Michael Johnson Associate Editor
June 1, 2003
Photos By: Steve Turner

Horse Sense:
If you didn't catch it in the Feb. '03 issue (Speed Lust, p. 26), Quarter Master makes a bellhousing capable of mating a 5.0/5.8 to either a T5 or a TTC/Tremec 3550/TKO transmission. The cast bellhousing sells for $290 retail and fits '86-'95 Mustangs.

We should've known the answer to our question-had Real Street racer Mark Magnuson ever street raced? It seems the Chicago area (Mark lives in nearby Barrington, Illinois) is legendary for late-night, adrenaline-pumping speed contests. "Yeah, I street raced," Mark says. "Didn't everyone? I didn't do anything major, but I almost got caught a couple times. I ran once and used a whole tank of gas just getting away." After that incident, Mark relaxed on the street racing and turned his speed addiction toward the legal side of the law.

But before we give the details on Mark's Real Street coupe shown here, we'll tell you what got him to this point.

Growing up, Mark was a devoted Chevy guy. "Hey," he explains, "I was 18 at the time. What did I know? I liked Mustangs, but I couldn't afford one then." But a friend of his did own one, and after one ride in it, Mark was hooked.

A couple years later, Mark worked at a Ford dealer as an apprentice. "It was really cool," he says. "The owner had some stock cars and a bunch of drag snowmobiles. He was interested in getting into drag racing. We took a used '89 GT off the lot and installed gears and exhaust, and it went 13.50s." After the GT, the dealership received an '87 LX hatch on trade. Mark and company turned that car into a racer as well. The LX started out going 12.80s with ported stock heads and a B303 cam. "Then it got World Castings heads and a dry nitrous kit," Mark says. "It went 11.20 at 121 mph." That happened in 1990. Jimmy Dahl later bought the LX and turned it into his world-famous Super Street Outlaw car.

Without a Mustang with which to toy around, Mark's speed lust took a natural progression into two-wheeled territory. He went straight to the top with a Suzuki GSXR1100-and promptly crashed. The crash was bad, but that didn't deter Mark from rebuilding the bike. He gave it a bigger engine, a turbo, and nitrous. "It was cool," he says. "There's nothing like going 8.90s at over 156 mph on a bike."

Another good thing that came about from his two-wheeled exploits was that Mark met his girlfriend, Danielle-and did she ever think he was crazy. They first met at the track, where she was racing her own car. "We met again at a party," Mark says, "started going out, and the rest is history."

After getting back into Mustangs, Mark began building his current car for Renegade. "I had no idea what I was thinking, trying to build a car for Renegade," he says. "I heard about Renegade and it sounded cool. Then I got more info and changed my mind really fast." While deciding in which direction to go, a substantial roadblock occurred when Mark's dad died from cancer. A couple months later, Danielle's father died from cancer as well. Obviously, by that time both Mark and Danielle had lost their ambition for building a car.

However, as time went on, they eventually got back into the swing of things. Mark had heard about NMRA Real Street and it sparked his interest. After the first race at Orlando, some friends told him how much fun it was, so he decided to give it a shot. He partnered with a friend of his and Danielle's-Luke from Sticker Dude Designs. "Luke told me to bring the car by," Mark says, "and he would do it up and take us to the races. How could you argue with that kind of offer? He gets some good exposure and I get to go heads-up racing."