January 1, 2003

Factory Stock racer Justin Burcham came upon his love of speed honestly. While most of his friends had older Mustangs that were wicked fast, Justin had to wait to get in on the action. His first car, bought while a junior in high school, was a Plymouth K-car. Although there were speakers and wires everywhere, the sound wasn't the greatest because of the cheap stereo equipment.

Justin's first taste of speed came when he traded the K-car for a '77 Trans Am. The guy he traded with obviously didn't hear the K-car's rods knocking when Justin drove up to make the deal. Nevertheless, Justin hightailed it out of there behind the wheel of the T/A.

Still driving the Trans Am, Justin weaseled himself into a credit card and borrowed some money to bring the car to life. On went a nitrous kit, a converter, headers, a shift kit, a carb, and 3.73 gears. This led to having his school parking pass revoked because of his propensity to showcase the T/A's power by leaving the school in a cloud of nitrous-induced tire smoke. Not to worry-Justin bought an MGB and used someone else's parking pass the rest of his senior year. As for the Trans Am, after too much nitrous it turned itself into a six-cylinder and ended up at the local dump.

Soon thereafter, Justin's aunt gave him a '67 Mustang coupe with a fully operational six-cylinder. The first thing he did was add gears, a spool to the 8-inch rear, an MSD ignition with a two-step, and a line-lock. Not surprisingly, burnouts were the norm. "You should've heard that six-cylinder up on the two-step," Justin says. Of course, the six-cylinder just wasn't cuttin' it, so he took out a loan and converted the car to a long-rod 302 with lightweight pistons and 351 Windsor heads. The engine made more than 400 hp on a Superflow engine dyno, while the car ran 11.10s at 123 mph with a 125 shot of nitrous and a C4, on radials. "I'm a radial racer from way back," Justin says. The scary thing was, the '67 only had lap belts, it didn't have a cage, and the driver-side door would fly open at the most inopportune times, such as when going down the track. Even so, he still owns the '67, and until last year, he drove it every day.

Justin has always loved '85 GTs. So when a friend decided to sell his '84 GT-which also happened to be the first 5.0 Justin ever worked on-he had to have it. The GT featured a 306 with 351 Windsor heads, an Edelbrock Performer RPM intake, a Holley carburetor, 4.10 gears, and a T5. The car routinely ran mid 12s at 111-112 mph. Oh, yeah-Justin still has that car too, except now it has a Richmond five-speed in it. He has never sold any of his Mustangs, including the '87 coupe he races in Factory Stock.

The coupe was his next purchase after the '84. It was a nasty stocker he bought for $3,200 in 1996. It featured the usual bolt-ons and ran in the low 13s. After he got his paws a little deeper into it, the car ran 12.50s with the bone-stock motor on slicks. The car has had several different engines in it and has seen its fair share of late-night street action. Justin also used it for the weekly trip to visit his girlfriend (and now wife), Melanie, while she was away at college, so it saw a lot of road action.

What made the '87 a little unusual was the lack of power amenities. "No power," Justin says. "The only electrical things on the car are the battery and the power mirrors." Back in his street-racing days (not that they're over), one guy refused to race Justin simply because the car didn't have A/C or power windows. "I've heard about those cars," he muttered.

Justin became involved in Factory Stock because, "I just think it's neat to run a stock engine really fast." He has always run stock events at local tracks such as Capitol Raceway, Maryland International Raceway, and 75-80 Dragway. The list of Factory Stock-style victories is too long to mention here, but Justin entered the NMRA ranks at the cajoling of MIR's Jason Miller. After dominating "stock" classes at MIR for five consecutive years, from 1997 to 2001, Jason suggested Justin take his Factory Stock act on the road. It could be that MIR was a little tired of seeing Justin in the victory circle and wanted to see him enjoy the same success on a national level.

However, Justin's introduction to national-level racing didn't go as planned. He says he was the first NMRA racer to be protested from two different racers. Justin now knows he's going to be torn down at just about every event, which keeps everyone in check, but he says it gets old having to take his engine apart at every race. In 2001, he was torn down four times through seven events. At last year's Maple Grove race, the NMRA took not only Justin's cam, but also Robin Lawrence's and Rich Groh's. He thinks he's been torn down more than anyone in NMRA history-6 out of 11 races actually.

He's used to the attention. At this year's Columbus NMRA race, after setting the record with an 11.96 and winning the event, the car was gone over with a fine-tooth comb. He's never been found to be illegal, but his closest call came at this year's Maple Grove race, when one of his combustion chambers spec'd out at 58.1 cc. The legal limit in Factory Stock is 58. We saw the combustion chamber in question, and we can tell you it was clean as a whistle when Justin got done with it. He says his success comes from having his combo "sorted out pretty well."

So where did Justin learn how to sort out a combo? From Doug Ewart. Doug owned a machine shop and Justin met him through his Mustang buddies. As Justin had all his engine work done at Doug's shop, he grew tired of paying, so he went to work for Doug, sweeping floors and breaking down engine blocks. Doug taught him how air works and basically everything about engines. Justin believes that knowledge and experience give him the advantage he needs. He feels privileged to have learned so much from Doug. "Doug and I spent lots of long nights tuning on engines, assembling, and machining," Justin says. "It has really helped me out a lot."

That experience has also played a key role in getting Melanie's coupe in Factory Stock trim. "Over the winter of 2001," Melanie says, "Justin 'told' me I was going to race the 2002 season." She had never raced anything before, but she was willing to give it a shot. So Justin bought an ex-police car that as of January 2002 was bone stock. However, in less than a month it was transformed into a Factory Stock racer with new paint, engine, tranny, suspension, brakes, and so on.

The plan was for the car to be driven to events (though so far Justin has mostly trailered it) and driven daily. Melanie raced the car, equipped with Rich Groh's '01 Factory Stock champion transmission in the tunnel, for the first time on Feb-ruary 24. She had tested the coupe only a few times before she and Justin left for the NMRA Bradenton opener. So far, the performance of the car has not been up to Justin's standards, so he's trying a couple different ideas to get the e.t. down from its 12.34 at 110-mph best.

While trying to get Melanie's car in the hunt, Justin's also hard at work keeping his own car out front. He recently installed an Auto Meter data logger. As of this writing, he hadn't been able to test it, but he hopes it will give him a few tips on what areas to look at for even quicker times. He plans to try the data logger on Melanie's car to see why it's not running the way it should. He wants to see if the converter is the problem, and if so, he'll use the data logger to help him choose the right converter for the car.

In between spending time on his and Melanie's cars, Justin does engine and mechanical work in the service department of a boat marina. "I make a lot more money at boats than at Mustangs," he says. Even so, he has his own business-Justin's Performance Center-in which he hopes to expand to start selling Mustang parts via mail-order.

As you can probably guess, Justin admits his priorities are a bit screwed up-going from Mustangs, Mustangs, and more Mustangs, to his wife, house, and then to work. "I just like the looks, the sound, and the power of Mustangs," he says. "And I've definitely got the need for speed, baby. Anything that goes fast-put me in it. I love going fast."

5.0 TECH SPECS
MELANIE BURCHAM
ENGINE AND DRIVETRAIN
Block FRPP B50
Rotating Assembly Stock crank, Eagle rods, Ross pistons, Childs & Albert rings
Cylinder Heads GT-40
Intake Manifold Explorer
Camshaft Stock
Power Adder None
Exhaust BBK equal-length short-tube headers, Insane Exhaust–modified MagnaFlow X-pipe, DynoMax mufflers and tailpipes
Fuel Pump Holley 155-lph in-tank
Fuel Injectors 19 lb/hr
Transmission Lentech AOD, 4,600-stall converter, B&M Hammer shifter
Rearend Jesse Bolton–modified 8.8 with welded tubes and a main support, 4.10 gears, Moser spool and 31-spline axles with C-clip eliminators

ELECTRONICS
Engine Management Stock
Ignition MSD 6AL, Blaster 2 coil, Holley plug wires, Autolite plugs
Gauges Auto Meter

SUSPENSION AND CHASSIS
Springs Moroso
Struts/Shocks Lakewood 90/10 (front), QA1 (rear)
Rear Suspension Metco adjustable uppers, solid lowers, Wolfe double-adjustable antisway bar
Wheels Monocoque
Tires BFG Drag Radials
Brakes Aerospace (front), stock (rear)
Subframe Connectors HP Motorsport

5.0 TECH SPECS
JUSTIN BURCHAM
ENGINE AND DRIVETRAIN
Block FRPP B50
Rotating Assembly Stock crank, Eagle rods, Ross pistons, Speed-Pro rings
Cylinder Heads GT-40, T&D shaft rockers, Manley valvesprings
Intake Manifold Cobra
Camshaft Stock
Power Adder None
Exhaust Bassani equal-length short-tube headers, Insane Exhaust–modified MagnaFlow X-pipe, mufflers, and tailpipes
Fuel Pump Holley 190-lph in-tank
Fuel Injectors 19 lb/hr
Transmission Hanlon pro-shifted T5 using Liberty gears, Centerforce pressure plate and Dual-Friction clutch, Pro-5.0 shifter
Rearend Jesse Bolton–modified 8.8 with welded tubes and a main support, 4.30 gears, Strange lightened spool, Moser 31-spline axles with C-clip eliminators

ELECTRONICS
Engine Management Factory Speed Density, Autologic chip
Ignition MSD Digital 7, Blaster coil, Holley plug wires, Denso plugs
Gauges Auto Meter

SUSPENSION AND CHASSIS
Springs Moroso (front), stock GT (rear)
Caster/Camber Plates HP Motorsport
Struts/Shocks Lakewood 90/10 (front), QA1 (rear)
Rear Suspension HP Motorsport Mega-Bite lowers, double-adjustable uppers, Wolfe double-adjustable antisway bar
Wheels Monocoque
Tires BFG Drag Radials
Brakes Aerospace
Subframe Connectors Jeg's