Michael Johnson
Associate Editor, 5.0 Mustangs & Super Fords
April 1, 2002

Horse Sense: Jimmy Vaccaro would like to promote his own race-if he can get enough people together for it. He wants to start the Geezer Nationals. You have to be 50 or older to qualify. So far, he has 9 people interested, but he's looking for 16 so he can have a full field. When he gets enough players, the race will be held at Englishtown in Jersey.

If you've never met Jimmy Vaccaro of Howard Beach, New York, you're truly missing out. When you're around Jimmy, it's a laugh a minute. However, at the same time, he's a serious person. He's one of those guys who will poke fun at you, but if you ever needed something in a pinch, he'd be the first person offering to help.

With the boost the blower is capable of, and the fact that a larger blower is in the future, the stock plastic intake seen here was discarded in favor of a Bullitt intake. Just by adding the intake, Jimmy gained almost 30 hp. A PA-Performance Bullitt conversion kit made the swap easier by making room for the intake's larger dimensions.

Jimmy will never own an import because he still remembers Pearl Harbor (yeah, he's that old). He's old school, but that's OK with him. He's an ambassador, of sorts, for the Northeast Mustang fraternity, including his role as promotions director for the Superstallions of the Net (www.superstallions.com) family. He brings people together to have fun with their Mustangs, but he also gets in on the act with his own Kenne Bell-blown Cobra and this ATI ProCharger-fortified '99 35th Anniversary GT.

Jimmy's love of everything fast was fostered by his father, who took him to West Hampton Dragway (now Long Island Dragway) on Long Island at the age of 12. Just four years later, Jimmy would race his own '51 Ford convertible down the strip to the tune of high 17s. "That was considered pretty fast back then," Jimmy says. The Ford featured a 239 Mercury Flathead V-8 with a four-barrel carburetor. From the '51, Jimmy stepped up to a '60 Ford Starliner with a 360hp 352 under the hood. The big Ford ran low 14s with a three on the tree (a three-speed manual on the steering column, for those under 25). The Starliner didn't run that well stock, though. With solid lifters onboard, Jimmy put a major gear in the car to keep up with the Chevys, which were the major competition before the Hemi Mopars came along.

The exterior of the GT remains in its 35th Anniversary mode. Scott Winger stainless bumper letters reside at the rear of the car, and for track duty a set of Bogarts are put into service. The tag may be confusing for some. "MUGOOTQE" means a copious amount of torque is on hand at all times.

After the Starliner, Jimmy owned a '65 Mustang, an '85 GT, and an '89 LX. He currently owns the previously mentioned '96 Cobra and the '99 GT. But this isn't just any GT. Jimmy went for it all and purchased a 35th Anniversary GT automatic. Originally, he bought the '99 to be a daily driver so he could race the Cobra and have the GT around for street duty. Ironically, the opposite has happened.

Shortly after purchasing the GT, Jimmy drove it to Florida, getting whipped by just about every Z28 and Trans Am in the process. Naturally, he couldn't stand such humiliation, so he began modifying the GT to address the situation. For an automatic, the GT was fairly fast out of the box, with a stout 14.28 in stock form. Jimmy's first modifications were pulleys, a throttle body, a Pro-M 77mm mass air meter, and 3.73 gears. With these mods, the car responded with instant 13.7s. Then he put a Stallion 3,200-stall converter in the car and it ran 13.40s. With Drag Radials, JBA headers, and a Superchip from Amazon Racing, the car ran 13.0s at the '99 Modular Shootout at Cecil County Dragway in Maryland. There, Jimmy finished runner-up in the Two-Valve Naturally Aspirated class. What he liked so much about the car was that it responded well to those simple additions.

Unlike the exterior of the car, the interior screams of a fast car. The Rhodes Custom Auto Works cage tells you this is not some 13-second poser. A surplus of Auto Meter gauges reminds those on the outside what is capable from within. However, a myriad of MGW accessories smacks of the GT's street duty, which Jimmy plans on continuing.

When Jimmy LaRocca approached him with a plan to add an ATI-ProCharger P-1SC supercharger, he jumped at the chance.The car responded accordingly by skipping the 12s and going right for the 11.90s. However, at the 2000 Modular Shootout, the returnless fuel system malfunctioned and Jimmy burnt a piston in the process.

At this time, Jimmy decided he must step up the rotating assembly if he wanted to make reliable horsepower, and lots of it. To this end, LaRocca's Performance built a killer short-block using the stock block, a Cobra crank, Eagle rods, and JE forged pistons. The stock heads were ported by LaRocca's, then they received Fompk Motorsports (www.fompkmotorsports.com) valves and Crower cams featuring LaRocca's specs. Jimmy stepped up the blower as well with the addition of an ATI ProCharger D-1SC. To make the car easier to tune, LaRocca's ditched the returnless fuel system in favor of a return-style fuel system utilizing a '98 GT tank with a sump and all new lines, a Weldon 2025 fuel pump, UPR fuel rails, and MSD 50-lb/hr injectors. In this form the car made 540 hp, but before Jimmy could even get the car down the road for a short test drive, the stock 4R70W tranny let go. "It blew the bands right off the tranny," he says.

To remedy the transmission woes, Jimmy switched to a Lentech AOD Strip Terminator with a lockup feature and transbrake. He likes the brake; the only time it malfunctions is when his driving miscues. In this trim the car made 540 hp at the wheels and ripped off 10.70 quarter-mile times. Then a swap to a Bullitt intake netted him 570 hp and 538 lb-ft of torque. With the Bullit, the car has run a best of 10.32 at 129 mph. The car even ran a 10.7 with Jimmy accidentally going from First to Third gear.

If that's not enough, Jimmy has more up his sleeve. Up next, Jimmy LaRocca would like to add an ATI ProCharger F-1SC, an EPEC computer engine-management system, and 160-lb/hr injectors. With the boost potential of the new blower, LaRocca plans to drill the block and use bigger head studs to keep the heads from lifting. Further cam testing is also in the cards, as is a main girdle.

So where does it end? Jimmy's goal for the car is to run nines on slicks. Once that plateau is reached, he'll have the car tuned to a safe level and run it on drag radials, all the while being able to drive it comfortably on the street. Oh, yeah-the neighbor's Grand National is as good as toast.

5.0 Tech Specs
ENGINE AND DRIVETRAINLentech AOD Strip Terminator
Blockwith lockup
'99 Two-ValveDriveshaft
Bore{{{Ford}}} Racing Performance Parts
Stockaluminum
StrokeRearend
Stock8.8 with Auburn Pro differential,
DisplacementMoser 31-spline axles, and 3.73
281 cigears
Crank 
CobraELECTRONICS
RodsEngine Management
{{{Eagle}}}Autologic chip
PistonsIgnition
JE ForgedStock
CamshaftsGauges
Crower, LaRocca specsAuto Meter boost and fuel
Headspressure
Stock, ported by LaRocca's 
PerformanceSUSPENSION AND CHASSIS
IntakeStruts/Shocks
BullittTokico five-way Illumina
Throttle BodySprings
CobraFRPP
Mass AirRear Suspension
Pro-{{{M}}} blow-through 86.5mmSteeda upper and lower control
Exhaustarms
MAC long-tube headers and ProCaster/Camber Plates
Chamber H-pipe, DynoMax RaceD&D Motorsports
{{{Magnum}}} mufflers, VRS CustomK-member
ExhaustD&D Motorsports
Power AdderWheels
ATI ProCharger D-1SCStock 35th Anniversary (street),
Fuel SystemBogarts (strip)
Return-style, Weldon 2025Tires
pump, LaRocca's PerformanceNitto (street), M/T (strip)
fuel rails, 50-lb/hr injectorsBrakes
TransmissionStock