Bob Cosby have raised the bar even higher for modular performance in the heads-up circuit. Mark Van Meter of Bowling Green, Kentucky, is just one of a wave of new modular racers looking to work their way into heads-up Mustang classes previously the sole domain of the 5.0 pushrod cars.
As Mark explains, "I have been racing in the modular class the past year and a half and did not like the bracket-style racing. I wanted to compete in a heads-up class where the faster car wins. I decided that I would build a Renegade car because I had enjoyed watching them over the past few years, and I liked the challenge of building a 4.6 to run their nine-second speeds."
Picking up a clean, used, '98 GT started Mark on his path to modular greatness. The car was stripped and sent to Freddie Horn Race Cars in Greenville, Kentucky, where the chassis went through the necessary upgrades to put up with several years of pounding on the Mustang heads-up scene. Freddie added what Mark describes as an Outlaw-style cage with lots of reinforcements throughout the unibody frame of the Mustang. Typical chassis-shop fare, including brakes, a driveshaft loop, and a parachute mount were added before the car was shipped to Sean Hyland Motorsport in Canada for the new engine combination. Meanwhile, Outlaw racer Sammy Vincent helped guide Mark on parts selection.
Sean and the boys up north added a serious 4.6 Cobra mill along with a Performance Automatic C4 race transmission. The final package was tuned and returned to Mark one week before the amazing NMRA World Finals in Bowling Green, Kentucky. Mark hustled that week to get the car ready for the race. Because he had chosen to have the FAST EFI management system installed (which is illegal in NMRA Renegade at the time of this writing), Mark entered the car in the Modular Muscle class. Unfortunately, he suffered a belt-throwing problem, which kept the car from running anywhere near its true potential. SHM took the car back to Canada and cured the belt-throwing problem. Mark then brought his pride and joy back to its home state of Kentucky.
On a local Saturday night test-and-tune session, the '98-GT-turned-Saleen-Cobra ran a string of mid-9s with no failure whatsoever. The best pass that night was a promising 9.54 e.t. at more than 138 mph with consistent 1.30-second 60-foot times. Mark reports the car has been shipped back to SHM for more upgrades that should follow the release of the '02 FFW and NMRA rule books.
The future looks bright for this car. Obviously, if you are going to campaign a modular Mustang in any class in 2002, you better have a serious bankroll and a talented crew behind you. From this promising start, it looks as though Mark has those two aspects of Modular racing covered. Could a modular car come out and win in Renegade? We have always thought the big-headed, four-cam cars were the hot ticket in Renegadeif you could keep the tune in place and the blower from going through the hood at 8,500 rpm! Mark may well be onto something, but the '02 season will surely test this car to the limit. If he does win with the modular, or even challenge the top teams, you may see a shift of power in Ford racing to the modular engines. Regardless, the testing continues, new parts keep coming out, and it sure is a good time to be running a modular.
Horse Sense: What heads-up class does your modular Mustang fit into? There are several classes at FFW, NMRA, and WFC that your overhead-cammed 'Stang will rock. Buy a rule book, check out what other mod racers are doing, and get your high-revving butt to the track. The author has a good feeling the first modular Real Street car just might get a ton of exposure.