Michael Johnson
Associate Editor, 5.0 Mustangs & Super Fords
November 1, 2002
Photos By: Steve Turner

Horse Sense: If you're looking for a body-in-white Mustang for your next home project, try Roush Performance (800-59-ROUSH). Remember, you'll also need all the glass and weatherstripping, trim pieces, a donor interior, taillights and headlights, and other various pieces before you start adding your drivetrain.

Have you ever had a gremlin in your Mustang that had you chasing your tail? Of course you have-every Mustang owner has. Gremlins can drive you nuts. Everything about the car is great-except for this one problem you can't track down.

With our beloved Mustangs, it could be several things. The hunting idle problem (anyone who's owned a Fox 5.0 has been there) is one of them. What about incurable detonation for you '94-'95 GT owners? We've heard about that one more than once. Cracked intakes are the sore spot with '96-up Two-Valve owners. Nitrous backfires are cool for our cameras, but they wreak havoc on parts, and chasing down the cause can make you blow your top. Blower guys either battle belt slippage or blown head gaskets, or both. Turbo guys are always battling traction woes. If you've experienced any of these problems, trying to solve them is a lesson in patience and perseverance.

One racer who has plenty of both is Pro 5.0 pilot Brandon Switzer. Ever since he debuted the car seen here, there's been a gremlin haunting its performance-until now. He didn't want to say what it was, but he finally figured it out. "Things are starting to turn around," Brandon says. "We've definitely chased ourselves around for a while."

Tony Bischoff and Gary Rohe from Bischoff Engine Service (812) 637-5933 helped Ricky out with a trick, little Pure Street mill. It's based on a 4.060-inch bore, '91 5.0 block, which measures out to 310.8 ci with the help of a stock crank and 10:1 Ross pistons connected to Probe rods. Brian Tooley from Total Engine Airflow ported the Trick Flow Twisted Wedge heads and stuffed them with 2.02- and 1.60-inch valves. The camshaft is a custom BES piece that specs out to 0.500 inch lift (per legal class limit) with the help of 1.5 Crane roller rockers. And, as stated in the NMRA rule book, the lifters are stock-replacement units. All totaled, there are an estimated 450 flywheel horses ready at the blip of the throttle for Ricky's enjoyment.

Fortunately, Brandon has been around long enough to realize you have to take the bad with the good, and to not let it get you down. And at just 27 years of age, he's way ahead of the curve.

Brandon began racing when he was 16, and he started at the top in Pro 5.0 with his high school car-an '83 GT with T-tops. Fresh out of high school, he started his own business called Racer's Edge with the money his parents had set aside for him to use for college. He decided to go the entrepreneurial route after watching too many of his friends go to college and drink themselves back home without an education. He thought there had to be a better way, and Racer's Edge was it.

Through the business, Brandon took his '83 GT to the next level by running as fast as 9.06 at 151 mph and winning the '95 Bradenton Fun Ford over the Keen Brothers. After the '83 GT, he debuted a purpose-built coupe with GT ground effects that wore the now-famous Brandon Switzer-purple hue. The coupe was a Pro 5.0 recordsetter until he wadded it up at the '96 Fun Ford Bradenton race.

The coupe was totaled, but the powertrain was fine. Brandon removed the engine and put it in Stormin' Norman's red and white coupe. He then won the '97 Fords at English-town race, along with a Cobra body in white, which he turned into one of the nicest Pro 5.0 cars at that time. Not only was it pretty, but it was also fast, with a nitrous/Powerglide combination. Once he had the Cobra figured out, he sold it to fellow Pro 5.0 racer Steve Habodas. When Steve exited racing, he sold it to Outlaw racer Crazy Moe Atat. Moe raced it for a while, but he sold it to drive Pande Talevski's Pro 5.0 monster.

To take advantage of the ever-progressing Pro 5.0 rules, Brandon enlisted the services of Mark Wilkin-son's RaceCraft shop to build him the Pro Stock-style car you see here. The 25.1C chassis boasts carbon-fiber body panels, but he's still not able to meet the minimum allowed weight. The lightest he can get the car is 2,350 pounds, but according to Pro 5.0 rules, the lightest he can legally weigh is 2,200 pounds. He says this is due to his steel quarter-panels and roof instead of the complete carbon-fiber bodies, similar to what many of the other Pro 5.0 racers use.

Inside the car is a mild-steel, eight-point S&W rollbar that Ricky installed himself. A TCI line lock, a full array of Auto Meter gauges, and a removable steering wheel from an older Fox-body 5.0 Mustang are the standout features. The Pro-5.0 shifter is connected to a Jim Swarr-built, pro-shifted Tremec from Hanlon Motorsports. The clutch and pressure plate are from Ram, and they are contained in a blow-proof bellhousing should the worst-case scenario of clutch integrity come true.

Who would cut up a new '01 GT to go Pure Street racing? No one we know. Ricky Reynolds picked up a body-in-white GT from Total Performance in Detroit, Michigan, to begin his project. He painted the car black after adding an aftermarket 2.5-inch cowl hood, a Saleen front bumper cover, a junkyard full of trim and interior pieces, and hours of time and effort to get this puppy roaring to life. Ricky's best e.t. has been an 11.32-second pass at more than 123 mph (1.48-second 60-foot time). Not bad for a hydraulic-roller 302 with no power adder and a race weight of 3,200 pounds.

When the car made its debut at the '01 World Ford Challenge, it had something none of Brandon's previous cars boasted-a five-speed. This is his first race car with a stick, and after exorcising his demons last year, he won a southern-style Quick 8 race and runner-up'd a few times at Immokalee Raceway in Immokalee, Florida. His crowning achievement came with a win at this year's Bradenton NMRA race. So far, the car has run as quick as a 6.89 at 200.56 down at the recently repaved Moroso Motorsports Park.

In 1999, Brandon entered into a partnership with Keith Wilson of Wilson Manifolds, which led to the introduction of Nitrous Pro-Flow. So, besides the racing aspect of the car, it also serves as a rolling test bed for future Nitrous Pro-Flow products. To emphasize the car's importance for testing, Brandon says they have tried eight different induction setups on it to aid in product development. As a matter of fact, Nitrous Pro-Flow just finished a nitrous system for the PRO series' Cheap Street class and is always working on new fuel-injection systems.

Brandon plans to sell the car once he gets everything totally ironed out. He wants to have built another RaceCraft car to take advantage of the new Pro 5.0 rules, as he doesn't like the idea of cutting up the existing car to incorporate them. He would like to build a car that allows for the lower roofline and the extended overhang and wheelbase, along with a carbon-fiber body. Before he sells his current car, though, his goal is to get it into the 6.70s at more than 205 mph.

Now that's a fast turnaround.

Big hook is the name of the game if you choose to go heads-up NMRA racing. Getting the power to the ground will win you more races than having the hottest motor but no traction. To that end, Tricky Ricky added Fox chassis four-cylinder springs, a QA1 K-member, and CPL Racing subframe connectors and antiroll bar. Yes, the rear control arms are stock, Fox-chassis units-rare to find on such a capable machine. The 8.8-inch rearend houses a Strange spool, Strange 31-spline axles, and 4.56 gearing. Power comes through an FRPP aluminum driveshaft. Rims are from Bogart, with Goodyear skinnies and Mickey Thompson 26x10-inch slicks (Pure Street class limit). Short times are always in the 1.40s, with big wheelies the norm.

5.0 TECH SPECS
ENGINE AND DRIVETRAIN
Block Ford Racing Performance Parts R351 iron
Cubic Inches 415, Salina Engine-designed
Rotating Assembly Hank the Crank (HTC)
billet-steel crank, GRP aluminum rods,
Mahle pistons, Innovators West damper
Cylinder Heads Chapman SC1R
Valvetrain Jesel rockers, lifters, and pushrods
Intake Manifold FRPP X351, Wilson Manifolds-modified
Carburetor DaVinci 1150
Camshaft Comp Cams
Power Adder Nitrous Pro-Flow twin direct-port system
Exhaust Wilson Manifolds (Rob Mansfield-made)
stepped header, Specialty Products Design 411/42-in collectors,
Flowmaster collector mufflers
Fuel Pump MagnaFlow Pro Star 500, MagnaFlow regulator
Transmission {{{Liberty}}} five-speed, Ace dual 8-in clutch
Rearend RaceCraft sheetmetal housing, Motive Gear 4.86,
Strange 40-spline axles and spool
Cooling CSI electric water pump

ELECTRONICS
Engine Management Competition Data Systems data acquisition
Ignition MSD Programmable 7, MSD billet distributor
Gauges Auto Meter

SUSPENSION AND CHASSIS
Springs Lamb
Struts/Shocks Lamb struts, Koni electric
Rear Suspension RaceCraft four-link with wishbone, RaceCraft antiroll bar
Wheels Weld Aluma Stars
Tires Goodyear/Mickey Thompson
Brakes Lamb
Rollcage RaceCraft