Michael Johnson
Technical 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."

Mark started out in 2001 as a nitrous fiend, but he discovered the squeeze was maintenance-intensive, and nitrous refills quickly proved to be a pain. For 2002, he received help from Paxton in the way of a Novi 2000 supercharger. That move paid big dividends for Mark, as he would go on to claim his first Real Street victory at the NMRA's '02 Columbus stop. After wearing the number 8 on the car for 2002, Mark will be able to wear the number 6 for 2003. However, Chris (aka "Noodles") Hemmeter at Behind Bars Race Cars is building a new car for Mark for the '03 season, and it should be ready for the Ohio race. Noodles built Rich Groh's '01 Factory Stock champion-ship car, and Mark is hoping for the same kind of success from his new vehicle.

Speaking of 2003, Mark will be back in the hunt with the coupe seen here-although it will carry a different graphic treatment-until his new car is done. When asked what this NMRA season holds for him, Mark said, "Well, for starters, a lot of sleepless nights getting ready for the races and a lot of good times at the races. A win or two would be nice." Mark hopes to make it to every '03 race and to make a good showing while he's there. But what he really wants in 2003 is a Real Street top-five jacket. You know, the ones that have the nice patches.

"First, I would like to thank Danielle for putting up with me and my racing habit," Mark says. "If it wasn't for her, I would never have gotten the chance to go racing. [I also want to thank] Ricky Best from Vortech/Paxton, Jim Averill at TTC-Tremec, Rich Groh, Charley Schmidt at Trick Flow, Dave Norton at Spec clutches, Dr. Gas, Auto Meter, John Galway for the use of his trailer (sorry about the ditch on the way to BG), Luke at Sticker Dude Designs, Dave and Mike in the parts department, Mike Post, Robert Payton at Speed Lab, Matt Wandel, Jeff Victor, Bill, Joe at ASSC for teaching Danielle how to read the track, Jimmy Dahl, Chip and Scott for getting drunk and entertaining us at the late night parties, and to all of the friends we've made in Real Street. You guys make all the late nights worth it. I would also would like to thank Canton, Moser, Pro-M, Weld Racing, Quarter Master, MSD, AFCO shocks, CP Pistons, TTC-Tremec, and Water Tower marina."

5.0 Tech Specs
Engine And Drivetrain
CrankshaftEagle 4340
Connecting RodsEagle H-beam
Cylinder HeadsTrick Flow Twisted Wedge, Crower roller rockers
Intake ManifoldTrick Flow Street, Accufab 70mm throttle body
Mass AirPro-M 75mm Bullet
Fuel SystemWeldon 2015A pump, Behind Bars Race Cars fuel rails, MSD 50-lb/hr injectors
Power AdderPaxton Novi 2000, Mark Magnuson special 4-in inlet pipe
TransmissionHanlon pro-shifted TTC-Tremec TKO-II, Steeda Tri-Ax shifter, Spec Stage III, Ram aluminum flywheel
Rearend8.8 Ford, FRPP cover, Moser 33-spline gun-drilled axles, 3.55 gears

Engine ManagementStock computer, Autologic chip
IgnitionMSD Digital 7
GaugesAuto Meter

Suspension And Chassis
Front Suspension
K-MemberD&D tubular
Caster/Camber PlatesBBK
SpringsCut four-cylinder
StrutsCompetition Engineering 90/10
WheelsWeld Draglites
TiresMoroso DS-2
Rear Suspension
ShocksQA1 12-way adjustable
Springs'01 GT convertible
Traction DevicesTRZ lowers, double-adjustable uppers, antiroll bar, spherical rod ends
WheelsWeld Draglites
Rear TiresMickey Thompson 26x10
BrakesStock drums