Dr.Jamie Meyer
June 1, 2002

Horse Sense: There have been several wrecked Mustang race cars in recent years. Wren's crash-to-new-car story holds one of the quickest turnaround times we've seen. He crashed his Saleen in May and had the new car out testing by October.

Tragedy befell 61-year-old Wren Vanderpool at the '01 Columbus, Ohio, NMRA event. Hot off a series of 8.30 test passes in his Saleen-turned-Outlaw Mustang, he launched his car in the second round of eliminations, only to be immediately crossed up. The result was one Saleen totaled into the wall, some bruised ribs, and an instant identification for the fans that Pops Vanderpool was one more wild and crazy Outlaw driver thrown into the fray. Wren started planning his next Outlaw car even before the Saleen was crushed into the size of a coffee table.

Salvaged from Wren's '96 Saleen, this willing 347-inch motor makes in excess of 1,260 horses to the back tires. An A4 block houses an Eagle 347 kit with custom Fast Times JE 8.5:1 pistons. The heads are Trick Flow R units that work with a custom Cam Motion solid-roller to consume some 22 pounds of boost from the ProCharger D-3R though a RaceCraft/Spearco cowl-mounted intercooler, an Accufab 90mm throttle body, and a Ford Racing Performance Parts/Victor intake modified to accept 160-lb/hr injectors. To aid in tuning this small-tired hell raiser, Bob at Spaghetti Menders wired the entire car, including the in-car digital camcorder to record chassis movement during the run. Headers are by Kook's, modified by Mark to fit the newer low-slung chassis.

The new car was going to have a better chassis, while being lighter, lower, more stable, and ready to take on the elite cars in NMRA's most demanding class. The car you see here is the creation that came from the Columbus demise. It is more car than Wren had ever imagined and, perhaps, more car than anyone in Outlaw is capable of handling at the time of this writing.

Wren had done great things with his '96 Saleen Mustang. Paul's Automotive Engineering in Cincinnati, Ohio, had taken it from an amazing street car to a 3,500-pound Outlaw slugger. It was a tremendous start for Wren as the experienced '60s NHRA Super Stock driver rediscovered heads-up drag racing. The new '01 GT didn't start as a street car, and Wren makes no excuses about how far he wants to go.

"I've been inspired by Jim Summers and Mike Murillo," the oldest man in Outlaw drag racing says. "Mike's a nice-talkin', good kid. But I want to beat him. I thought 8.20s would do it, but these kids are running 7.80-7.90s. I might have to take Viagra to beat 'em!"

Enter Jim Summers and Mark Wilkinson, tested veterans of the Mustang wars at Fun Ford, NMRA, and World Ford. Wren needed a chassis and Mark delivered. Using what they could from the crashed Saleen, such things as the interior, the glass, the trim, the engine, the transmission, the intercooler, and the fuel/water cell were salvaged. The plan was to use the motor that Paul's had put together, with a trip through Fast Times to get the new car up and running. Once everything was sorted out, Pop wanted to move into something a little nastier.

Wren is out to teach Outlaw's young guns to respect their elders.

Jim Summers shook down the car at our photo session, where half-track passes revealed it was already quicker than 99 percent of the Outlaw cars in the country. The first full hit produced a 7.91-second e.t. at 176 mph (3,000 pounds) with what Jim freely admits is a "stupid safe" tune. And remember-this is with the 347 "training wheels" motor!

Once the season starts and Wren mixes it up with what he has already, watch for this team to make the move to a 400-inch small-block wearing Brodix Neal heads-the same combination ASSC Racing used to crack the 6.90-second barrier with Tim Huston's Pro 5.0 car. As Jimbone describes it, it's "400 cubic inches of pure ass-whoopin'! It's an easy 1,600 horses."

Wren will have a lot of family cheering him on as he looks to run mid-sevens at NMRA. He's most thankful to his wife, Devitos. All totaled, his immediate family has 14 Mustangs, ranging from street cars with nitrous to his son Larry's nine-second, '95 Cobra R ("R You Kidding?" July '01, p. 119). We're just glad Pops is back, and badder than ever.

On its first full pass, this wild NMRA Super Street Outlaw car ripped a 7.91 second e.t. at more than 176 mph (1.20-second short time). Wren "Pops" Vanderpool has promised big things for 2002, and when the "race" motor gets in the engine compartment, look for 7.60s!
5.0 TECH SPECS
ENGINE AND DRIVETRAIN
Block FRPP {{{A4}}}
Cylinder Heads Trick Flow R-series
Intake Manifold FRPP/Edelbrock Victor
Camshaft Cam Motion
Power Adder ProCharger D-3R
Exhaust Kook's headers
Fuel Pump MagnaFlow EFI {{{600}}}
Fuel Injectors 160 lb/hr
Transmission Performance Automatic two-speed
Rearend Fab-9 housing with Strange 40-spline, gun-drilled axles;a Strange, Ultra-Light, 9-in spool/centersection; and 3.89:1 gears

Wren's ride is race car all the way, but RaceCraft still found room for the Saleen interior and glass, racing buckets, and a Winter shifter. The transmission is a bulletproof Performance Automatic two-speed working with a Performance Automatic converter, which, according to Jim Summers, "will stall wherever you want it to." Try somewhere around 7,200 rpm in this application!

ELECTRONICS
Engine Management FAST
Ignition MSD

This SSO monster began life as a body-in-white '01 Mustang GT, which was totally transformed by Mark Wilkinson at RaceCraft [(815) 673-2386]. The hood and decklid are both made of carbon fiber according to Mark's own design. The paint is a factory orange, accentuated by a RaceCraft Outlaw rear wing. The cage is completely NHRA 25.1C compliant with the floor having been cut out, the bars welded under the cage, and then the floor reunited with the body of the Mustang. Pro 5.0 superstar Jimbone Summers says of this groundbreaking car, "This thing is trick, trick, trick! It's better than any Outlaw car in the country. The damn thing goes down the track better than my Pro car!"

SUSPENSION AND CHASSIS
Springs Anthony Jones Engineering
Struts/Shocks Anthony Jones Engineering
Front Suspension Anthony Jones Engineering K-member, A-arms, and drop spindles
Rear Suspension RaceCraft custom ladder bar
Wheels Weld {{{Magnum}}}
Tires Goodyear (front), Mickey Thompson (rear)
Brakes Strange